10 Things to Expect About Teaching English in China

If you’re looking for a reason (or few) to teach English in China, it has the potential to be a very long list. We know choosing a country to teach English abroad in can be a difficult decision—and there are so many factors to consider! But here are just a few reasons why you won’t regret teaching English in China:

1. Amazing Students

You might find that, for some of your students, having the chance to interact with a foreigner excites and motivates them to learn. The younger students are also known to get a bit attached to you as a teacher, so expect some tearful goodbyes (hey—you might even be the one crying)! In addition to their eagerness to learn about you and your culture, you’ll also find them to be smart learners, with an often great understanding and interest in American culture and television, which gives you plenty to talk about.

2. Talent Shows

Talent shows are a big thing in China! Your school may have one, two, or three in one semester to enjoy. There is always a theme, so be prepared for the latest in pop culture, something historically cultural, or even a theme that will feel random to you. Get into it and have fun! The same goes for karaoke. In China, everybody is a singer and few are shy about it. They won’t know what you mean if you say “I can’t sing!”

3. Feel Respected

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It’s no secret that China is one of those countries that reveres its educators. There will likely be a Teacher’s Day during your semester, and it’s not uncommon for students to make homemade gifts for you and their other teachers. You’ll feel respected every day, though, not just on Teacher’s Day. 

4. Feel Appreciated

If you think the students will go out of their way to make you feel loved and respected, just wait until you get appreciation from the parents, too! Be prepared to receive gifts that feel too grandiose and dinner invites. Always say “yes”—it’s such an incredible cultural opportunity!

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5. Cultural Opportunities

Speaking of cultural opportunities, your country may be highlighted in what’s known as a Cultural Day in Chinese schools. There will likely be foreign dishes, customs and traditions to celebrate. And even if they don’t highlight your country, it will still be exciting to see how they depict chosen culture(s) as you participate alongside the students.

6. Feel Like a Star!

Something you should be prepared for is sticking out like a sore thumb. But that’s okay—they’re happy to have you! And because they love having you there, they may even want to take pictures with you or to practice their English. Remain open and make some new friends!

7. The Food

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Go all in! What you think is Chinese food will look different once you’re in-country. Local dishes vary city to city, so be sure to try a bit of everything as you travel around. And as a rule of thumb: just because something looks weird, doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious! This includes parts of animals you might not eat back home, or strange candies and sweet breads.

8. Historical Connections

Chinese history is one of the longest examples in the world (5,000 years to be exact). Learn as much as you can while you’re there! From traditions, to significance of religious sites, to stories only the elderly can tell, to why a particular dish is made in specific city, to political and cultural histories…there’s so much to take in!

9. Feel at Home a World Away

Feeling like a special guest in a country extremely different than your own won’t happen everywhere—but it will in China! Known for their hospitality, you’ll likely feel comfortable. This is not to say you won’t experience a bit of culture shock, but rest easy knowing you will be treated well.

10. Incredible Landscape

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If you didn’t already know, China is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the world, containing deserts, rainforests, snowy mountains (great for skiing!), huge cities, tropical beaches, and grasslands. One day you could be in a city with technology overload, and the next you’re in a village with no running water. There is so much to see around every corner—take advantage!

Ready to jump in yet? China is waiting for you!


Words by Jayla Rae Ardelean. Images from Pixabay.