Travel Blogger. ESL Teacher. Optimistic Millennial Adventurer!
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So, you’re considering teaching English abroad. You’ve thought about moving to popular regions in South Asia like South Korea, Thailand and Japan, but you’re not sure about which is the best place for you. And low and behold, you’ve skipped over one of the most exciting major players in the region: What about becoming an ESL teacher in China?
Yep, China. Third largest country in the world. Population of 1.3 billion. Second largest economy just after the US. Allow me to breakdown the top 10 reasons why you should teach English in China:
Rich Culture, History & Traditions
As one of the world's oldest civilizations—over 5,000 years—China is a country brimming with rich history, culture, and traditions. As an expat, you'll have untamed access to the treasure trove of museums, landmarks, tourist sites, and people that can provide comprehensive coverage of the major events, ideologies, inventions, stories and figures in China's long history.
Learn about the development of Confucianism, for example, and the 4 great inventions: paper, the compass, gunpowder, and printing. Or how about the rise of Emperor Qin, China's first emperor, the Cultural Revolution, or the founding of the Communist Party of China?
Furthermore, today, many remnants of China's past are still heavily intertwined into people's daily lives. Take a stroll down a major city's vibrant downtown commercial business area, for instance, and you might just stumble upon a larger than life temple or pagoda. Head to any public space in the evening 7 days a week and you'll encounter elderly citizens practicing Tai chi or up to 50+ people taking part in square dancing. Experience a Chinese wedding, party until the wee hours of the morning at a KTV, or discover popular Chinese home remedies for the common cold. There's just so much rich history, culture, and traditions to uncover in China!
Cheap Cost of Living
Fortunately, the cost of living is relatively low in China. Food, housing, transportation—as an English teacher in China, you'll most likely save a good chunk of your paycheck in regards to these categories; well, all things depending on your location and spending habits of course. What's more, it'll give you plenty of incentive to travel around China and explore neighboring countries. Isn't that what teaching English abroad is all about?
You know the Great Wall. You've seen pictures of Shanghai. And maybe, just maybe, you've heard about Xiaolin Temple (Shaolin Temple). But what else is there? As an expat in China of nearly 6 years, I'll be the first to tell you that China is equipped with a wide range of attractions and popular tourist destinations at every turn.
You've got famous historical attractions such as the Forbidden City in Beijing, Terracotta Warriors of Xi'an, and the Potal Palace of Tibet. There are scenic natural wonders like Li River and the karsts hill ranges of Guilin and Yangshuo, along with Huangshan "Yellow" Mountain, the Rainbow Mountains of Zhangye, Yangtze River, the Mongolian grasslands, and the beautiful beaches of Sanya.
Additionally, major cities such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Chongqing and Chengdu are all well equipped with bustling central business districts just overflowing with modern skyscrapers, landmark towers, and beautiful high-rise apartments that are guaranteed to leave you breathless.
One of the best perks of teaching English in China is making friends with people from all kinds of regions around the world. I've met and made friends with teachers, and non-teachers, from places like New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, Ghana, South Africa, U.K., Scotland, Singapore, Ukraine, and of course, many cities across China. With that, cultural exchange won't just take place at the local level with your Chinese counterparts, but you'll also have the opportunity to gain a worldly insight from your collection of international friends and acquaintances. Even better, you may get invited to visit them in their home countries!
There is a massive market for English teachers in China’s thriving ESL industry, and because of that, you're pretty much guaranteed to always have a job. Training centers, public schools, private schools, and international schools hire all year round, and you can even find part-time work as an English tutor to rake in a few extra bucks. Furthermore, popular job websites in China such as Echinacities post new ESL job listings everyday, and you can even use ESL agents—free of charge, mind you—to help locate the best jobs available according to your preferences. Talk about job security!
China is a pretty safe country. Guns are prohibited, drugs are banned, and people are generally non-violent, especially with foreigners. That isn’t to say that it’s perfect, though—there are a number of widespread crimes such as scams, theft, and prostitution that are all too common in every city. However, as for day-to-day activities and travel, China is a decent place that can provide an overall great sense of wellbeing when it comes to safety.
Food, food, food! Ask any expat in China and they'll undoubtedly list food as one of the top reasons they love the country. Chinese cuisine is remarkably unique, culturally diverse, nutritious, and full of rich spices, seasonings, and herbs that help produce a variety of colors, aromas, and tastes that'll leave you wanting more. From street barbecue to hotpot, dumplings to fried noodles, seafood to roasted duck; there are just so many great dishes to try!
China has undergone a tremendous transformation over the past 20 years. Today, the world’s second largest economy has even staked its place as a leader on the global stage. With that, teaching English in China, and just living abroad in China period, will look pretty impressive on your resume. Even better, upgrade your language skills by learning Mandarin, serve as a manager, and/or start a business in the country, and you’ve got a nice recipe for a valuable candidate in the international marketplace. What’s more, on the business end, China is a great place for networking, especially in fields of finance, trade, and manufacturing. Opportunity awaits!
China is a pretty convenient place to live in as an ESL teacher. In regards to transportation, for example, you can find cheap fares for buses, taxis, public bicycles, and in most major cities, for subways. Need to travel to some region far away; no problem, China boasts the world's largest high-speed railway network. WeChat, a popular social mobile app, and Alipay are very popular methods for making payment transactions and transfers of money, and it can all from your phone and without cash. Hate using taxis or waiting on buses but don't want to spend money on a car? Well, buy an electric scooter for between $300-400. And lastly, in China, tipping isn't even required. Woo-hoo!
Talk to most ESL teachers in China that have taught more than 3 years and I guarantee you that the thought of starting their own business teaching English has crossed their mind. Likewise, talk to any expat that's lived in China that long and I'm certain they'd share with you big plans of becoming an entrepreneur. Yep, that's what China does to you. It's the land of entrepreneurs and hustlers both big and small, with plenty of expansive markets that any and everyone with a competitive spirit is trying to get a hold on. It'll naturally rub off on you, and if you play your cards right, you may find yourself running your very own venture somewhere down the line.
And there you have it folks! So, what do you think of my list? Are you an expat or ESL instructor in China and have any suggestions for prospective teachers? Well, let the world know in the comments. Safe & happy travels!
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