13 Reasons Why You Should Teach in China
Considering teaching English in China but unsure if it's right for you? Well here are my top 13 reasons why you should teach in China from my own experience.
1. You will save money
At my past teaching job, I had a decent amount of money leftover every month after bills were paid. Here is a breakdown of my scenario. Keep in mind that the salary and expenses were all per month.
Salary 13,000¥ = $1,886 U.S. dollars
Utilities 200¥ = $30 U.S. dollars
Rent: 1,800¥ = $260 U.S. dollars
After paying all bills for the month, I had an estimated 11,000¥ leftover each month, which equals almost $1,600 U.S. dollars. I admit, I might not be the best at math, but after paying off all my monthly bills this is still a lot of money to spare. I lived in an apartment with two roommates so my rent was a lot cheaper than if I had lived alone. Since rent and utilities were so cheap in China, it was easy for me to save money. Of course you have to pay for other expenses such as groceries and clothes but depending on where you eat and shop, those expenses will only put a dent in your leftover money.
2. Explore nearby countries
With the money that I saved, I was able to travel to other surrounding countries. In just one year, I traveled to Japan, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Hong Kong and many different cities within China. Flights from China to surrounding countries are also fairly cheap (depending on where you are going.) With all the traveling I did, I wasn't able to save a lot, but the experiences I had were worth far more than the money.
3. You can explore other Chinese cities
Despite the fact that China is one giant country, every city in China is like its own world. Shanghai, for example, is the world's largest city. It is fast-paced, crowded and there's always something happening. Guilin, on the other hand, is a quieter city that offers bamboo rafting down the river or the chance to climb limestone hills. These two contrasting cities are just one example of the different, but unique cultures that each city in China has to offer.
4. Learn the language
Chinese is a beautiful language and one that many expats take up to learn when living in the country. I'll be honest that when I first came to China I went to about four classes and then I stopped going. Learning a new language is something you really need to be dedicated and committed to and at the time I was not. However, from those four classes alone I am now able to say common Chinese phrases that help me to communicate on a daily basis. If learning Chinese is a goal that you have and something you are dedicated to doing, then teaching in China will be the perfect time to do it.
5. Meet other expats
Living in China has given me the opportunity to meet people from all over the world. I've met expats from America, Russia, India, England, France, China, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, and the list just goes on and on. Having the opportunity to meet people from around the world is an incredible experience. So far, I have lived in two different Chinese cities and both have had a great community of expats. There are bars, clubs and restaurants that expats regularly go to. There is also the opportunity to meet people through hobbies such as yoga class, Chinese class, the gym, tango class, etc. If you put yourself out there, you are bound to meet other people.
6. You will feel safe
I can't think of a moment that I've ever felt unsafe in China. People in China are friendly, helpful and the crime rate is low. Of course this means that you still need to be careful, especially at night. In crowded areas such as bars and nightclubs, people are bound to get drunk and have fights but this is not a China thing, it is a human thing. Even so, I can honestly say that I've felt safer walking down the street at night in China than I ever felt in my home place, Minnesota.
7. You become more well-rounded
Teaching in China gives you the opportunity to explore the country, learn the language, try new foods and learn about the culture. You can only learn so much from a textbook. Living in a different country is the real educational deal.
8. Amazing vacation time
The seven different countries that I visited during my year of teaching in China required more than having money, it also required having a decent amount of vacation time. During Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Years and Dragon Boat Festival, teachers are given around a week off of work for each holiday. Keep in mind that your school will also give you annual leave. I've only worked at a training school (a school that offers English to students a couple of days a week) but I know that some teachers who work at public schools or universities are given the entire summer off. Teaching English will most likely mean that you will have a decent amount of vacation time, but make sure to do research on the school beforehand and ask plenty of questions.
9. Try new food
Do you love sweet and sour chicken? Cream cheese wontons? Well, forget about it! Authentic Chinese cuisine is nothing like Chinese food back in America. Instead, you will have the opportunity to try delicious local Chinese cuisine that you wouldn't find anywhere else in the world. Some of my favorites are Peking duck wraps, steamed dumplings, and hot-pot.
10. Paid Certifications
Before I could begin teaching in China, I had to become TEFL certified. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this acronym, it stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. The China government has buckled down and become stricter on its requirements for English teachers; luckily, obtaining a TEFL certification isn't that difficult. The school that I taught English for actually paid for all of my TEFL classes and paid for me to go to Beijing for two weeks for training. The chances of finding a school that will pay for your TEFL certification is pretty high. Remember, just ask questions.
10. Technology in China makes life simpler
My first couple weeks in China consisted of my new co-workers asking me if I had downloaded the apps WeChat, Alipay, DiDi or TaoBao on my phone yet. My responses were, "No, what is this? What's that?" To say that technology is on the rise in China is an understatement. People in China pay for food, drinks, clothes, taxi rides, everything with their phone simply by scanning QR codes. The days of paying with cash in China are long gone. Well actually it still exists, but whenever I do pay for something with cash, it usually takes the salesperson a second to process what I am doing.
11. You get to teach English!
When I first started teaching, I was worried about whether or not I would be a good teacher. I worried that I would be too playful or too strict. I worried that my students would have bad learning results. I worried about not knowing how to use the smart boards. All those worries flew out the window when I actually began teaching. Nothing feels more rewarding than when my youngest students learned how to say "My name is _______. I am ______ years old."
12. You develop a relationship with your students
Piggybacking off of reason #11, your students will make your teaching job worth it. When they see you in the morning and run up to you to hug you or bring you a sweet card that they made at home, your heart will truly melt. The hardest part about leaving my first teaching job was saying goodbye to my students. After a year with them you are bound to get attached, but it's like they say "all good things must come to an end." Luckily, the memories will last forever.
13. You will enhance your resume
Working as a teacher shows that you have leadership skills, but it also shows that you can handle challenging situations. You are away from your family, friends and the life you've always known for a whole year. It also shows that you have international experience since you are living and working abroad. These reasons will definitely make you competitive in the job market.
If you still have questions or want to share about your own teaching experience in China, let me know in the comments!