Another long-time favorite destination for aspiring TEFL teachers is China. The good news is you can still teach in China. And with a huge diversity of lifestyles and work contracts on offer in this vast country, it’s not hard to see why.
While China’s borders are largely closed to foreign visitors, they are open to travelers entering the country on a C visa–which is the visa used by English teachers. You will be able to organize the visa with your us (CYI) before you arrive in China, and when you arrive, you will have to quarantine for 14 days as a safety precaution. Not to worry though, we will go with you every step of the way
You’ll also need to check your flight routes – direct flights from some countries (such as the UK) are currently not available but you can fly from another destination, making use of the transit. In China, Covid restrictions can vary from place to place. For example, all Shanghai and Zhejiang areas are currently considered low risk, but some restrictions are in place, regarding green code and negative test – all this CYI will help you navigate through and guide.
Overall, the CDC currently rates the Covid travel risk in China as low.
Follow these steps before you go.
Before you make any plans to teach abroad, make sure you:
Check the latest travel advice from your country.
Make sure you check for the most up-to-date travel information before making travel plans.
Follow the rules.
Many countries have different rules for overseas travelers to follow in light of the health crisis.
These may include quarantines and taking tests before and after you travel. Keep yourself and others safe by following the rules for the country you are traveling to.
Name games are a really good way to start a lesson, they are especially helpful at the start of the year to help you remember the names of all your new students! Go round the circle and have the children say their name and one of their favourite things. When the next child introduces themselves, they must first introduce the child that went before them and so on until the last child remembers the names and favourite things of everyone in the group! This can be made harder for older students by having a rule that their favourite thing must begin with the same letter as their first name.
This is a game that I’ve found to be popular with children of all ages! I’ve used an envelope full of cut out words or a set of picture flashcards for younger students to play this. Secretly show a student a word or flashcard and then have them silently act it out while the other children call out – in English – what they think the secret word is. The children get super competitive over this and the mimes can be hilarious! Charades can also be adapted to learn almost any vocabulary – animals, sports, hobbies, emotions – so it is endlessly useful!
Similar to charades, but you draw the secret word instead of acting it out. I’ve found that children love being given to chance to use a marker and whiteboard – and to show off their artistic skills.
4. Stand up if you…
This game works best with a larger group and you need to have an open space to play in. Get all the children to form a large circle with you standing in the middle. You should then call out a sentence such as ‘stand up if you’re wearing shorts’ and everyone wearing shorts must switch places with each other in the circle while you try and steal one of their spots. The child left in the middle then gets to call out the next question. This game can be easily adapted to suit the vocabulary the class is learning such as appearance, clothing, likes/dislikes, family members, holidays – it’s amazing!
5. Guess the flashcard
This game is very simple but very effective. While holding a hidden set of flashcards in your hands, slowly reveal them one at a time while the students guess what it is. The child who guesses correctly gets to keep the flashcards – something they absolutely love – and the child with the most flashcards at the end is the winner!
This is another flashcard game which works best with small groups. Place all the flashcards on the floor and have the children gather around them. Then call out the name of the flashcard and have the children ‘slam’ their hands onto the correct card. The child whose hand is at the bottom of the pile – and is, therefore, the fastest – wins! Get them to keep their hands on their heads until you call out a word so they don’t hover over the pictures!
For this game, you need to have two sets of matching flashcards or a set of pictures and corresponding words. Simply place all the cards face down on the floor and have the children take turns picking two cards until they match a pair. Children love this game and I’ve found it engages even the most easily distracted students. Again, it can be adapted to teach lots of different vocabulary – this week I used this game to teach Halloween words and it worked really well!
To play this you need a Bingo grid with pictures, words, or desired vocabulary (there are lots you can print for free on the internet) or you can make your own! Give each child a grid to mark off as you call out words – the first to get a row or to complete their grid is the winner. Make sure you check the winner’s grid to ensure they have matched the words correctly! This can be made harder by giving the children clues to the correct picture rather than the word itself.
This game is great as it allows students to practice forming questions in English as well as revising their target vocabulary. Have a student think of a secret word while the other students take it in turns to ask questions and guess what they’re thinking. You can give them subject-specific vocabulary or you can let them use their imaginations!
10. Find the color
This game is a fantastic way to teach colors and is extremely popular with younger students. The rules are pretty simple, gather all the students together and call out ‘find something….’ The children then have to run around the classroom and touch something that’s the same color. This is a great way to get the children moving, active and engaged. Plus, it can be pretty funny when they find the color on you!
Vietnam vs. China, which country to teach ESL? Vietnam is becoming a more common choice for teaching English abroad. That’s because the country is experiencing a growth spurt and investing in its youth. Like China, it wants to hold a global position.
But which country is better for teaching English…China or Vietnam?
Vietnam vs. China: Teaching in Vietnam
In Vietnam, there are many adventures to have both in and out of the country. You’ll be close to Laos and Cambodia too which are always worth a visit. Then again, from China, you can access flights to an Asian city with ease. The cost of living in Vietnam is low but then again, so is the earning potential. On average, you can expect to earn $800 to $1,700 per month.
Most of the teaching jobs are available in the bigger cities, so you’ll have to go there to score the positions you want. You can always visit the smaller cities in your spare time. You get about 4 weeks off per year to enjoy the country. You’ll have to be a native English speaker with a bachelor’s degree, and you should have TEFL/TESL qualifications for some of the opportunities you’ll see.
Vietnam vs. China: Teaching in China
One of the biggest differences with teaching in China over Vietnam is the difference in pay. You’ll earn more money and enjoy a lower cost of living with it. While Vietnam has a low cost of living, you won’t exactly be making gobs of money there.
On top of that, while Vietnam is gaining more traction for English teaching opportunities, China has a well-established system for this and often employs teaching assistants to help you. Students in this day and age have been drilled by their parents to achieve the best heights for better jobs and opportunities when they are older. There is a huge drive to compete here.
