There are ample opportunities to teach English in China. The language is in high demand with an ever-increasing number of placements available across different types of institutions. But which one most suits you? What would best compliment your skills, strengths and abilities in teaching? Teaching children can be a whole different world to teaching adults. To help you gauge which would best fit your interests in teaching, we’ve prepared for you today a guide to all the different settings to which you can teach English in China!
Kindergarten and preschool
English Education can often start from a very young age in China. Competitive parents want their children to do well and it stands to reason. Some children will start learning English as young as 18 months old; this is the role of kindergarten and pre-school teachers. By far, this is one of the most difficult, but rewarding placements. Teaching young children demands a great deal of energy, patience and of course personal responsibility. You must be able to have the skills to innovate a teaching style which is fun, creative, but also capable of controlling the situation.
Teaching primary school children is similar to the above, although you have the added bonus of being able to communicate better and being able to reason more with your students. With more abilities than in pre-school, primary school kids love playing games, this will be necessary to keep their attention. As a result this sort of job requires a greater scope of creativity to make their learning experience enjoyable. Always have a range of activities and back-up plans that you can draw from in order to manage the situation..
High school and middle school
In China middle and high school children are very committed, consequentially coming across as quiet, obedient and focused on their studies. They face heavy parental and family pressure as they prepare for the national entrance exam to higher education, known as the 高考 (gaokao). As a result, people who prefer a more formal teaching style will flourish at this level. At the same time, it’s also a role which requires the teacher to give students more personal and specific support. This is not all about generic lessons and games, it’s about identifying where each student is at and how you can help them improve with feedback.
University teaching is the most flexible and less pressurized context to work in. You’re working with adults, not children or teenagers, meaning the maturity is a beneficiary when it comes to organization and communication. As your students are other adults, this gives you the opportunity likewise to form more lasting friendships with them. Some of your pupils may even invite you out for a meal or a drink, which is normal in Chinese culture.
Teaching at a private centre is a mixed bag, with a variation of age groups as well as a variation in the language capability. It all depends on the specific centre itself. Some more established ones may have a pre-existing syllabus and an allocated textbook for you to follow, others may require more creativity. In terms of a salary, private centers on average offer more than schools.
Class sizes are also smaller on average, but for all these positives there are some drawbacks to be aware of. Due to being a private center, accommodating a range of age groups, it is likely some classes will be held on the weekend and evenings.
Conclusion: Choose Carefully!
If you are a qualified candidate, the world is your oyster when it comes to teaching opportunities in China. What we recommend however, is to choose wisely. Teaching English comes in many forms, varieties and contexts. Think carefully about your strengths, weaknesses and also your preferred style of teaching. You may be best with kids, or you may be best for adults. So don’t jump at the first teaching position you see, weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of each role!