Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated September 14, 2019
By Mike Cairnduff

China is better than South Korea as a teaching destination

You’ve decided to teach overseas but can’t pick between China and South Korea.

To help make the choice easy for you, here are six reasons why China is the better option.

Let's jump straight in.

1. Your money goes further

China is a developing country, but South Korea isn’t. This means that things are generally cheaper in China.

You can buy a delicious lunch from a street vendor for a couple of dollars, and wash it down with a supermarket-bought bottle of water for about 20 cents.

Now that’s cheap!

Cheap food is just one reason why China is better than South Korea as a teaching destination.

Food is cheap in China.

Accommodation, utility bills and even your internet connection are covered by public schools in China. If you choose to teach in a private language school, you'll receive money towards your housing expenses.

This means your spending will be restricted to just food, public transport and mobile phone, plus any sightseeing activities and socializing.

You can easily live in China for under US$10 a day.

Unlike many other developing countries, schools in China pay foreign teachers a generous local salary. Coupled with the low cost of living, this means you can live like a king or queen in China.

A typical teach in China salary ranges between RMB 6,000 and 18,000.

2. There’s loads more to do

If you could pick up South Korea and place it in China, you would have to do it 95 times to fill up all of China. That’s how big the country is.

Luckily, bullet trains connect cities and towns of all sizes thanks to an extensive transport network.

This means you can, quite literally, train-hop from one place to the next, taking in all that the country has to offer.

The capital, Beijing, is home to the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven, and the spectacular Great Wall of China is just a couple of hours away.

There's loads more to do - just one reason why China is better than South Korea as a teaching destination.

The Temple of Heaven is a popular attraction in Beijing.

But the attractions aren't limited to the capital.

China is home to 53 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, just one site shy of equaling Italy’s world-beating record.

Many of the sites are largely unknown outside China despite their significance, such as the imposing Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan province.

China also has many beautiful rural areas, including the remote province of Xinjiang. It borders eight countries including Russia, Afghanistan and India.

If you were to teach English in Xinjiang you would experience an ecologically diverse area, a rich culture and proud Uyghur people.

You simply can’t get this kind of experience teaching in South Korea.

3. Demand is super-high

It’s estimated that over 400 million people are actively learning English in China.

That’s more people than the combined population of the US, the UK and Australia. It’s an impressive statistic – and one that you can take advantage of.

The strong demand for native English teachers means upward pressure on salary and working conditions.

With China’s relatively low cost of living taken into consideration, it’s now comparable with many other overseas teaching destinations.

High demand is another reason why China is better than South Korea as a teaching destination.

Foreign teacher salaries in China keep climbing.

In addition, as China’s middle class continues to grow and get wealthier, parents will spend even more money on their children’s education.

The ability to speak English is highly regarded by Chinese people, and access to a native English speaker is the pinnacle.

4. Shanghai has more style than Gangnam

Ok, so I admit that this one is a little bit cheeky.

It is worth noting, however, that the blend of imperial foreign influences with Chinese tradition has resulted in Shanghai becoming one of the world’s coolest cities.

While South Korea can claim Gangnam Style songster Psy, Shanghai is teeming with world-class museums and exhibitions, chic shopping and cosmopolitan cuisine.

Take Xintiandi, for example. This redeveloped car-free area, just a stone’s throw from the heart of Shanghai, combines ancient Shikumen housing with modern shopping, eating and entertainment facilities.

And who could forget the Bund, a foreigner favorite. This waterside walkway gives you the best views of Shanghai from street level, including the exquisite European architecture of yesteryear.

5. The culture rocks!

Chinese culture is incredible. It’s unique, diverse and constantly changing.

Whether you’re interested in learning more about martial arts like Kung Fu, admiring the ‘feng shui’ of Chinese gardens or listening to Peking opera, China is brimming with culture.

China's incredible culture is just another reason why China is better than South Korea as a teaching destination.

Carefully designed gardens are an important part of Chinese culture.

Due to China’s enormous size, you’ll notice distinct cultural differences between the various provinces.

For example, spicy food might be enjoyed in one place while sweet food is the preference in another.

There can be recognizable cultural differences even within a province.

This makes teaching and traveling in China all the more interesting!

6. Learn one of the world's most important languages

Along with English and Spanish, Mandarin is one of the world's leading languages. In fact, it's the most spoken language in the world.

While you're not expected to know any Mandarin as a TEFL teacher in China, there will be plenty of opportunities to learn some of the language.

Everyday activities like going to the supermarket and catching public transport will expose you to Mandarin.

You'll also make Chinese friends who will want to teach you the language (such as these basic Mandarin phrases).

Plus, many schools offer free Mandarin lessons as part of your teaching package.

This makes the choice to teach in China over South Korea all the more sweeter.

Do you agree that China is a better choice than South Korea? Have your say below.


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