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Author Topic: 10 Reasons to Teach in China  (Read 562 times)

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October 15, 2015, 07:56:30 PM
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1. It's good for your career

I applied for the ELA programme in China because I wanted to try teaching, to travel and see whether I could handle living in a challenging country. I had a hunch it could lead somewhere interesting. Although I enjoyed the experience, it turned out that teachingís not for me, but my hunch was right: Iím now working as Political Visits Officer at the British Embassy in Beijing. Skills that I picked up from teaching Ė the ability to think on my feet, tailor my communication style for different audiences and hide my nerves when speaking in front of large groups of people Ė are transferable to almost any working environment and have been essential in my job. Coincidentally (or perhaps not!) there are a few other former ELAs at the embassy, as well. Besides government work, there are, if you look for them, opportunities in the arts, media and business.

2. The students are fun

The students are, for the most part, enthusiastic, entertaining and appreciative. It is, however, a bit of a myth that Chinese students are really well behaved. In fact, a lot of them view their Ďforeign teacher classí as a chance to relax and take a break from the pressure of their other classes, but this is no bad thing, as it means you can play games and generally have a bit fun.

3. China is completely different and diverse

To say that Chinese culture is different from Western culture is an understatement. China is a huge, geographically, ethnically and culturally diverse country, whose history (as youíll frequently hear from students and colleagues) spans more than 5,000 years. The historic sites are impressive and fascinating, but some of the best places in which to soak up the culture are local parks, where youíll see Tai-Chi, ballroom dancing, bird cages hung in trees, and people doing a bit of casual karaoke or singing revolutionary Ďredí songs.

4. Living in China is like living in time-lapse mode

Before living in China, I was of course aware of the countryís incredible transformation, but what I found surprising is how much you notice the world around you changing. Thereís a strange feeling that history is speeding up, as buildings seem to pop up over night, subway lines open and the whole feeling of a city shifts.

5. You actually get to live abroad and are not a tourist

Before moving to China Iíd done a fair amount of travelling, but had never actually lived abroad. It wasnít like I expected. Itís not always as exciting and with less going on to distract you, it can be easy to get homesick sometimes. For me it was the small things, like stopping to chat with my neighbours and joining the local gym that made me feel part of the community and this was ultimately far more interesting and gratifying than travelling.

6. You can make friends with local people

Itís fair to say that the first two weeks of induction training in Beijing is a bit like Freshersí Week. This, depending on your capacity for drinking and karaoke, is either quite fun or a bit tiring. One thing is certain though, youíll leave Beijing with a network of friends all over China and once you start teaching and bond over the shared experiences of the bizarre and/or frustrating situations thrown up in the classroom, you quickly form very close friendships with the other ELAs. Making friends with Chinese people takes more effort, but isnít difficult if youíre proactive about making the most of opportunities to meet people.

7. There's always someone who looks after you

One of the main differences between teaching on the British Council scheme and finding a job independently in China is that, as an ELA, you are guaranteed a certain level of support. In practice, this varies from school to school, but at a minimum, each ELA is assigned a mentor teacher. My mentor teacher was lovely and went out of her way to help me settle in and to offer me advice on lesson planning and dealing with difficult classes throughout the year.

8. The food is phenomenal

I wasnít hugely keen on Chinese food before I moved here and was pleasantly surprised to discover that authentic Chinese food is worlds apart from the soggy spring rolls and greasy chow mein Iíd had in the UK. Every province in China has its own distinct style of cooking, so the variety of cuisine is unbelievable and there is something for everybody, regardless of whether youíre an adventurous eater or prefer simple but tasty meat and vegetable dishes.

9. The travel opportunities are awesome

With more than 1.3 billion people, Chinaís transport network is, by necessity, pretty efficient. Itís got high-speed trains or slower sleeper trains for those on a budget, cheap flights and minibuses for hire. Whatever youíre looking for - mountains, desert, temples, ice sculpture festivals, rice terraces, beaches, iconic architecture Ė China has it all, and more. Admittedly, travelling during Spring Festival can be a bit of a nightmare, with decent train tickets selling out almost as soon as they go on sale, but itís the challenge that makes it an adventure.

