Advantages of teaching and living in China
It's nothing like your expectations, and that’s one of the main reasons foreign teachers love it - because it's very different and full of discoveries to be made.
Shanghai and Beijing are usually mentioned in the news, but take a look at Xiamen - a provincial capital.
The amount of motorcycles, electric bikes, and regular bicycles at every step is fascinating - shared bikes like Mobike and Ofo are practically everywhere. With the subway systems and high-speed trains, it’s very easy to get around in most of the big cities.
It’s fine to leave your wallet at home if you have a phone with you. Single phone app (Wechat) can be used to communicate with friends, pay in shops/markets/cafes, get a taxi, order a haircut for your dog, and more! Ordering things online and receiving it within minutes might even become addictive.
China hosts some of the world’s biggest trade shows and exhibitions, half of the world venture-capital investments are now coming from China. It’s easy to see trends in the world economy here and catch business opportunities.
Cultural heritage ⛩️
Being in China, you can see a history unfold in front of you. Country is unique in many ways and has the highest number of UNESCO world heritage sites. It’s very complicated and mature, and many things are hidden from sight.
Working hard is a culture in China, and Chinese people are known for their efficiency and productivity. It requires much effort to fight off a competition as a local. 72 hours work week system known as “996” is still commonly practiced by IT-companies in China.
What you probably don't know about locals before you come is how helpful and respectful they are to foreigners. The young will try to practice English with you.
I remember an 8-9 years-old girl approached me in Shenzhen: “Hi, my name is Sarah, what is your name?” , “What is your favorite animal?”, “Are you an English teacher?”
Mandarin Chinese is beautiful, poetic, and arguably the most difficult language to learn. It requires 3 times more class hours of studies to achieve basic fluency in Mandarin, than, for example, in French or Spanish.
However, it’s extremely easy for people who don’t speak any Mandarin to live in the country. Luckily, nobody really expects you to speak it. You always get help and generally friendly attitude, but probably you can do your part and learn at least the basics of Mandarin. Who knows where it will lead you?
China has a diversity of delicious foods, presented by 8 culinary schools: 八大菜系, ba da cai xi.
There is a great selection of food spots, where you can get genuine Chinese food any time. The cost of street food in China is a fraction of the cost in comparison to the West, so you won’t break the bank by eating out.
Each province provides you with a chance to experience their own set of cuisine styles. You can have different delicious meals every day for a year, and still have only been eating local Chinese food.
The only problem that you might encounter is choosing what to eat next :)
Experience natural sites of awesome, breathtaking beauty. Visit places like Jiangxi, Shanxi, Tibet, Guilin, Shangri-La, where you'll see trees and peaks rising out of the fog that have inspired thousands of poems and paintings.
China has multiple destinations for traveling within the country. The diversity of scenery and beauty in China combined with the cultural heritage probably can be rivaled by very few countries in the world.
Travel around the countryside and be captivated by the views going through mountain areas, rivers, and farmlands with the quaint landscape, old villages, and canals.
Where to teach English in China
Usually, there are quite a few teaching jobs available for foreigners in any city of more than a million people, so the question is what place will be the most comfortable for you.
Aside from Beijing and Shanghai, there are around 20 cities with modern infrastructure, a wide variety of entertainment, and a population of over 5 million.
Best cities in China to teach English
Shanghai a world class city. If it wasn’t for the dangerous drivers and food scandals, I wouldn’t mind learning Mandarin just to live there.
Compare the life of the teacher in the private and state school and take a look at the diffferences between living in the big city and small town in China. Decide which is for you.
Located just 100km west of Shanghai, this ancient town is an ideal place for English teachers to live and work as an English teacher in China.
All Chinese cities are usually divided into tiers, according to their level of development and market importance. Although low tier doesn’t mean bad, with an exception of smaller industrial cities that cannot offer a lot to a foreigner (especially if you don’t know Mandarin).
The main recommendation is to do your own research and choose the right type of experience.
Read our review on best places to teach English in China and learn more about tiers and locations to teach.
Benefits of working as an English teacher in China
Life in a foreign land is never easy but some places are easier to live than others. Most foreigners in China enjoy a higher level of living standard with relatively lower costs.
The average salary in Beijing among locals is around 7k yuan ($1000), and you will be making at least twice as much working as an English teacher in any big city.