Chinese holidays certainly give you more free time to explore, the only downside being that everyone else has those days off too. That means monuments and landmarks are crowded. But much of Asia is likely more crowded than you are used to back home, even if you hail from a large city yourself.
Our Recommendation Goes to: China!
Ultimately, both China and Vietnam have great opportunities for teaching though China gives teachers even more. The reason is because with Mandarin becoming so popular, it hands you a free opportunity to learn the language as you teach English to those in China. Mandarin is rising up as quickly as Spanish for most popular languages to study and you can get the chance to bring that with you to any career you choose down the road.
Choose teaching in China and you won’t be disappointed for all the experiences you’ll enjoy, the salary, the learning opportunities, and the chance to explore some of the world’s most renowned sites!
It’s been a long couple of months waiting to return back to China. Now, I’ve finally made it safely back. I know you’re probably wondering how did I do it. In this article, I’ll explain the steps that I took, what to avoid, and any recommendations to ensure the process goes smoothly without a hitch. But, first join the Facebook group called Foreigners Stuck Outside of China for daily updates and a great support group as there are many of us trying to safely return to the country we call home. Without this group, I would have been lost or confused in understanding the procedure.
Before I explain the steps I’d like to explain how I ended up being stuck outside of China: the place that I’ve called home for the last 2 years. So due to the rapid spread of Covid-19 globally, the Chinese government decided to suspend the entry of foreigners who hold Visas and Resident permits effective from March 28th 2020. In order to obtain a visa now, you must apply for a PU letter.
Step 1: Apply for a PU letter
What is a PU letter? A PU letter is an invitation letter issued by the Foreign Affairs office or also known as the Commission of Commerce. This letter is very important because it allows you to then apply for a Work Visa. My new job applied for a PU letter on July 16th and it took about 2 to 3 weeks to receive it.
Step 2: Begin looking at airline tickets online
The reason why I began to look at airline tickets right after receiving the PU letter was because I heard that tickets were super high in price, like $5,000 dollars. Also, there were very few flights traveling internationally back to China. As you can see when you search online there are many flights that show that they fly to China but in reality they don’t so you must be very careful when you book. The best advice I can give you is to try to book with a Chinese airline as there is a higher chance that the flight will not be cancelled. I booked two flights and unfortunately both flights were cancelled and therefore I finally booked a flight via Air China for £1700 which allowed me to come back in time. The other issue with booking flights that will most likely be canceled is that it takes months to receive a refund, so please keep that in mind. I booked my flight in advance so that I had enough time to follow the other important steps to help me to get back to China.
I applied for the visa application online. I applied for the F Visa which is a non-commercial visa. You’ll need the following documents in order to process the application:
– a recent colored passport photo with a white background – a passport that is valid for at least 6 months with blank pages available – print out the completed online visa application form. – my new school provided an invitation letter to explain the purpose of the visit
Once I submitted these documents, I was then allowed to choose an appointment for when I can visit the Visa facility in London. I attended the Visa appointment at 12pm on August 20th and was there for about 3 or 4 hours so please make sure you have enough time as it can get super busy. They took all of the documents including my passport and told me to come back in 7 days. I paid £151 for a single entry visa. It was pretty straightforward as long as you have all of the proper documents that are required. Also, make sure you attend your visa appointment at least 30 minutes earlier as the lines can get long. On August 27th, I went to the Visa office and received my Visa.
I immediately made an appointment online through the NHS British website to arrange for my nucleic acid test to ensure that I do not have COVID-19 and I’m safe to travel. I attended the testing location at 10:30 a.m and it took less than 10 minutes. It was not as scary as I imagined it to be and the people were very helpful and patient with the process. I was able to do the self test with the instructions from the person who worked there. I had to do the nasal and the oral test, then insert in a bag and drop in a box. It took less than 24 hours, so by Saturday morning I had received the results by 9:30 a.m.
Then I forwarded the nucleic acid test results from the email, a copy of my photo page in my passport, and the Health Declaration Form filled out to the Chinese Embassy via email for authorization and it was sent back within 5 hours.
Finally, I was all ready for my trip back to the country I call home, China!
How are ESL teachers expected to dress in China? In this post, we look at the typical expectations schools have for their teachers, and what you need to think about as a foreign teacher working in China.
What to Know about Clothing as an ESL Teacher in China
The teaching profession in China is perceived as one with a high level of respect and dignity. A teacher (in Chinese, 老师 or Lǎoshī), is viewed by parents, students, administrators, and the society at large as someone who is professional and responsible. So, ESL teachers should dress according to these expectations.
That said, every school will establish its own dress code for teachers, based not solely on culture, but also on other aspects.
ESL Teachers Can Dress Casually (mostly)
China has a variety of schools where foreign ESL teachers are employed. These include:
Colleges or universities
If you are a teacher who prefers to dress more casually, you’re in luck. Generally speaking, the dress code at most schools will be casual to business casual. Still, there are some caveats to note.
In most situations, it’s best to wear a collared and non-sleeveless top. Some schools provide their teachers with polo shirts displaying their school logo. If you work for a school that does, you will likely be expected to wear it to work.
Be mindful of images and messages that are printed on your clothes. This is especially important when it comes to politics, religion, profanity, and sex. While the messages may be acceptable in your own country, it’s wise to be respectful of Chinese culture and norms. Besides showing respect, you also want your students, parents, and school administrators to respect you, too.
When thinking about what to wear, also think about your comfort. As a teacher, you will likely be animated. You want to wear clothing that allows you to move around comfortably. You’ll be on your feet a lot when you are teaching, so wear shoes that are both comfortable and sensible for the season (for example, lighter shoes in the summer, boots in the winter). Avoid wearing flip flops or sandals to class.
There are times when teachers will be required to dress more formally, such as business luncheons or ceremonial functions. It’s a smart idea to have some formal attire handy for such occasions.
