So, you have decided that you want to teach in China. That’s great and we’re super excited for you!
Now you need to decide where you want to teach. China is a huge country full of diversity and choosing the right location for you is key to having the best time.
But a word of warning – you’ll need to be a bit flexible as you can only go where there is a demand. Nevertheless, it’s good to have an idea what you want to get out of your time in China – the type of area you want to live in (ie mega-city, city, town or rural) and the type of teaching job you want. If you don’t know much about China, don’t worry. You can chat with your recruiter about the type of experience you want and they will be able to help you decide on a location and educational setting that suits your requirements. Here we look at some of the things you should now be considering t help you make the right decision.
Do you want to live in a big city?
City life is popular among people travelling to teach in China as it offers all the main elements of the cities that you are used to but, of course, with the added touch of Chinese culture. If you want to live in a city, think about whether you would like a major city such as Beijing or Shanghai or somewhere a little less touristy such as Shenzhen, Tianjin or Guangzhou. These three cities are largely populated with plenty to see and do but are just a tad quieter than the big cities. Known as tier 2 or tier 3 cities, they are still populated by over a million people and you should not expect them to be quiet. They are also less touristy so there will be fewer foreigners there and but the cost of living will be lower than it would be in the biggest cities. You may prefer to live somewhere like this or you might want to consider staying in one of the major cities if you like the idea of somewhere cosmopolitan and with lots of foreign visitors, but you can expect to pay slightly more for those areas.
If you prefer a small town away from the cities and a bit more ‘authentic’ you might want to consider somewhere on the outskirts of Zhangjiajie or Guilin. Rural teaching jobs are harder to come by but if it’s what you fancy, talk it through with your recruiter. Or you might like to teach in a coastal city such as Xiamen in the south of China. Wherever you choose to teach, just make sure it’s not somewhere too isolated.
What age students do you want to teach?
It may be that you genuinely don’t mind and will take any age group and is so that’s great. But if you have a particular age group in mind, either because you have experience of working with them or just feel it would suit you better, don’t be afraid to say so. But you’ll find that the behaviour and work ethic in a Chinese school is somewhat better than is sometimes found in England so you needn’t be nervous about teaching teenagers in China. In both middle school and high school, the stakes are high and you might actually find it really rewarding!
Do you want to travel the country?
This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for you to immerse yourself in a foreign culture so it may be important for you to travel and see the country. If this is the case, you’ll want to research the landmarks and cities in easy reach of where you plan to live. You will also need to check the transport links. Is there an airport or train station nearby? If not you could find that travelling becomes impractical and you have wasted your opportunity.