5 Things to consider before you teach English in China

5 Things to consider before you teach English in China

Things to consider before you teach English in China

image via Brian Yap, CC BY-NC 2.0

A guest post by Dimitris Vlachos

If you’re interested in teaching English in China, then you’re in for an exciting and rewarding adventure. As a company which specialises in helping people like you teach abroad, we understand what you’re going through. We’ve helped hundreds of people find jobs in China and we hope to do the same for you.

But before you leave for your new country, there are a few important things for you to consider before you teach English in China. Here are a few tips so that you know what to expect before you make the big move!


1. You Have To Live On A Teacher’s Budget

While it is true that teaching salaries are on the rise in China, there is little wiggle room to live a luxurious lifestyle. Many people who teach abroad do so in order to pay back their college loans, save up, or travel. While you can do these things, you can’t do all of them at once in China like you may be able to in other countries where the salaries are higher.

You’re going to need to choose the lifestyle you wish to live before you go. If you’re teaching in China so that you can travel, then put your extra wages toward day and weekend trips, but you won’t be able to save much. If you wish to pay back your student loans, you can, but you won’t be able to travel as much as you might like. Research the average Chinese ESL salary and use a cost of living calculator to help you figure out what you’re likely to make and spend.


2. Get A Job Through A Recruiter

Finding a job in China through a recruiter will simplify the process and have a few added benefits as well. Many schools in China do not advertise for teachers online, so it’s hard to see all of the options available to you. Plus, you may never find out what the place you’ll be living in is like until you arrive. Once you find a recruiter you’ll have increased job opportunities, have a picture in mind of what the school is like, and you can earn better benefits and a higher salary.


3. There’s No Need To Speak Chinese

During your time in China, it’s likely that you’ll want to pick up the language and bring it back home with you. However learning Chinese takes time, so don’t expect to be fluent in the first few months. Start off by going to restaurants which have picture menus and invest in cheap business cards with your address on them.

When you’re ready to learn Chinese, read blog posts about how other’s have learned the language. You can also practice today by using apps like Duolingo. Once you’re there, there are plenty of schools that offer reasonably priced language classes.


4. Understand How To Say ‘No’

Since you’re a tourist, there’s always the fun fact that you’re going to be a target for people looking to make a little extra money. This happens in every country, even the United States. However, you’re likely to stick out as a foreigner and as a result people will try to get you to buy things you don’t need.

Learn how to tell people ‘no’ politely so that you can avoid wasting your money and time. It’s important to not feel pressured or you’ll make a buy just to avoid the awkward situation. It’s okay to say no.


5. What’s Your Skin Colour?

The most awkward thing to consider before your move to China is what your skin colour is. Sadly in Chinese society skin colour still holds weight and if you’re darkly complected, you will occasionally be judged. This is a common problem in many developing nations because some people believe skin colour is associated with social standing.

These situations will always be uncomfortable, but keep in mind that for every bad situation you have, you’ll likely have at least one (or more) heart-warming situation where you’re complemented or cared for. Not everyone judges based on skin colour.

Teaching English in China is going to be one of the highlights of your life. China is a beautiful country with an equally beautiful history and culture that will serve to enrich you for the rest of your life. Knowing these five things will help you to develop a broader understanding of what it’s like to teach and live in China.


Author Bio

Dimitris works as a full stack marketer at Movinhand. Movinhand helps educators get the salary they deserve. We promote teachers around the world and get them the best possible offer within 10 days of signing up.


This article was published in May 2017.


China Backpacking Budget

backpacking budget China

(Map of China from wikitravel, can be re-used under CC BY-SA 3.0)


Daily Travel Costs in China on a Shoestring Budget

US$30 | 200 Chinese Yuan Renminbi

China may have risen to the status of global super power over the past 15 years thanks to enormous economic growth but the country is still on the whole very good value and prices haven’t risen as much as you might think. There is a great deal of regional variation of course with Shanghai for example considerably more expensive than the predominantly rural West of the country but even the big cities are still really quite affordable if you steer clear of the bars and restaurants that are clearly geared towards the wealthy.