Teachers working with adult learners, particularly business professionals, will need to dress more smartly. A dress shirt and trousers for men, and a blouse and skirt, dress, or suit for women, are acceptable. These teachers typically work for training centers that cater to corporate clientele.
Think about China’s Seasons and Climates
Depending on the region, China can be very hot in the summer and very cold in the winter. As well, many homes, schools, and other buildings lack air conditioning and heating to regulate indoor temperatures during summer and winter months. Thus, it’s not uncommon to see people wearing light clothing in the summer, and winter jackets indoors during the winter.
Make sure you have some light clothing for the summer months. For winter, you’ll need a good winter jacket, warm sweaters, and possibly some long johns or thermal pants for northern China where it can get very cold.
You will also need a light jacket for the autumn and spring months, when temperatures are typically mild, and sometimes the weather can be rainy.
Other Things to Consider
Your hair should be well-groomed and at an appropriate length. You can dye your hair but be careful not to be too outrageous with your color choices.
Excessive facial hair is usually considered unacceptable. It’s best to be clean shaven, but if you do prefer to have facial hair, make sure it is well-groomed and trimmed.
Until recently, tattoos were taboo in China. Attitudes about tattoos have been gradually changing. Tattoos tend to be less of a concern in urban centers where people are more accustomed to seeing them. As you move out of urban areas, people tend to be more conservative, and tattoos still perceived negatively. Facial and neck tattoos will not be acceptable, and you may need to cover any tattoos on your arms. Visible tattoos on teachers at school are generally unacceptable, and some schools may let you know that.
If you have tattoos that cannot be covered, inform the school where you’ll be working, so there are no disappointments when you arrive in China.
China is still conservative in many respects, and when it comes to jewelry on men, this is still the case. It’s almost certainly going to be the case that schools prefer men not to wear any earrings or piercings. It might indeed be a school policy to disallow it.
Excessive jewelry and piercings are not appropriate for female teachers. To be safe, stick to modest jewelry.
Head coverings such as hats should not be worn in the classroom. If you have religious needs to have a head covering, it is best to clarify this with the school where you will be teaching beforehand.
If you are living and working in a Tier 1 city such as Beijing or Shanghai, you’ll be able to find most sizes of clothing in China. However, it may be harder to find extra-large sized clothing or footwear. If you wear extra-large sized clothing or footwear, it’s best to carry some with you to China, in case you find it difficult to find these once you are there.
Dress a Little Better than You’re Expected
Though Chinese schools are fairly easygoing about how their foreign teachers are dressed, don’t make the mistake of thinking that the school, your students, and parents aren’t forming an impression of you based on your appearance. In cultures like Chinese, many things are left unsaid, so don’t assume that no news is good news. It’s always best to keep yourself looking clean, well-groomed, and smart, even when you’re dressed casually.
China remains a popular choice for many expats to live and work. Whether as a teacher, copywriter, education consultant or any other profession, China is rife with job opportunities.
And when the COVID-19 epidemic is eventually over (it will end at some point!), China will allow expats to enter the country once again. This is your Moving to China Guide for when that time finally arrives. With everything from visas to SIM cards, cost of living to Chinese APPs, we’ve got you covered in this comprehensive guide.
Moving to China: Prior to Arrival
1. Getting a Visa
This is something every expat needs to do in order to work in China legally.
To work full-time in mainland China, you will need a Z-visa. You will need to apply for this at your nearest Chinese visa center. You should take:
Your passport along with a copy
Completed visa application form
Original authenticated criminal background check
Authenticated copy of college or university degree certificate
Documents provided by your employer in China
Be sure to check in advance if any other documents are required. Bear in mind that getting a Z-visa can be a lengthy process. Authentication is required for your criminal background check and undergraduate degree certificate (a minimum requirement for working in China). This involves sending documents to the foreign office and the Chinese consulate or embassy in your home country. This part of the process can be particularly long.
BEWARE of employers that want you to arrive in China without a work visa. Working on anything other than a Z-visa is illegal and you will bear the consequences if you are caught.
Here are a few things almost everyone will need to save for before arriving in China:
Apartment deposit; normally this is one or two months of your rent. How much you pay in rent will depend on whether you live in the city center or in the suburbs, whether you share or live by yourself and other factors.
Day to day essentials
Exactly how much you need to save depends on a number of things. Where you choose to live in China will determine how much you pay in rent and on groceries. Living in first-tier cities Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen will be very different from living elsewhere. For a comprehensive look at the cost of living in China, check out this link.
You should also consider whether anything in the above list is sponsored by your employer. Apartment deposits and plane tickets can be expensive, but many employers will offer remuneration for these expenses as part of their salary package (more on this later).
3. Learning Basic Mandarin
No moving to China guide would be complete without some survival Chinese.
Your job in China may not require you to speak Mandarin. In the case of English teachers, some employees are even told not to speak the students’ native language in order to create an English-speaking environment. Outside of the workplace however, you will almost definitely come across situations in which speaking basic Mandarin will be useful.
To get started, here are a few suggestions of things to learn:
Directions for finding your way around town and speaking to taxi drivers etc.
Ordering food and drink
Self-introduction e.g. name, nationality etc.
And whilst learning Chinese characters can be daunting, you may find places which lack signs in English. This is particularly true in smaller local restaurants. With this in mind, you may want to learn a few basic Chinese characters so you can read things like menus.
Language learning is a pretty simple equation; you get out what you put in. If you’re happy to just learn the basics, that’s fine. But if you are serious about becoming a fluent Chinese speaker, you may want to consider finding a teacher. Whilst there are Mandarin language schools in China, my experience has taught me that you can easily find a Chinese teacher through Facebook and WeChat groups, or simply through friends or colleagues. You could pay your teacher a small fee, or offer them something else in return, such as English lessons. The latter arrangement is usually referred to as a language exchange.
