Astonishing China: 5 things to do when you’re not teaching English


So you’ve got your TEFL certificate, made the leap and moved to China to teach English. Teaching English is one of the most exciting things you’ll do and there are so many other benefits to go with it! The pay is great and you’ll have loads of free time to pursue your dreams and interests. If you are teaching English in a state school or university in China, you’ll generally be teaching English for about 16 hours a week.

In kindergartens, you work from Monday to Friday with evenings and weekends off plus all the national holidays. Training centres are generally evenings and weekends with days off during the week. Wherever you are teaching English in China, you’ll be amazed at what you can do in your free time.


Master Chinese

Chinese is the most spoken language in the world, so what better place to come and learn it. As China is such a vast country, there are many dialects spoken throughout. Cantonese is spoken in the south of China in cities like Hong Kong and Guangzhou, but most people in China can understand Pu Tong Hua or Mandarin Chinese. If you are serious about learning, then this is what you should try to master! Before you dive into writing characters, you should first study pinyin. This is the writing system which helps you to pronounce words correctly.

It is easy to get qualified in Chinese. The national examination system for foreigners to show Chinese proficiency is called “Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi” or “HSK”. There are six levels, with level one for beginners moving to level six, which is at a near-native level for writing, reading and speaking. You can take the tests in different centres throughout China. If learning Chinese is not for you, don’t worry! As an English teacher in China, people will try and converse with you in English, both in the classroom and on the street. But if you want to understand the people and the culture, spend an hour a day learning ten words. You won’t regret it!


Gain new qualifications

A lot of people travel to China, find that they love it and then want to stay. Due to the abundant jobs, free time and good pay, many choose teaching English. The first thing is to get qualified with TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. Many companies offer TEFL training online so you can do it at your convenience. Our 120 hour TEFL course is comprehensive and covers everything you need to get you ready to teach English. If you are already working in a teaching position, then you’ve probably got your TEFL certificate, but many teachers choose to use their free time to gain more qualifications.


International schools in China generally pay the best money, but you also need to hold a further teaching qualification such as a PGCE (Post Graduate Certificate in Education). Numerous universities around the world offer this course which takes a year. You do need to have a degree to be accepted onto this and usually be in a place of work where you can conduct research. It is an excellent qualification to gain, and you’ll find as an English teacher, you will have the time to complete it, and it will open up even more doors for you.

Exhilarating travel

One of the best things about teaching English in China is the opportunities for travel. China is a vast country stretching from the western desert-scapes of Xinjiang to dazzling Shanghai on the east coast. When you’re not teaching English, you can hop on a train or plane and get to a completely different landscape in a few hours. China has something to suit every traveller. Visit the incredible rock formations of Guilin, wander around the old hutongs of Beijing or hit the beach in Hainan.

Travel in China is cheap and convenient too. All the major cities are linked by high-speed trains and airports are found in even minor cities in China. It is easy to book tickets online, even if you don’t speak the language. If you are TEFL qualified, teaching English in China will give you the salary to enjoy some amazing travel adventures.


Explore Chinese food

After you’ve finished teaching English for the day, you’re sure to be hungry. Don’t worry! There are so many restaurants selling all types of amazing Chinese food. Every region has its own specialities. Chongqing is famous for its spicy hotpot and the north of China does the best dumplings.

Wherever you are living is likely to influence what you’ll be eating. Inner Mongolia is heavy on the dairy and Guangdong tends to serve sweeter, blander Chinese food. The big cities offer all the big western restaurants, but try to be adventurous as Chinese food has amazing variety and something for everyone.


Challenge yourself

Meet the locals and immerse yourself in one of China’s amazing past times like Tai Chi or Kung Fu. Teaching English is a great way to meet people and you will get lots of offers from parents to join them outside of class time. If you want something a little less strenuous, how about Chinese Calligraphy or join the Chinese in their love of Kareoke.

There are so many wonderful pastimes you can get involved in. It will help you understand the culture and enrich your experience in China even more. You can learn more Mandarin and make lots of new friends. Whatever you decide to do, make your time in China count. You never know when you’ll come back again!

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