A one-way ticket on the Beijing subway will set you back just 4 Yuan for example (the equivalent of US$0.60). More local geared restaurants are also great value but menus aren’t all that easy to read and English isn’t widely spoken even in the big cities. Street stalls and BBQs offer a good alternative and are found all over the country. It’s much easier to know what you are getting with them and you can often stack up on tasty snacks that won’t set you back much cash. Going out can also be good value and if you know where to go you can find amazingly cheap bars and clubs which sometimes have ‘all you can drink’ deals for under $20.

The cost of travelling between destinations can add up though if you are looking to see large areas of the country in a relatively short space of time. In that case $30 might be an unrealistic budget but if you are spending a lot of time in more rural areas you can certainly get by on that sort of amount and do a large amount of travelling around.

Our China backpacking budget of $30/day isn’t impossible on a day-to-day basis in Beijing but might be a bit tougher to stick to in Shanghai where accommodation tends to be a bit more expensive. In general though you should probably allow a bit more if you are sticking to the Eastern route between Shanghai and Beijing with perhaps a couple of other stops. Even that would be dependent on you not taking any internal flights and settling for the slower but cheaper trains rather than the fancy high-speed ones.

See where China ranks on our World Budget Travel Table.


More Comfortable China Backpacker Budget

US$45 | 300 Chinese Yuan Renminbi

Coming up with a general budget for China in an article like this is pretty tough as it really does depend quite a lot on what part of the country you are in and how you choose to travel. By upping your budget to $45/day you won’t need to stress out as much and might be able to afford the odd high speed train or flight if you are in the country for more than a couple of weeks. It should also be enough to cover your daily expenses in any city in mainland China or even Hong Kong.


Sample Prices in China

Flight from Shanghai to Kunming (3 hours 25 mins) – 450¥  ($70)

Beijing to Shanghai by High-Speed train in 2nd class (5-6 hours) – 450-555¥ ($70-85)

Cheapest berth on Beijing to Shanghai slow sleeper train (15 hours) – 327¥ ($50)

 Meal at an inexpensive restaurant – 25¥ ($4)

Large local beer in a bar or restaurant – 5¥ ($0.75)

Dorm bed in Beijing – from 35¥/night ($5)

Budget private double or twin room – 75-150¥/night (large amount of variation between cities) ($11-22)

Entrance to the Forbidden City, Beijing – 40-60¥ ($6-9)

Compare this with the cost of travel in Japan.


Money

Currency – Chinese Yuan Renminbi

£1 = 9.46 CNY

€1 = 7.45 CNY

US$1 =  6.56 CNY

(All exchange rates are correct as of June 2016)


MFT Recommends

We suggest staying at Beijing Sunrise Youth Hostel Beihai Branch on your visit to the capital. The Forbidden city is within walking distance and it boasts some of the best value beds in town.


street art in China

street art in Shanghai, China (via Marc GarnautCC BY-NC 2.0)


Share your Travel Costs!

If you’ve been to China recently, please let everyone know your typical daily costs by commenting below 😉


This article was published in June 2016.


Top 10 Budget Travel Tips For First-time Travelers In China

A guest post by Jason Blondo

Traveling across China can be pretty tough for first-timers, and even tougher if you are short on cash. Let’s face it, the days of having supremely cheap travel in China are long gone and just a distant memory. Prices for food, airline tickets and hotels are gradually increasing, with China’s economy and tourism picking up steam over the last thirty years. But with a little travel planning and research, you can have a blast and experience a cozy trip to this Asian hub, without having to starve to yourself or sleep on crappy beds.

Top 10 Budget Travel Tips For First-Time Travelers In China

1. Travel by train

A sure-fire way to save a huge amount of money, when traveling across China, is to ditch the plane, and take the train. Train tickets are usually 75 percent cheaper than airline tickets to the same destination in China. And if you travel overnight, you can also save the cost of a hostel or hotel room.

