Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated November 15, 2018
By Mike Cairnduff

Do’s and don’ts of teaching in China

Ever thought about leaving your boring life behind to teach English in China?

If so, you need to consider the following top tips for a stress-free and enjoyable experience.

For a more in-depth look at teaching in China, download the free ebook, 10 Do’s & Don’ts for Teaching English in China.

1. Do plan before you go

Being clear about what you want out of your experience, identifying your personal preferences and doing your research about what’s available in China is critical.

Key questions to ask when thinking about teaching in China are:

  • What type of school do you want to work in?
  • What part of China do you want to work in?
  • What salary and working conditions are you prepared to accept?

Although you may not have any particular preferences, you should at least have a think about these questions as they will ultimately shape the kind of experience you will have.

Do plan before you teach in China

What part of China do you want to teach in?

2. Do read your teaching contract carefully

You have to sign a contract to formally accept a teaching position in China. Before you do this though, you must read and understand it.

Generally, a contract is made up of two parts – English and Mandarin (the Mandarin section is a replica of the English section).

You should sign and date both sections once you’re happy with the terms and conditions.

3. Do arrive in China organized

There will be a lot to take in when you arrive, so getting off on the right foot by being prepared is vital.

Bring enough money to last you at least a month or so as you may not be paid your salary until a month after your first class (due to the school’s pay cycle).

4. Do respect your host school

Always be mindful that your school has gone to great efforts to invite you to come and work with them.

If there are any teething issues, communicate effectively and act professionally at all times. This will hold you in good stead.

When teaching in China, always respect your school hosts.

When teaching in China, always respect your school hosts.

5. Do immerse yourself in Chinese culture

You’ll get the most out of your experience if you try to live and breathe as much of China as you can.

Go ahead and sample the food, learn some of the Chinese language, travel in your spare time and rub shoulders with the locals. It's all part of soaking up China's incredible culture.

If all else fails, there’s no shortage of Western creature comforts like McDonalds and Starbucks!

6. Don’t choose a job based on salary alone

Choosing a teaching job in China based on salary alone is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.

In addition to salary, you need to consider other factors like the school’s location, your accommodation, the working conditions and class size.

7. Don’t buy the cheapest airfare

Once your contract is finalized, you’ll know how much money the school will reimburse you for the flight. In most cases, the amount should be more than enough to fly with a reputable, full-service airline in economy class.

Consequently, there’s no need to fly with a no-frills carrier, unless you’re on a very tight budget and can’t afford the initial investment to get you over there.

This might be the first time you don't have to obsess over the cheapest flights on Skyscanner!

8. Don’t expect the same conditions you’re used to

China is still a developing country. This means that the conditions, both inside and outside the classroom, will be different to what you’re used to.

This is not something to be afraid of, though – it just makes your experience all the more richer.

While teaching in China, don't expect the same conditions you're used to.

China is still a developing country and many parts of the country are not well developed.

Classroom facilities and equipment in China can vary greatly depending on the school. But don't worry - you'll survive!

9. Don’t be afraid of asking a lot of questions

To ensure you get the job and conditions that are right for you, you should ask your recruiter (like Hello Teacher!) as many questions as possible. All crucial information should be included in your teaching contract.

Once you arrive in China, keep asking questions. The more questions you ask about this incredible country, the more you’ll discover.

10. Don’t forget to have fun

Although much of your time in China will ultimately be spent working, don’t forget to have fun!

Do you have any top tips of your own? If so, please comment below.

With over 30 pages of helpful advice, practical tips and beautiful photos, the free ebook 10 Do’s & Don’ts for Teaching English in China is a must-have resource. Download your copy now.

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