Prior to your arrival in China, there’s a good chance your Chinese level will be very low or non-existent (at least this was the case for me). In this case you may want to download Chinese dictionary APP Pleco as well as translation APPs such as Baidu or Google translate. Note the latter only works with a Virtual Private Network (VPN) (more on downloading one of these later).
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and many other websites and social media are blocked in mainland China. If you want to access them, you will need to log your IP address in a different location. You can do this via a VPN.
5. Unlocking your Phone for China
This may be necessary if you want to use your smartphone with a Chinese SIM card. And let’s face it, you’re going to use a Chinese SIM if you’re living in China (more on this later).
Requirements may differ slightly depending on your smartphone and or network provider. But generally speaking, you may have to get in touch with your network provider before you go to China. Or you may be able to unlock your phone with an unlock code from a specialist.
Either way, just be sure to research how you can unlock your phone before you arrive in China.
6. Packing for China
Without mentioning all the obvious things of course.
If it’s your first time moving abroad for the long-term, remember to pack for all four seasons, something I didn’t consider until my mother reminded me (I promise she didn’t do all my packing). Winter woolies as well as shorts and t-shirts. Even if you work somewhere hot and humid like Guangdong, you may fancy a winter trip to China’s northeast. A vast country with a varied climate means you should be prepared for all types of weather.
If you’re going to miss your favorite brand of coffee or chocolate or whatever, you can always take some with you (remember to check that anything you take with you meets customs regulations). In China’s first and second-tier cities, you will find plenty of imported supermarkets. Although if you need something specific, you may want to check in advance if it is available nearby where you’re going to live. Asking via local expat groups on Facebook and WeChat may be one way to do this.
Bring some passport photos (as well as your actual passport) as these will be used after arrival to apply for your residency permit. And be sure to bring original copies of your degree certificate, criminal background check as well as any other documents required for your residency and work permits.
Being old-fashioned and making a packing checklist is probably not a bad policy.
Moving to China: After Arrival
7. Getting a Chinese SIM
If you haven’t yet read the part of the Moving to China Guide about unlocking your phone, read that first.
You have a choice of three mobile operators: China Mobile/China Telecom/China Unicom. You can go to a store to sign up for a Chinese SIM. Staff may speak a little English, but to be sure you get a good deal, you may want to go with a Chinese-speaker to help you.
You will need your passport. And since December 2019, all users have been required to provide a full facial scan. If providing such sensitive biometric data troubles you, I’m afraid there’s little you can do about it if you want the convenience of using mobile data whilst in China.
Note too that Chinese SIMs will expire after a long period of non-use. Something you may want to bear in mind if you leave China for a long time before returning.
8. Looking for an Apartment
You probably won’t find your dream home, but you may be able to find a comfortable place to live during your time in China with monthly rent that won’t break the bank. Like anywhere else in the world, if you want to live by yourself in the city center, you will pay more than if you live in shared accommodation in the suburbs.
Ziroom, known as zìrú in Chinese, is by far the most convenient option for finding a place to rent. Paying rent, deposit and utility bills, as well as signing a contract can all be done through the Ziroom APP. There are a few catches however. The APP’s English-language service is limited; apartment listings are available in English but otherwise most information is in Chinese only. And to make payments, you need a Chinese bank card as payments are made through either WeChat Pay, Ali Pay, or yīwǎngtōng yínháng kǎ (a form of mobile payment compatible with numerous Chinese bank cards). It is perhaps a good option for those already settled in China and with some Chinese language skills.
Otherwise, your best option may be to get help from colleagues or friends to put you in touch with an agent. As mentioned earlier in this guide, you will need to have some savings ready to pay for a deposit. Before you sign a contract, make sure you get someone to read over the Chinese copy as this will be referred to in case of any legal disputes.
In some Chinese cities, you may be able to get a discount on your rent if you submit a rental fapiao (a kind of receipt) each month via your employer. Ask your landlord or housing agent to prepare this for you if necessary.
9. Banking in China
Because we all need to get paid.
Opening an account in a branch is not especially difficult. And any responsible employer will likely have someone take you there to give you a hand. Remember to bring your passport. The bank employees will likely check your working visa and ask about where you work.
Sending money to your bank account back home is where things can get a little more complicated. In order to do it by yourself, you will need to fill out forms which prove you have paid the necessary taxes in China. However, in my experience, sending money back home is less hassle when you let a Chinese person you trust do it for you. On two occasions, I received this advice from bank employees themselves. So make sure you make some close Chinese friends or get a Chinese partner. Your limit is 50,000 USD per year. Let’s be honest, you’ll be lucky to earn that much.
To make life a little easier, you can also link your Chinese bank card to China’s mobile payment systems, namely WeChat Pay and Ali Pay (more on these later).
10. Downloading Chinese APPs
The era of smart technology has well and truly taken China by storm. To make life that little bit easier, here are a few suggested APPs you can use whilst in China:
Without it, life in China will be very difficult. Think of WhatsApp and Facebook rolled into one. When it comes to messaging, this is what the vast majority of those in China use. The APP also has its own mobile payment system.
Owned by Ali Baba, this is the other of China’s mobile payment systems alongside WeChat Pay. Shop on online Chinese retail website Tao Bao, book a taxi, book a hotel, transfer money to friends and more.
This is mainly used for ordering takeout food although there are many other functions too. Great for getting dinner to your door on a lazy night in.
This is China’s answer to Uber. The ride-hailing APP is available in almost all big cities in mainland China. A quick, safe, and relatively inexpensive way to get from A to B.
You’ll probably come across many other APPs during your time in China. I’ve heard Dou Yin (known as Tik Tok in Western countries) is great fun although it’s never really been for me.
11. Salary and Taxes
Many expats who work in China are surprised at how much money they can save whilst living a decent lifestyle.
As with anywhere else in the world, salaries in China vary depending on what industry you work in, as well as your level of experience and qualifications. You will be expected to pay income tax in China assuming you earn above the tax threshold. Your employer should take care of this for you. As of recently, your employer should also take you to the local tax office once per year to check you are paying the right amount of tax. I did this recently in Beijing and got a nice surprise in the form of a tax rebate (whoever said the taxman couldn’t be kind?).
