Life as a teacher in China
Life as a teacher in China
What qualifications should one have in teaching?
What courses are required to teacher?
How about the compensation in China?
How do teachers cope with the lack of English speakers around them initially?
What social interactions regularily occur with oreigners/teachers?
If I can’t speak, read or write the Chinese language, how do I do everyday things?
Are there places where foreign teachers congrgate?
Does the school provide meals to the foreign teachers?
Can I use my mobile phone in China?
Will my school sponsor some travel excursions during my stay in China?
I have heard that official welcome dinners and banquets in a teachers honour are readily held, is this true?
Can I also bring my spouse (partner) and child with me to China?
Can I learn the Chinese language during my stay in China?
What is the attitude of the Chinese people towards foreigners?
What is the electrical power system in China if I bring some electrical appliances?
Am I allowed to leave the school campus (when I am not teaching) whenever I like, or will I have to ask for permission?
Can you give me a rough estimate of the monthly living expenses in a big city (rent, food, transportation, etc)?
1.What qualifications should one have in teaching?
The basic qualifications are: being a native speaker of English, having a minimum BA degree and commitment to teaching, loving China and its people. Clear, well-spoken English and a good knowledge of the fundamentals of English grammar. Teaching experience/certificate is preferred but not a must. For those interested in a long-term career in ESL teaching, however, it is strongly recommended that teaching qualifications be attained. For more information regarding suitable training for ESL positions, please see the Upgrade Your Skills page.
2.What courses are required to teacher?
Depending on the particular school you are placed in, you may be asked to teach some of the following courses: English & American literature, linguistics, reading, composition, grammar, cultural survey of English-speaking countries, conversational English and English for Special Purposes (ESP) such as business English. There are universities that need teachers to teach more specialized subjects such as accounting, international marketing and law.
3.How about the compensation in China?
For your service at a state college or university, you will be paid between 3,000 and 5,000RMB/month (roughly $360-$600) in addition to free housing and health care. If you commit to one year of teaching, most host schools will reimburse at least a one-way ticket and many schools will a round-trip ticket. Some schools will also provide a traveling allowance equivalent to half of a month,s salary. 2,000-3,000RMB a month is far greater than what Chinese professors get paid, it,s little money by the Western standards. In any case, things are cheap in China and 2,000RMB is enough to cover your basic expenses. However people come to teach in China mainly for the experience with the culture and the people.
There are also people who use the opportunity as an investment for their future career. Private institutes, mostly under Western management, generally pay more than state colleges and universities. The pay ranges from $500-$1200 per month. All of them reimburse a round-trip ticket to China if you commit to one year of teaching at least.
4.How do teachers cope with the lack of English speakers around them initially?
There is never a lack of English speakers around you. As every person in China is attempting to become proficient in English everyone will be attempting to practice on you. Obviously the ability of some of these people (students and adults) range from poor to good, the ability to convey your message however is quite easy.
Coupled with this is the fact that every foreign teacher has a school appointed Foreign Director whose job it is, is to assist you with your requirements in regards to your employment and living at the school and in the city, your Foreign Director can speak English. Remember also that we are not too far away if you require our assistance with any matter whatsoever.
5.What social interactions regularily occur with oreigners/teachers?
There are forms of social interaction between foreigners every week, mostly on the weekend. Once you arrive you will be informed of these activities and venues. Socialization with the Chinese will start from the moment you disembark from the plane.
6.If I can’t speak, read or write the Chinese language, how do I do everyday things?
Purchasing most every day items in China is as easy as it is in the west. Most products have Chinese and English labels from food to toilet paper. Prices and descriptions of items such as buses, trains, highway buses, motorbike and the price for meat, vegetables and all household items will be told to you by your schools Foreign Director. Until you gain your "shopping skills" in China there will always be someone from your contracted school to assist you in any way they can.
7.Are there places where foreign teachers congrgate?
