What to expect as a teacher in China
China is a huge country, and those teaching in China have an enormous landscape - both professionally and physically - to explore. Unlike most other countries, International Schools in China are not usually open to host national Chinese students, so international schools almost always have a broad mix of non-Chinese nationalities. Because of this idiosyncrasy, and responding to the demand for an education delivered in English, many well-to-do and very academic state schools are now opening up international sections for academically gifted Chinese students. In any case, which ever opportunity you choose, you will find the students are very academic - education is taken very seriously in this part of the world. And the education sector, both state schools and private schools, is growing rapidly. Culturally, China values education and educational attainment, making it a great place in which to teach as teachers are valued and revered.
Employment packages in China almost always include flights at the beginning and end of a two year contract, housing or a housing allowance and medical coverage. Most contracts in China are for two years, though a handful of state schools or local international schools might offer one year contracts. Salaries vary significantly across China and between schools, as the cost of living varies greatly. Major cities like Shanghai and Beijing are more expensive places to live and work, therefore salaries are higher but we always encourage teachers to consider all aspects of a package including the cost of living when making a decision since savings potential varies. Because of the rapid recent growth of the international education sector in China, with most international schools established after 1990, school buildings tend to be newer and are often well equipped. Housing is usually of a good expatriate standard but of course can vary by region, city and school. Shared housing is not very common, and apartment living is to be expected.
So whether you choose to teach in an international school or to teach in an international section of a state school, China is a vast country with deep cultural roots and a vibrant economy that has much to offer the ambitious, academic teacher.
"The language barrier forces you to use creative ways to communicate like taking photos of shop fronts, collecting restaurant cards, drawing funny maps and pictures and of course the hilarious hand gestures and odd body language. Expect the locals to smile or giggle when you speak because foreigners are still a novelty here. Changchun's Nan Hu Lake Park is a great place to visit and it freezes during winter becoming a white playground with skating areas, bike and car ice rides as well as kite flying and Chinese whipping games.
Chinese New Year is the most exciting time to be in China. A two hour plane ride will get you to Beijing for festivals and fabulous food and a two hour train ride will take you to the famous Snow and Ice Festival in Harbin. Castle ice sculptures that you can walk through and Russian cuisine is a great combination. I spent three days in Harbin and it was a breath of fresh icy air! "
From an Australian teacher in Northern China
Language: Standard Chinese
Population: 1.3 billion
China is the most populous nation on Earth, with around 1.3 billion people and with a fascinating history spanning 4000 years. China has emerged from decades of solitude to become a world leader and economic powerhouse making it a very exciting place to be right now.
China is located on the eastern side of the Asia continent and on the west coast of the Pacific Ocean. Many countries share a border with China; including Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, India, Nepal, Laos and Vietnam - it is a great place to base yourself for a wide range of travel opportunities.
Because it is such a large country, you can find hot summers in the south, snowy winters in the north and everything in between.
There are beaches, caves, hiking opportunities, boat cruises, the Silk Road, the Great Wall of China, tombs, Buddhist monuments, take part in one of the many fantastic festivals held throughout the country, or even visit the cute Panda, well known in China.
Eating and Drinking
With one of the greatest world cuisines China will not disappoint when eating out. Once you've got to grips with ordering you can eat to whatever budget and experience a far wider range of tastes than is generally represented on the international scene for this country.
China has many important long-haul international gateways such as; Beijing, Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai, though many other Chinese cities are served by international flights, operated mainly by airlines based in East Asia. Overland routes into China are also well established, including road and rail links from its Southeast Asian neighbours, not to mention the Trans-Siberian train from Moscow.
The currency in China is the Renminbi or RMB.