With this in mind, you should check with your employer before you start work how much you will earn after tax. Salaries advertised may only show the amount you earn monthly before any tax is deducted. You may also find that some employers will offer you certain benefits to help supplement your income. Flight allowances, accommodation expenses, free meals and more are commonly offered to expat employees. This can make a huge difference to your income whilst working in China.
And remember, despite working in China, you may still be required to pay tax in your home country. It is your responsibility to check you are paying the right amount and avoid any issues when you travel back home.
12. Health Insurance
A key part of any Moving to China Guide. Because you never know when an accident, injury or illness might strike.
As a minimum, your employer in China is legally obliged to provide you with Chinese social insurance, something to which you will have to contribute a small amount of your monthly salary. You will receive a social insurance card which you can use at any public hospital in China.
Otherwise, your employer may provide you with private health insurance. Check here for more information.
Regardless of whether you use Chinese social insurance or private health insurance, check with your employer that you are covered in some form. A stay in any Chinese hospital can result in eye-watering amounts of money without any form of insurance. Accidents, injury or illness can strike at any time. Don’t get caught out.
13. Cost of Living
As mentioned before, the cost of living in China varies from place to place. For cost of living in specific cities, check out this link.
Wherever you are, it is possible to live on a budget. Eat in local eateries, live in shared accommodation away from the city center, travel via public transport etc., and you’ll find yourself with a lot of cash leftover at the end of the month. Regularly eat out at fancy Western restaurants, drink in cafes, drink in bars, take taxis everywhere etc., and you’ll find yourself spending a lot of your monthly salary.
At the end of the day, how you budget is up to you. If you are intent on saving money during your time in China, you may want to do some research of the city you are moving to. Facebook and WeChat groups can be useful resources in finding good value places to eat, drink, shop and do whatever else.
14. Travelling around China
During your time in the Middle Kingdom, you may feel the urge to get out and explore. From the metropolises of Shanghai and Hong Kong, to the greenery of Yunnan and Guangxi. From the ice and snow of the northeast, to the desert of the northwest. China is a vast land with plenty of intriguing places to travel.
Getting around is surprisingly easy presuming you have your passport handy. Train and plane tickets can be booked through Trip.com. Travelling by train in China is surprisingly cheap. The high-speed rail network is particularly extensive, reaching almost all provinces within the country. Even more extensive is the older railway network, although journey times are excessively long if you’re travelling long distance.
Be aware that you will need to book tickets early during Chinese public holidays. Whether flying or taking the train, be sure to get to the airport or railway station early as collecting your tickets and getting through security can take a long time.
Remember too that you cannot leave mainland China before you receive your residency permit. If you do so, you will not be able to re-enter on the Z-visa in your passport.
When Life gets back to normal
Although it may not feel like it right now, COVID-19 will one day be a distant memory and Corona will just be something you drink in a bar.
When that time arrives, China will no doubt begin to open its borders to expats once again. And expats will be able to take advantage of the fantastic work opportunities China has to offer.
Your Moving to China Guide won’t be a silver bullet to solve all your problems, but will certainly help you settle down in the Middle Kingdom.
It’s much more than just recognizing your students’ cultural background (although that’s a good start).
Culturally responsive teaching, or cultural intelligence in education, helps create a learning environment that is engaging and accessible to a broader range of students.
As a teacher in today’s multicultural classroom, fostering culturally responsive teaching practices is becoming more and more necessary.
The Census Bureau had projected that by 2020 more than half of all students in US public schools will be minority students.
Figuring out how to meet the diverse needs of students with differing economic and cultural backgrounds, not to mention varying learning styles, has become a top priority for educators.
Teachers need to have cultural knowledge. You should try to understand achievement gaps as well as cultural and linguistic differences.
Increasing your understanding will help you resolve potential cultural differences between students in the classroom.
To become a more culturally responsive teacher you should:
Assess your own behavior.
Get to know your students.
Make your classroom a judgment-free zone.
Adapt your teaching practices.
Teach for all cultures.
1. Assess your own behavior.
It’s important to recognize that your own culture influences your attitudes.
If your students’ cultures differ from yours, you need to be sensitive to the differences in attitudes and customs to build relationships with your students.
The first step to creating a culturally responsive classroom is being aware of your actions and working to shift your mindset into culturally inclusive and open-minded ones.
This awareness also applies to your interactions with students’ families and their communities.
Being sensitive to how specific cultures process learning is a key first step towards building a positive, respectful relationship with families from diverse cultural backgrounds.
Feel like you may already be culturally competent? You can assess your cultural competence by doing this checklist.
2. Get to know your students.
Be proactive when it comes to learning about the different cultural backgrounds of the students in your classroom. Do your research, either online or by talking to your teaching colleagues.
As a teacher, you cannot create a culturally responsive classroom if you don’t take the time to get to know your students as individuals.
Establishing set times to sit down with a student can give them a chance to speak about themselves in a more personal setting. Some students may not feel comfortable talking about their life outside of school with the whole class listening.
Be sure to show a genuine interest in each student’s understanding of content and their general well-being. Creating a culturally responsive classroom is all about creating an environment in which students of all cultures feel comfortable and ready to learn.
If there is a student in your class who has recently immigrated from another country, for example, sit down with them to ask if there were any activities or traditions they enjoyed at school in their home country. This will not only help put your new student at ease, it can also breathe life into your lesson activities.
3. Make your classroom a judgment-free zone.
Students must be able to look at situations regarding culture with an unbiased opinion and be comfortable asking questions to further their understanding.
If a conversation arises about a current event or behavior, welcome a discussion. But be sure the conversation is directed towards learning, not criticizing.
Encourage students to ask questions and challenge the status quo. Make critical thinking the norm and teach your students to value each other’s differences.
