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What is it like to live and work in Asia, specifically China?

Diary submitted by Charlotte C, Erasmus+ internship in Valencia

Teaching around the world has always interested me and has recently become my chosen career path. I guess it all started when I visited Thailand with the school, to do an exchange and learn about the Thai lifestyle and help them learn English. It was by far the best experience I have ever had, and completely changed my outlook on life and the world. Since then, I have always held Asia as a very special place, and promised myself to return as soon as possible, visiting other places. Now, I plan to go to work in China for a year after graduation, but often I do get asked the same question; ‘What is it about China that appeals to me and so many other graduates as a place to travel or work?’

Well, I cannot speak for everyone, but I will share some ideas which I have seen and also read about China, and why it is such an amazing place to visit, and specifically focusing on the benefits of TEFL. 

TEFL wages and opportunities:

Whilst hunting for a TEFL job, I was shocked to see just how many different opportunities China has to offer. Almost every website I visited suggested that Asia was the best place to work, with the best opportunities. English Teachers are in such high demand there, that they can offer so many different experiences, to suit everyone, such as kindergarten, adult beginners or even private school work. This for me, is a real positive, and it is settling as a TEFL teacher to know that there is no work shortage. 

Alongside these opportunities also comes a very decent wage package, on top of other benefits. It is stated that monthly salaries can range from £1,500 to almost £3000 (Depending on your qualifications), which is also paid on top of a housing allowance, airfare and health insurance. Of course, different companies offer different things, so it may be useful to hunt around for the best deal to suit you but for me as a graduate, this is a winner, as it would be extremely difficult to find a job that well paid as a graduate in the UK.

Culture and tourism:

China is said to be like the phoenix – vibrant, dynamic and totally different to any other place. On one side you have towering sky scrapers and high-end business then we visit the beautifully crafted heritage buildings and the local festivities- which is something travellers always suggest visiting or taking part in. 

I think the most intriguing thing about China is their values and believes. Buddhism is a very important part of their life, from displaying Buddhist caves and holy mountains for prayer, to the niche sayings developed by the Buddhism beliefs. 

There’s no doubt that this is a very religious and respected country- which for some may come as a shock compared to other countries. Nevertheless, this country also has a wide diversity of ethnical groups, and visitors are always welcome so long as they understand the ‘rules’. 

Teaching guidelines:

 When it comes to understanding the teaching out there, there isn’t an awful lot to discuss. Most of the timetables are similar to England in terms of hours and teaching, although this really depends on the type of school and job you have. Some require a later finish, but this is very common for any TEFL job. The only significant difference I found is that sometimes you will work weekends, and instead have two consecutive days off during the week- which, if this is the norm, will be your ‘weekend’ anyway. The class sizes will vary, and most will contain at least one fluent teacher, in order to help when it comes to the language barrier. 

Considerations and ‘rules’. 

Whilst Teaching in China is very appealing, here are a few ‘ground rules’ which should be considered or discussed. 

  • Don’t point or stare at anyone, this is extremely rude in China. 
  • Facebook and other social media forms are censored In China, meaning you may not be able to contact others or post on social media during your stay
  • Whilst LGBT laws were legalised in 1997, they still have some issues with same-sex couples and marrying or adopting is still illegal. 
  • Kissing and public signs of affection are not the ‘norm’ in China- so be careful when walking around the city. It’s not an offence, but people may react in a negative way. 

Whilst it is essential to consider the rules of any country you visit, I believe China has some fantastic opportunities to offer when it comes to TEFL Teaching and I cannot wait to begin my next adventure after graduation, and hopefully this will open your eyes to the possibilities that this amazing city has to offer. 

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