10. You acquire impressive language skills Ė more easily than people think

Speaking, or even trying to understand Chinese is often synonymous with the impossible, but once youíre living here, youíll learn the reality is very different. As long as youíre willing to put in some work, take lessons, and make an effort to practice what you learn with your colleagues and friends, you can pick up quite a lot in a short time. But thatís not to say you shouldnít perpetuate the myth: As long as everyone back home thinks learning Mandarin is incredibly difficult, theyíll all continue to be impressed!

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October 15, 2015, 08:04:34 PM
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For those who are passionate about adventure, education, or traveling, teaching abroad offers the opportunity of a lifetime.  Not only does it provide invaluable work experience, but it also allows you to connect with a new culture while still earning money.  Furthermore, the challenges of living and working in a foreign environment enhance international awareness, making you more independent and open-minded at the same time. In China, the English language market is growing rapidly.  While salaries for teaching English in China are typically lower than elsewhere in Asia, the average cost of living is lower as well ó as a result, foreign teachers can easily put aside an ample sum of money for holiday travel.  Furthermore, teaching contracts offered by Chinese host institutions normally include furnished housing accommodations, so rent-free living allows earnings to be spent at a leisurely rate.
China, a country that has only recently opened its doors to international commerce and trade, has witnessed a great many changes and challenges over the past few decades.  China is home to one of the worldís richest and most ancient civilizations, and provides a wide range of unique cultural opportunities: from martial arts to calligraphy, traditional medicine to Eastern philosophy, China offers a little something for everyone. Last but not least, teaching in China provides complete immersion into Chinese language and culture.  Mandarin Chinese is earthís most widely spoken language, currently understood by more than one billion people worldwide.  Not only the official language of the Peopleís Republic of China (PRC) and Taiwan, Mandarin Chinese is also spoken in the influential Chinese communities of Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, the Philippines, Mongolia, and Indonesia.  The language skills that you gain while teaching in China can open the way to many different fields of work, including economics, politics, history and business.

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October 15, 2015, 08:13:09 PM
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I previously told you about a few reasons why you should come teach English in China immediately. While I still believe that this is one of the best decisions you can make in your life, I feel like itís important to be fully honest with you. You see, there are certain types of people who just arenít cut out for living and working overseas Ė particularly when it comes to teaching English in China. If you find yourself nodding your head in agreement with the descriptions below, itís best if you just donít teach English in China, or maybe any country!

You Donít Really Want To Teach

You might think this one goes without saying, right? Well, youíd be surprised by the number of teachers that are teaching English overseas that have no interest in teaching English at all. Most of these teachers are simply working as an English teacher to pay for their drinking and traveling habits. If you want to travel the world and get drunk and party all the time, I certainly canít blame you. Itís a fun way to spend your time, but it shouldnít be your priority if you want to teach English overseas. You are doing a disservice to your students if youíre going to show up to class hungover every morning without as much as a care given to the impact youíre having on future generations. Donít get me wrong, one of the best parts of living overseas is getting to have fun and party with the locals and other expats. Just give yourself a reality check and make sure youíre teaching because you truly want to, not to pay for the ever-increasing tab youíve built up at the local watering hole.

You Refuse To Try New Things

Have you ever met that person who is so stuck in their ways that they refuse to try anything that might take them outside of their comfort zone? If youíre thinking that description hits really close to home, it may be best if you donít teach English in China. You see, China is very different from your home country. In fact, almost everything about China is going to be completely different from what youíre used to. If youíre not the kind of person that is open to trying new things, youíre going to have a very hard time living and working in China. Itís going to make you depressed and itís going to make people around you not like you very much. One of the most exciting things about moving to a new country is getting the chance to open yourself up to entirely new ways of living and thinking. Make sure your mind and heart are open to these opportunities before you get on the plane, or itís probably not going to work out for you.

You Canít Roll With The Punches

Are you the kind of person that flips out immediately whenever something doesnít go your way? If so, itís definitely best if you donít teach English in China! When youíre living overseas, things are going to go differently than you planned pretty often. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Rolling with the punches is part of being an expat overseas. There will be lots of little moments where cultural differences or language barriers get in the way. However, if you can keep your cool and just learn to smile when things go astray, youíll have no problem adjusting to life in China. The experiences you have as an expat will give you a valuable new lens to look at the world through and make you truly understand how to be a patient and forgiving person. Youíll never get the same experience and ability to grow by staying safely in your home country.