Your company will most probably provide you with a comfy apartment and will take care of your visa and other issues. Taxes are also relatively low in here - roughly 10-15% of your income. Knowing your salary, it’s very easy to calculate your income tax.
Medical insurance is likely provided by your company, but there are a variety of hospitals that you can go without having insurance. More than likely you will have enough to pay the bill without worrying too much about it.
How to get a teaching position in China
To get a teaching position in China, you need to make the following steps:
- Submit a job application
- Pass the interview
- Receive an offer from the school
- Get documents and visas
- Arrive and start working!
Read more about requirements, visas and relocation to China in our Ultimate Guide to teaching in China
What expats usually say about China
Be amazed by how modern China has become, as it continues to develop all the time. Beautiful cities, excellent transport infrastructure, malls, restaurants and cafes, beautiful parks, etc.
Throughout the history of 5000 years, China underwent 83 dynasties and 559 emperors. A combination of old and new is fascinating: outdoor tai chi in the park or right next to the busy metro station, dragon boat festivals, traditional medicine add charm to the urban culture.
Chinese people are friendly. You will always get help, even if you have to talk to each other via Google Translate. No matter what’s the issue, people will go the extra mile to make sure the problem is solved.
Everything in China is very inexpensive and can be obtained at a fraction of cost you're probably used to - housing, food, transportation, home services.
Now society is changing rapidly, things are happening at a breathtaking speed. China will be the dominant global player in most fields for the next few decades. If you've never been to China, you don't have to - it will come to you whether you want it or not.
Gregory, ESL teacher in China
Teaching jobs in China
Teaching jobs available in China are usually provided by training centers (language schools), kindergartens, public and private schools, and universities.
Every type of job has its own pros and cons, and you are welcome to learn more about different school types.
Explore teaching opportunities with reliable companies
Didn’t find something that caught your attention?
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Online teaching jobs in China
There are 2 types of online positions usually available.
The first one is more common - it doesn’t require relocation and you are teaching from your home country, busy hours are usually evenings (Beijing time).
Second type is office-based online jobs that requires relocation to China. Schools are looking not only for English teachers, but also for content creators and video-makers.View online jobs
We tend to share the same sense of adventure and community. We talk about new places to visit and things to do. Being a teacher is not a desk job. It's hectic and can be hard work, but also fun. There's something that surprises me every day working in China that I know I wouldn't find anywhere else.
Mary, ESL teacher in China
How safe it is in China?
In general, China is an extremely safe place, though it might take some time to let down your guard and relax a bit. Sounds surprising, but even when you walk home through a dark alley at 3 am in a major city, you don’t have a fear of being mugged.
Confucianism philosophy holding civil behavior and morality within has a binding influence on Chinese society. Along with a large-scale video surveillance system, security checks, and ubiquitous police presence, it makes China one of the safest countries you might visit.
People are respectful of the foreigners they encounter, treating them as either guests or curiosities. Of course, use common sense and be aware of your surroundings to feel completely at ease in China.
If safety in China is something that's on your list of things to worry about, then you need a new list. Read more on Quora.
On the dark side - things to know before moving to China
China has changed dramatically in the last decade or two and has made many strides over the years, even though there are still many problems. Since we're trying to be unbiased, we have to show the downsides of China - they are a part of life, too:
Although the networks are fast, major western social media like YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter are blocked or work slowly. This Internet control has not only political but a protectionist purpose, helping the development of Chinese Internet companies. (Look at TikTok, the international version of the Chinese successful short video app Douyin). However, you can avoid of these problems if you invest in a decent VPN.
It’s gotten better in major cities recently due to the spread of electric vehicles, but China remains to a large extent “a world’s factory”. Travel once in a while from cities to other areas in China (such as Yunnan, Hainan) where the air is clean. Unfortunately, the air is more or less polluted in most of the megalopolises in the world, so check Air Matters and compare the city in China with your hometown.
China has come a long way in the last years, fixing the traffic light system and enforcing the rules, although at this point the traffic system is more of a negative. People still rarely stop for you. So, don’t look at your phone while crossing the street. Drivers might drive on sidewalks if they have to.
Media has shown plenty of problems in China - corruption, ghost cities, spitting, Great Firewall, video surveillance, national debt, social credit. You can easily find them yourself.
What's more important, once you're in China, you get a chance to experience unsolicited, unfiltered views, both good and bad, from a non-Western perspective. It will be refreshing, eye-opening, and enlightening.