It’s common for many students to too shy to speak up.
Encouraging them to voice their opinions and questions about what is happening in the world around them is one of the best ways to help them understand and overcome some of their preconceived notions.
4. Adapt your teaching.
Culturally responsive teaching is a student-focused approach.
It identifies the differences between students and the unique strengths of each child to encourage their academic achievement and a sense of belonging in the classroom.
There are some important questions you should ask yourself, including the following:
Are there any activities in your classroom that don’t benefit all students?
What activities seem to engage all students and get them participating?
What actions have you noticed seem to get the best reactions out of your students?
It’s important to honestly assess your current teaching practices and modify your instruction and curriculum to consider all students’ backgrounds and readiness levels.
Research has shown that students are more engaged in learning and learn more effectively when the knowledge and skills taught are presented within the context of their own experiences and cultural frames of reference.
As a result, it’s critical to learn how to adapt your teaching strategies and techniques to students of all cultural backgrounds in your classroom.
Incorporating learning strategies that have a sense of familiarity for international students, for example, can not only help them better connect to the classroom environment, but feel more comfortable sharing their own experiences with classmates.
Make learning as interactive as possible.
Educational games are fun for students; they also require active listening and a higher chance for memory retention.
Puzzle-solving, making connections, storytelling or visuals and repetition are all tools that can be used in the classroom and are commonly seen across cultures.
5. Teach for all cultures.
Choose content that reflects the different cultures of your students in your lessons.
Lessons should incorporate multicultural information and approaches whenever possible.
Suppose a teacher only references people from a specific cultural background or ethnicity exclusively in-class examples. In that case, students may feel that their cultural background is being excluded and may feel disengaged.
Teachers at home and especially teachers abroad need to make cultural competence a priority.
Become a more culturally responsive teacher today!
Now more than ever, teachers should be looking to make their classrooms and school community space where students of all cultures feel supported to learn and succeed.
Try to remember to be mindful of the following tips so you can be a more inclusive, culturally responsive teacher:
Assess your own behavior.
Get to know your students.
Make your classroom a judgment-free zone.
Adapt your teaching practices.
Teach for all cultures.
By embracing culturally responsive teaching principles, your classroom can, over time, become a more positive learning environment for all of your students – it all starts with you.
You’ve seen the acronym advertising ESL Jobs, and you’ve done a bit of research. For the curious, ESL stands for English as a Second Language. The Brits know it as TEFL, Teaching English as a Foreign Language. But what will you get out of an ESL job? The simple answer is a lot, but here are the skills that you can develop or use in an ESL career.
1. Problem Solving
Imagine, you’ve planned a class, you know the students and everything is going to be great. During the class, no one’s getting it. The enthusiastic students are tired and everyone’s getting restless. As the teacher, everyone looks to you and you need to rescue the class. You develop an instinct in the class- you think fast and try new things. If that doesn’t work, you keep your cool and find something that works. This is a skill seen time and time again in the classroom, and the ability to stay cool under pressure and think quickly remain invaluable.
2. Communication Skills
Listed time and time again on job descriptions: the applicant must have excellent communication skills. But what does that even mean? The term “communication skills” could be open to interpretation and difficult to prove that you have. But as an ESL teacher, this is a core skill. Imagine setting a task, or giving instructions to classes from 5 to 25, and there’s a catch. English isn’t their first language. Sound difficult? It is at first, but in time the ESL teacher becomes a master at setting tasks, getting results with minimum speech, and body language.
3. Public Speaking
Public speaking is a common fear. The thought of standing up in front of a group of strangers can be a terrifying experience. New ESL teachers also find this a test of nerve. But over time, the ESL teacher overcomes this fear. Standing up in front of a group of eager eyes becomes second nature.
4. Time Management
ESL schedules can be hectic, especially during summer courses and peak months. Time management in class is a skill that teachers develop. ESL teachers learn to focus on what’s important to the learner, moving through the teaching material to meet their needs.
5. Sales Skills
Good sales people are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and passionate. They tailor the product to your needs and at the end of the sales pitch, you’re sold, you want the product! Who was your favourite teacher at school? They were knowledgeable, passionate and at the end of the class you wanted to learn more. The similarities are close. A good teacher helps the student use the language (the product). The teacher’s enthusiasm also makes the student more enthusiastic about the language. After class, these students want to learn more by themselves. This is when the real learning starts.
On July 21, 2020, in order to strengthen the management of foreign teachers, the Ministry of Education, together with the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, formulated the Measures for the Appointment and Management of Foreign Teachers (Draft for Comments) to solicit public opinions, and below is the major content.
Basic Requirements for Foreign Teachers
Foreign personnel should meet the following requirements before they can be employed as foreign teachers by various educational institutions at all levels.
Bachelor degree or above;
As a subject professional (including foreign language literature) teachers must have more than two years of teaching or working experience in related disciplines;
As a teacher of foreign language training, he/she must have been trained in language teaching, and obtain the language training qualification, and generally be engaged in his/her mother tongue teaching;
And for those who teach relevant courses in Chinese, their mandarin level should reach class 3B or above, or pass the HSK proficiency test to obtain the corresponding grade certificate.
Who Will Be Banned from Employment
Under any of the following circumstances, foreign personnel shall not be employed by any educational institution.
Words and deeds that damage China’s national sovereignty, security, honor and social and public interests;
Being investigated for criminal responsibility;
Hindering the implementation of the educational policy;
Having committed acts of sexual assault or maltreatment of minors;
Illegally engaging in religious education or missionary work;
Engaged in cult activities;
Sexual harassment of students or other serious violations of teachers’ professional ethics;
Providing false certification information in the process of applying for teaching in China;
Having three records of breach of trust.
Part-Time Job Allowed for Full-Time Teachers
During a period of employment, foreign teachers can only sign a contract with one educational institution. The contents of the contract shall include the work tasks, the working place, the responsibilities of the position, the term of appointment, rights and obligations of both parties, the assessment methods, the dispute settlement mechanism and liability for breach of contract.
