Frequently Asked Questions
The Most common FAQ asked about teaching in China
China is the fastest growing economy in the world and most things are now available to purchase particularly in bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
Some initial comfort foods from home are always a good idea. Family photos for your apartment can help you settle in easier. Universal adapters for your electronics. A few good books are also handy to have.
Schools will often provide basic medical insurance for your stay in China but it is advisable to get your own for peace of mind. The healthcare system in China is not like the NHS so you do pay to see a doctor and for your treatment. It is fairly inexpensive for minor problems and also very quick to get an appointment with a doctor.
There are western hospitals with English speaking doctors which are more expensive but your own travel insurance would usually cover this. Check with your school during negotiations for your contract to see what they can offer. We can help if you are not getting what you are after.
China is a vast country with huge cities like Beijing, Guangzhou, and Shanghai. These are called first-tier cities. You can expect higher pay but also higher living costs in these places. You can live like a westerner with all the amenities of any big city in the world but you are less likely to save as much money if you live in this way.
If you were to choose a second or third tier city then your experience would be a lot more authentic. You can immerse yourself in the culture and language a lot easier. It really depends on you as a person and what you feel comfortable with. We can guide you on what to expect for each job offer you are given regarding the area.
The school you will be working at will arrange for you to be picked up at the airport. You will then be taken to your accommodation.
The school will assign you an English-speaking assistant who will help with all your daily needs. They will also help you become orientated with the new environment and school.
It is better to arrive a week or so earlier than your projected start time so you can get used to things.
Not really. You will have an English-speaking assistant throughout your time in China. Also, you are working in an English department so the Chinese teachers will all be able to speak English.
The level of students will vary but for less able students you will usually have a classroom assistant to help with communication in the classroom.
In bigger cities, more people can speak English. If you are living and working in China then it is a perfect opportunity to pick up the language. The more you can speak the more rewarding your time will be here.
It is inevitable that at some point you will have a bit of this. If you accept that this will happen then it is easier to see it as another experience in your adventure. Some people will phone home every day but it is better to try to establish a pattern where you immerse yourself in your new environment and limit the calls to a certain time per week if possible.
There will be many other teachers in a similar position in your chosen city, (just check the most popular bar). They know what you are going through and you can share your experiences easily with someone who can empathise. If possible, try to hang out with people who are positive about China rather than those who constantly compare it negatively to the UK.
We will also put you in touch with other teachers in China before you leave so you can speak openly with them.
Your accommodation will include all the basics for a comfortable life. Kitchen, tv, shower, internet, living area, air conditioning. Each placement will have different accommodation but you can ask for photos in the negotiation stage.
Unlike other agents, we try to make sure that all teachers have their own private accommodation as we understand the importance of having your own space. Other agents may try to put you in shared apartments with other teachers to cut costs but we insist with our schools that each teacher has their own private apartment.
We charge the school in China a placement fee for finding suitable and qualified teachers like yourself. We do not charge you any money like other agents in the UK who charge you and the school.
We know how life changing this experience can be for you as we’ve been there. There is a part of us that wants to share this with other adventurous people.
When you’ve settled in you will meet the head of the English department who will go through their expectations of you and which courses, they expect you to teach and to whom.
You can discuss your own ideas with them. It is important to strike up a good relationship with the English department teachers so you can all benefit from each other.
Your English-speaking assistant is there to help you resolve anything that comes up. You should try to be as open and flexible as possible when dealing with any problems that may come up.
It is natural that you will face some challenges as you are coming into a new culture and environment. It is in everybody’s interest to work together in a harmonious way.
It is not overly formal so no need for a suit if you are a man. Don’t be too informal either though. Leave the flip-flops and shorts for the beach. Women should dress a little conservatively.
Of course. In government schools, you will get all public holidays off. Private language schools can also get paid travel allowance. This can be negotiated and put into the contract with your school.
Many people also choose to stay on at the end of their contract to see more of China and the surrounding countries. Travel is extremely convenient by air, train, and bus.
Nightlife is plentiful in China. Karaoke is particularly popular. Western bars will be found in major cities as well as smaller cities.
There are many guides for different areas on the internet which can let you know more about the different cities and what to expect. You can also ask us about what you can expect. Keep an eye on our blogs for in-depth articles on this.
China is a very safe place to live and work. You will feel this almost as soon as you arrive. The Chinese show respect for foreigners, however, it’s important that you remember you are a guest in the country.
Remain respectful towards the people and culture and you will find that you’ll make a lot of friends.
You can gain many transferable skills from your time here that will look very impressive on your CV. Independence and adaptability are core values you will pick up. Try to learn some of the language during your time as well. There are formal qualifications for Chinese learning called HSK exams which you can take to add to your CV.
The early levels are quite easy to achieve in a short space of time. Try not to get into an expat bubble, take the time to make friends with the locals and your time here will be a lot more rewarding.
WeChat is the number one communication app in China. It is impossible to understate the importance of this tool in China right now and how much you will use this when you arrive. It is an instant messenger, voice messenger, video and voice caller, Facebook and payment system built into one.
Your family and friends should also download this for communicating with you once you are here as WhatsApp is sometimes blocked. WeChat is completely free to use and you can make international video and voice calls to other users absolutely free. You can also set up groups with other teachers in China and chat with them easily.
After you have made initial contact with us it is very convenient to continue communications using WeChat so we do encourage you to get this software on your phone as soon as possible. You can download it free from any of the app stores.
There are bike-sharing schemes like Mobike and OFO. These are very cheap and plentiful to use. You can download the apps to your phones and use these freely.
Uber was recently bought out in China so the best app to use for taxis is Didi. You can get cars to take you and drop you off anywhere at a reasonable price and there is also an English version.