There are many places to meet people, Chinese or foreign, from restaurants to coffee bars to discos to city parks and English corners and the like. In regard to the perception of Chinese socializing with ,westerners, it is generally acceptable as long as both parties socialize with each other in a respectable and courteous manner. The old adage "treat others how you would like to be treated" applies.
8.Does the school provide meals to the foreign teachers?
Most teachers can eat at their schools cafeteria, through the provision of a food card, at a heavily discounted rate. Most meals are quite sizeable and extremely nutritious and are priced at between 3-6 RMB per meal, approximately $0.35-0.70USD per meal. As most institutions in China take boarders there are cafeterias at most schools. Generally you must eat when the students eat at 7.00am for breakfast, 12.00 for lunch and 6.00pm for dinner.
9.Can I use my mobile phone in China?
In most instances you will be able to use your mobile phone in China, thus it is for this reason we advise teachers to bring their phone with them.
You can buy prepaid SIM cards for use locally and for international calls. International Roaming can become prohibitively expensive.
10.Will my school sponsor some travel excursions during my stay in China?
During the National Holidays, the school authority will normally organize various celebration activities and visits to many of the significant and historical sites within the province, often providing you with free accommodation, transportation and meals.
11.I have heard that official welcome dinners and banquets in a teachers honour are readily held, is this true?
Mainland Chinese are extremely friendly, generous, hospitable and kind people. During your entire stay in China, you shall be treated as one of China,s most respected guests by your host organization, local government authority, and local communities and by all your students. You shall be invited to many dinners and banquets for various occasions, which have been known to number over 10 a year. This is why most teachers say their living and working in China is one of the most exciting, impressive and unforgettable experiences of their lives.
12.Can I also bring my spouse (partner) and child with me to China?
Certainly, Chinese universities, colleges and High Schools will be delighted to welcome your family to China during your teaching period in China. We encourage this, and actively support those couples and families where both partners wish to work. We provide work in the same institution and if a child accompanies you, your school and we seek to organize your teaching schedule around the provision of supervision of your child.
Chinese schools however will not be responsible for your spouse,s expenses (air ticket, health insurance, holidays expenses, etc.) unless your spouse can also to teach English at the Chinese school.
13.Can I learn the chinese language during my stay in China?
At all of the Chinese schools, you may be afforded the privilege of taking free Chinese lessons. Also it is often easy to exchange English lessons for Chinese lessons with students and teachers alike. China has many television channels, but only one in English, CCTV 9, and only a couple of English language newspapers; so for those who feel compelled to keep abreast with current affairs, other than via the Internet, learning Chinese can be a distinct advantage.
14.What is the attitude of the chinese people towards foreigners?
As with any large group of people, and China has the biggest, there are differing opinions and attitudes; however, almost invariably teachers have the most wonderful and exciting experience during their time in China. The Han Chinese are the most hospitable, warmest, generous of people, equal to the friendliest people in the world, and generally demonstrate a great deal of respect for foreigners, remember also that teaching and teachers in China are some of the most respected people in the society.
15.What is the electrical power system in China if I bring some electrical appliances?
Power Voltage in China is 220volt/ 50 hertz and plugs and sockets are mostly, 2pin round plug, otherwise western 3pin or occasionally, universal. Power is supplied continuously 24 hours per day, except in some very remote areas. Being without electricity is unlikely to affect you unless traveling.
16.Am I allowed to leave the school campus (when I am not teaching) whenever I like, or will I have to ask for permission?
You are allowed to leave the campus whenever you like (if stated in the contract), your movements are not restricted. If you choose to leave the city then the School may ask you to inform them, this is only a precautionary measure as the School will merely be concerned for your safety and thus a safe return. Usually, once you have familiarized yourself with the transport systems and the like, which we will assist you with, the school is more at ease with the notion of you traveling
17.Can you give me a rough estimate of the monthly living expenses in a big city (rent, food, transportation, etc)?
In big cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the average food cost is about 800 yuan, 1500 or so for renting an apartment and 1000 for taxi (if by bus and underway 300 is enough).
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