It is worth noting that, with the agreement of the employing institution, foreign teachers can reasonably work part-time in other educational institutions. But the accumulated part-time teaching time shall not exceed the teaching time in the employing institution.
Filing and Sharing of Teachers’ Information
For educational institutions, a material copy or electronic material of the employed teachers shall be uploaded to the national comprehensive information service platform for foreign teachers, and the service platform shall generate the record number of foreign teachers, one number for each foreign teacher.
Note: The national comprehensive information service platform for foreign teachers only allows the registration of educational administrative departments and educational institutions.
For government departments, information sharing mechanisms for foreign teachers should be established, including lists of foreign teachers who have been granted work permits to work in China and those who are prohibited from employment.
Three Ways to Make Suggestions
Here are three ways to give advice about the draft, from July 21 to August 21, 2020.
Log into the official website of Ministry of Justice of the People’s Republic of China（www.moj.gov.cn/www.chinalaw.gov.cn）, and click the legislative opinions collection (立法意见征集) in the home page;
China is one of the countries that need English teachers the most, and while the chances are high for qualified candidates to be be accepted for any of the open positions, you will still want to be fully prepared for the interview that you will need to do.
After all, a successful interview is the best starting point of any careers including teaching English overseas!
Here are some helpful tips to prepare for a successful ESL job interview when applying to teach English in China:
Many of these interviews are held via Skype or WeChat, which means that there is an excellent chance that you will be seen by those who are interviewing you.
Therefore, one of the first things that you will need to do in preparation for your interview is to find something suitable and professional to wear. This is not the time to simply roll out of bed and show up in front of your computer in your pajamas!
Confidence is the key
As you are speaking to your interviewers, you will want to converse in a clear and confident voice. Even if you are normally a quiet person, now is not the time to allow that to shine through.
You can start out by introducing yourself and giving them a little background on your education. These are both easy things to do and should help you find your voice and calm your nerves a little. After that, you can continue with your interests, hobbies, and past experiences.
Showing Your Interests (do your research!)
When you are going through your interview, you are going to want to make sure that the people who are asking the questions know that you are completely interested in the position that they have available. To do this, you should do a little research prior to your interview.
Student age, Curriculum & School events
A few things that you can find out in advance include the ages of the students, the curriculum that the school uses, how many locations the school has, and what types of extracurricular activities are available.
It is also recommended that you find attractions and destinations around the city or nearby the school, as it shows that you are interested in both the job and the area that you will be living in.
You may also want to research the cost of living in the area and be aware of how your paycheck will cover your expenses. Of course, you may also want to find out what other benefits you can get besides your salary packages, such as housing, flight allowances, as well as support such as training and local assistance. These all together, can affect your final decision.
Once you know all this information, you can plan for different scenarios that you may be presented during the interview. You may not know the answers to these scenarios without having done the research first, but you will after you do some additional research as to how to work best with the students.
Make sure you have the right apps downloaded
Technology always works when you don’t need it to, but it can be a little off when you need it the most. Prior to your interview, you should install the app that you will be using. This may be Skype, WeChat, or any other app that the school you are applying at uses.
Familiarize yourself with the app
Once you have it installed, you will want to make sure that you have created a log in to use for your interview. It is also a good idea to familiarize yourself with the app and maybe even test it out, so that you know you are ready when it is time for your appointment.
Make sure the internet connection is strong
You will need a strong internet connection for your interview, so that there is no lag in the conversation or frozen screens. This is not the time to have everyone else in your home using bandwidth, so you may want to tell everyone that they need to stay offline while you are in your interview.
It is a good idea to check your internet connection when you are testing the app, as it will give you time to make necessary adjustments.
Obviously, you should do both of those things at least a day or two before your interview and not a few minutes before it starts. Remember, technology can be very finicky!
Find a quiet place
A quiet place is another necessity for your interview and you will want to determine where that location is sooner than later. This will allow you to ensure that it truly is quiet during the time that you will need it.
You may want to consider a space where the windows and door can be closed, so that outside interruptions are at a minimum.
You should also keep all ringing phones out of the space, so an unexpected phone call does not interrupt the flow of your interview. This includes your cell phone, but if you think that you may need it for something, at least turn the ringer off before proceedings.
These three tips are full of information that will help you prepare for a successful interview. A brief recap:
1. Presenting Yourself
Confidence is the key
Introduce who you are and education background
2. Showing Your Interests (do your research!)
Cost of living
3. Technical Aspects
Make sure you have the right apps downloaded (depending on the school, the interview might be conducted via Skype or WeChat)
Familiarize yourself with the app
Make sure the internet connection is strong
Find a quiet place
Please consider them carefully, so that you can proceed to the next step, which will be flying over to China to teach your first class of students.
Hong Kong and Singapore airports will lift their bans on transit passengers from the start of June as part of the easing of coronavirus restrictions which have stunted the economy and decimated air travel.
The moves will be especially welcomed by Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines, which rely on their respective home airports as transfer hubs for connecting flights more than destinations in their own right.
Hong Kong Airport to lift transit bans from June 1
“The epidemic has eased,” she said. “We are resuming daily activities in society and economy step by step.”
Hong Kong implemented a ban on all visitors to the city, and passengers in transit through Hong Kong International Airport, on March 24.
All arrivals at the airport are currently required to go to the nearby AsiaWorld Expo site for COVID-19 testing, before proceeding to their home for the mandatory 14 day quarantine period.
There’s been no advice as to if this practice will continue, nor what restrictions might be imposed on passengers in transit at the airport itself, although wearing masks may be required.
Cathay Pacific, which has been hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, has since April operated to “a skeleton schedule” of barely a dozen destinations served by just a handful of flights per week.
However, the airline plans aim to put a little flesh onto those bones with a slow but steady rebuild of its international network beginning June 21.