A railway map of China

2. Book your airline tickets on a Chinese trip planning site

While I recommend that you take the train as often as possible, sometimes the distances and long hours make train travel an impractical option. If flying is your best and only option, make sure to buy your tickets from Chinese travel planning sites like ctrip.com, elong.com and qunar.com since they offer far cheaper airfare deals than you would find on Kayak, Expedia and other US-based travel search engines. You can book internal flights on these Chinese sites and pay with your debit or credit card and by the way, these websites are in English, so there is no language barrier.

3. Eat like a Chinaman

Eating in a nice and fancy restaurant in China will cost you around 44 CNY (9 USD). A simple meal of street food or noodles, however, will only cost you around 7 CNY (1 USD)! China has a plethora of mouthwatering and cheap food (which is nothing like what you will find in Western “Chinese” restaurants), meaning you won’t have a problem eating on a budget here.

4. Ditch the hotels and stay in a hostel

Sounds so cliché? Of course, this is an absolute no-brainer for traditional and experienced travelers. But if you are someone who’s used to luxury travel, this may not be such an obvious tip-off.

People, for the most part, think that hostels in Asian countries such as China are loud, uncomfortable and untidy. Though there are a few hostels like that in China, I can honestly say that most Chinese hostels are just as comfortable as 3-star hotels.

If you are traveling solo, you can save a ton of cash by staying in a hostel community room. For those who are traveling with a family or a group, and want some privacy, most hostels in China also offer a private room option, which as a little more expensive, but is still cheaper by 50 percent than most hotels in the country.

Planning on taking this route? I suggest that you take a look at Hostelworld. Not only does it have a great and wide selection of hostels, but it also includes photos as well as honest reviews from recent customers.

Staying in hostels in China

5. AirBnb or Couchsurfing

Coursurfing and Airbnb are also becoming rather popular in this East Asian destination, and can be a great alternative for those who are traveling on a tight budget.

6. Buy a local SIM card in China

China’s pay-as-you-go (prepaid) SIM cards are extremely cheap, and definitely a great investment when traveling in China. With this kind of SIM card, you’ll get to save yourself the trouble of dealing with expensive and awkward overseas data plans. Plus, it will make it a lot more convenient for you to stay in touch with your fellow travelers and hostels.

7. Try to limit your time in big Chinese cities

I’m not saying that you skip out a visit to Shanghai, Xi’an, Hong Kong, Beijing and other big cities during your trip to China. After all, anyone who visits China wants to see its main and most celebrated attractions, such as the iconic Great Wall of China in Beijing and mystical Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an. What I’m trying to say, though, is don’t linger in these cities.  Based on my estimations, a day of expenses in a major Chinese city is equivalent to three or four days anywhere else in this sprawling nation.  Trust me, food, diversions and lodging all cost a lot less once you get out of the big cities.

So, when visiting a major city in China, spend a couple of days or less hitting all the attractions that matter to you the most. Afterwards, get out of there as quickly as possible.

Shanghai Bund Skyline at night

8. Visit lesser known places in China

Visiting the lesser known areas in the country not only lets you experience the real Chinese culture (not its touristy side), but it can save you money as well. In Hunan province, for instance, you can happily live paying local prices – or not paying at all because it is a great honor for the Chinese to present a foreign visitor with a gift. Plus, it allows you to see amazing natural wonders and unique sites that have yet to be featured in lifestyle and travel magazines.

9. Learn a few important Chinese phrases

You don’t have to become fluent in Mandarin, but mastering a few simple and basic phrases will help you save a ton of cash. Folks and locals in China will treat you better if they notice you making a great effort in speaking their native language. If you try to learn and speak their language, they will sometimes offer their house or apartment as a place to stay overnight. In addition, they will take you for a dinner, lunch or karaoke show, and they will pay for everything.

10. Teach in China 

Teaching English in China

One of the best and cheapest ways to travel around China is to work there as an English teacher. Not only will it give you free accommodation, but it also lets you know China’s culture on a more intimate level. Plus, the salary is decent, and it gives you a home base for affordable weekend trips.

Here are 5 things to consider before teaching English in China.

 


This article was published in December 2015.