I know it’s hard to believe – a teaching job with a decent salary and enough time to travel and explore? I thought so too when my friend told me about his experiences while teaching English abroad. But then I did some more research and decided it really was worth a try. Among other possibilities, I chose to teach English in China.
Why China? Well, with a huge population, a growing demand for learning English, and a rich culture, China offers both the job opportunities and the excitement any teacher would wish for.
As a South African you are from the start in a very good position to become a teacher in China. Being able to speak English as a native language is a valuable asset nowadays and more and more South Africans are using that advantage to find satisfying teaching jobs in China. There is a large South African expat community there and you may even contact some of the members if you have any questions about their life abroad.
Even though as a South African you enjoy a wide range of choice regarding the countries you can teach in, let me give you a few reasons why teaching in China was a dream come true for me and why it may also be the same for you.
1. English Teachers are in High Demand
China is booming, and with its rapidly growing middle class, many people are looking to improve their lives and the lives of their children. Speaking English can open many doors for them. That’s where you come in.
There are so many places where you can teach: kindergartens, high schools, international schools, language schools… Even Chinese companies are hiring teachers to help their business professionals.
There are certain requirements you must meet to be able to teach in China, and you will, of course, need to obtain an employment visa (Z-visa), but this is a relatively straightforward process. Make some effort and, depending on your contract and the city you choose, you can enjoy benefits such as free housing, free flights or a housing allowance.
2. Travel Opportunities are Fantastic
Yes, after a while you will have time to travel around the country and experience it like no tourist can. China has so much to offer!
There are the well-known big cities, of course. But this country is so much more. Its Xi’an and Shaanxi provinces are the home of the most exciting hikes and remains of ancient cities. Guilin and Yangshuo offer backpackers the chance to explore hot springs, mud caves, and the famous rice fields, all while staying in nearby villages.
Whatever province you choose, you are guaranteed something spectacular!
3. You Can Learn a New Language
They say that Chinese is extremely difficult to learn. However, once you move there, you’ll realise that it’s not quite the case. If you’re willing to put in some work, immerse yourself in the language every day and communicate with the locals, you can pick up a lot in a short time.
Start with the basics, practise regularly with your friends or students, and you will move on to more complex things soon.
And anyway – wouldn’t this new ability look impressive in your CV?
4. The Food is Amazing
Every province in China has its distinct style of cooking, so the variety of dishes is unbelievable. There is something for everyone. For example, noodles and dumplings are typical for Northern China, sweet and light food for Eastern China, while in the central part they mostly like really spicy dishes.
You will also learn a lot about customs and etiquette in Chinese dining, which may be quite different than what you’re used to. All in all, even the food in China is an adventure!
5. The Students Are Fun
For the most part, the students in China are enthusiastic, fun-loving and respectful of their teachers.
However, it is a bit of a myth that they are really well-behaved in class. A lot of them see their ‘’foreign teacher class’’ as an opportunity to take a break from the pressure of their other classes. But this isn’t a bad thing. It just means that you can do your job in a more relaxed manner, with more fun games!
Teaching English in China is a lot of work, especially in the beginning, but it is also hugely rewarding. Besides being excellent for your career, it also comes with some benefits that teachers in many other countries don’t have.
With some effort put in, you may have an unforgettable life experience!