You Think Your Country/Culture Is Better Than All Others

There are few things more annoying than meeting the expat who wants to constantly talk about how things are done back home and why everything there is so much better. This annoys me as an expat, but it annoys the locals even more. If youíre going to live and work in another country, itís important that you respect the locals and their way of life. One of the most valuable lessons Iíve learned living overseas is that other ways of living are not necessarily right or wrong by default, theyíre just different. Come with an open mind and you will learn a lot about yourself and even remove some of your cultural programming in the process. If you come with a closed mind and a superiority complex, youíre quickly going to alienate everyone you meet and youíre going to get very little out of your experience. Teaching and working overseas should give you the valuable experience of deeply understanding a different culture, but it will only happen if you allow it to. If youíre not ready for this, then just stay at home where itís safe.

You Have No Interest In Learning About A New Culture

The Chinese culture is thousands of years old and has endless wonders for the new expat to explore. However, lots of people go overseas and have no interest in learning about a new culture. While Iím not saying you need to have a PHD level knowledge of Chinese culture, refusing to learn anything will make things very hard for you during your time in China. Learning the cultural norms and the way to act in social situations is something you absolutely must do if you choose to live in a country. While the locals may let you get away with a lot as a foreigner, you donít want to be one of those disrespectful jerks that makes Chinese people look down on anyone from the West. Think of yourself as a cultural ambassador when youíre over in China and you will have a far more valuable experience than if you close yourself off to everything that doesnít fit within your cultural framework. Youíll have an awesome opportunity to pick up a language that is rapidly becoming more and more valuable as well.

Youíre Not Ready For A Challenge

While teaching English in China is certainly a lot of fun, itís also going to be a challenging experience. It is challenging for different reasons for different people. You may be teaching for the first time. You may have never left your home country and might be shocked by day to day life in China. You canít predict what might challenge you before you go to China, but you can be confident that there will be some challenges along the way. We started this company to help prepare people for life in China. We want to make sure that you go to a good school and have all the tools you need to succeed.

However, we canít give you all of the tools ourselves. The most important tool for success is a calm demeanor and confidence in yourself that you can deal with challenges. You wonít find any challenge too big to deal with in China if you come ready and confident that you can adjust to life in a land far different from home. There are many expats who have adjusted to life in China after struggling at first. Youíll learn things about the world that you never learned in school and youíll likely find yourself on the list of people that never want to leave China once you get past the initial struggles of adjusting to life in a brand new land.

You Canít Live Without The Comforts Of Home

Look, I canít emphasize enough that things are going to be really different in China. If youíre expecting to have all the comforts of home, it just isnít going to happen. People that move overseas and try to perfectly recreate their lives back home either end up frustrated, or broke Ė sometimes both.

If you intend to eat Western food for every meal, you can certainly do it Ė but youíre going to quickly run out of money, since a premium price tag is fetched for Western food. Why would you limit yourself like this with delicious Chinese food everywhere for a small fraction of the price youíd pay for a gross burger from McDonalds? If youíre going to live overseas, you need to have the mindset of learning to appreciate all the awesome things that you can have in your adopted home that are nowhere to be found Ė or incredibly expensive Ė back in your hometown. Youíll be surprised at how many awesome things you never knew existed in the world once you get to China Ė but only if youíre not too busy trying to recreate your life back in the West while living in the East.

Youíre Not Ready To Have The Time Of Your Life

Despite all the challenges that come along with moving to a brand new country, you also get to have an experience that few people in the world can have. Youíre going to have more fun than you ever knew was possible Ė even doing things that would be horribly mundane back home. When is the last time you had a blast going to the grocery store and checking out the products in various aisles? When was the last time you were shocked and delighted by a dish found at a local hole in the wall restaurant? When you live overseas, every day is a constant adventure. Teaching English is incredibly rewarding and youíre going to have so much fun making a difference in the lives of Chinese people. If youíre the kind of person that hates fun, you should stay far away from teaching and living in China.

An education isn't how much you have committed to memory, or even how much you know. It's being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don't.