This will see Sydney, London Heathrow, Los Angeles and Vancouver boosted to five flights per week. Melbourne is set for three flights per week, along with Amsterdam, Frankfurt, San Francisco, Mumbai and Delhi.
Cathay will also mount daily flights to Singapore, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Taipei, Manila, Bangkok, Jakarta and Ho Chi Minh City, while its Asia-focussed Cathay Dragon arm is set for daily service to Beijing, Shanghai and Kuala Lumpur.
Singapore Changi Airport to lift transit bans from June 2
Travellers will once again be allowed to transit through Singapore’s Changi Airport from June 2, although in the short term, Singapore stopovers will be very different to what travellers are accustomed to.
Instead of browsing the duty-free shops or kicking back in the airline lounge , transit passengers will “remain in designated facilities in the transit area and not mix with other passengers whilst at Changi Airport,” said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore in announcing the relaxed restrictions overnight.
Airport staff will wear personal protective equipment when interacting with passengers, while existing precautionary measures, such as safe distancing and temperature checks for passengers and staff, will remain in place.
Singapore’s ban on transit passengers came into effect from Tuesday March 24, accompanied by a ban on short-term visitors to the island nation, after it recorded its first two deaths from Covid-19 complications.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) has had a huge impact in a very short space of time on the online English language teaching (ELT) industry in China. With hundreds of thousands of students effectively unable to leave their homes, schools, brick-and-mortar language schools and existing online teaching companies rushed to get as many of them learning online as possible. As with everything in China, the change from classroom-based teaching to online learning was incredibly fast, and while many people are now back at work, many schools have still not reopened. Primary and secondary schools started online classes in Shanghai as of March 2. Classes are delivered either via cable TV channels or through platforms like Ding Talk, a popular chat and video conferencing app (think a mix of WhatsApp and Zoom). Indeed, Ding Talk reports that more than 700,000 students in Wuhan alone are taking classes on the platform.
The market was difficult even before the outbreak, with competition from the new online language schools. This put a real strain on brick and mortar schools that were teaching offline. It was only in October of 2019 when Webi (Web International English), a large chain, went out of business leaving staff unpaid and students without reimbursement.
With the coronavirus, many language schools across China faced a huge problem. In an already challenging market, they were unable to operate. Faced with no income and potentially still liable for their ongoing costs such as rental and staff salaries, they have experienced heavy losses in what is traditionally a strong sales period after the Chinese New Year.
Moreover larger online providers like TAL have been looking to capitalise on the situation by partnering with over 300 public schools across China and others offering free or discounted classes.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE OUTBREAK IS FINALLY OVER?
While primary and secondary schools may return to school as normal, the situation could be very different for smaller language schools. Students may return and some may survive with a big hit to their annual income.
But while students may return in the short term to take classes they had already paid for, now that they have experienced online classes, which they may not have done before, will they continue to enrol in courses, or will they switch to online providers?
In the online training webinars I have run there is a clear fear among language schools that they have to adapt quickly to online teaching, not just during the coronavirus, but for the foreseeable future.
THE ATTRACTION OF ONLINE ENGLISH CLASSES
Online English classes are not a new phenomenon in China. EF, Education First, a big player in the Chinese market, has been running online classes as part of a blended/hybrid model (where students do some classes face to face and additional classes online) since the early 2000s.
The proposition is simple. As a student or parent, a decade ago, you had to enrol at your local language school, hope they provide a good teacher and spend a significant proportion of your income. Now you can enrol your child at an online school, pick and choose the teacher and not have to sit and wait in the lounge for the class to finish after work or on the weekend. If you are not happy with the school, you can simply switch to another provider.
CAN BRICK-AND-MORTAR LANGUAGE SCHOOLS SURVIVE?
Given this potentially accelerated competition from online, many schools are asking more than ever ‘what they can do to compete with purely online schools?’ A common strategy seems to be to try to move to a blended/hybrid model, the strategy that Education First has been using for several years.
There are challenges in doing this. Not only do brick-and-mortar schools need to differentiate from online schools somehow, the transition to online teaching, as many have experienced, is not easy.
While in the short term platforms like Ding Talk work as they can be deployed very quickly and cheaply, they are not really designed as online classrooms and don’t have the key features required for teaching (interactive class materials, student reward systems, drawing tools etc.) Nor do they have student and teacher management systems to handle scheduling, class feedback or customer service.
While parents will no doubt understand the expediency of teaching online via a platform like Ding Talk, it’s not a sustainable model long term (unless Ding Talk adjusts the platform quickly for its new user case!)
RECRUITMENT OF FOREIGN TEACHERS
There is an industry tied to the ELT industry that recruits foreign teachers into China. There is a lot of concern that the supply of qualified foreign teachers will become even tighter. In the short term at least, rightly or wrongly, China may no longer be seen an attractive destination for teachers due to the coronavirus. Given the Chinese government’s recent tightening of regulations on teachers’ qualifications and backgrounds, some smaller schools are going to need to reassess the feasibility of the foreign teacher in the offline classroom.
With no reduction in desire from parents and students for qualified foreign teachers however, new models for language schools will be needed if foreign teacher supply does indeed fall. One option that will need to be explored is an expanded role for high-quality local teachers teaching in the offline classroom coupled with an independent contractor foreign teacher teaching online. This could be either joining the classroom live via a teaching platform or as additional classes when students are at home.
AND THE REST OF THE WORLD?
The impact of the coronavirus will not just be felt in the Chinese ELT market, but many other countries that rely on China as a source of a lot of their students. With the travel restrictions due to the fear of a global spread Chinese students are not travelling to language schools and camps abroad. In the UK bookings have already fallen dramatically, and with other major sources of students, such as Italy and Japan, also reducing bookings the future is looking rather bleak for some businesses. They too will need to find ways to adapt to the changing future of ELT.
We have been saying it for years but the coronavirus may have just proved it. The future of language teaching not just in China, but globally, is online.