2 Amazing Years Teaching English in China

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Teaching Location: Guangzhou, China
Type of Teaching Job: Kindergarten
Student Age Group: Kids
Monthly Salary: 11,000 RMB ($1,600 USD)
Monthly Rent: Included!
Living Arrangement: 2-bedroom apartment
Monthly Savings: $750-$1,000 USD
Contract Bonuses: Housing, lunches, end of contract bonus

Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
Hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge

⋯ By Quincy Smith ⋯

I spent 2 years teaching English in China and loved (almost) every minute of it. As a country, China is incredibly diverse and culturally rich and I was fortunate enough to land a job in the third largest city, Guangzhou – the center of the universe if you love dim sum.

I decided to pursue a job in China after visiting there a few years prior when I spent a bit of time traveling in Northern China, though I settled on Guangzhou in hopes of better weather and air.

Getting the job was pretty straightforward, I used a recruiter to feed me job opportunities and pursued the ones that I was most interested in – having taught in Korea before I wasn’t entirely new to the process and realized there were plenty of good jobs to go around.

In the end, I settled on a job a bit in the suburbs but with housing included and a modest end-of-contract bonus, two things I’d advise anyone to look for when considering jobs.

What I Loved about Teaching English in China

Public Transportation

If you work in any developed city in China then public transportation will be abundant and well-organized. In Guangzhou, the bus stops on every corner and endless miles of subway tracks made it easy to navigate the city, though rush hour was always a nightmare. On top of that, if you don’t speak Chinese, the stops are written in English as well to ensure you don’t get too lost!

The Ease of Exploring and Traveling

China is huge and teaching will allow you plenty of time to explore the different parts of the country. Similar to public transportation, trains and planes are affordable and go pretty much everywhere – you can take an overnight train to Beijing or fly to Mongolia for a reasonable price. I cannot overstate how amazing China is as a place to explore and they have made it quite easy to do so.

The Food

Yes, the food takes some getting used to – it is not like Chinese food you might order at home. Still, the variety of flavors and history behind each dish is reason enough to visit. Most restaurants have menus that are a dozen pages long and filled with pictures, so don’t worry if you don’t speak Chinese!

What I Didn’t Love about Teaching English in China

The Ingredients

Yes, most of the food I ate was amazing, but the food industry is still catching up to the times and quality can be suspect. Because of this, it’s easy to get sick when trying new things – especially from street vendors or BBQ tents. This will happen less and less as your body adapts and you find regular places to eat, but it’s constant a risk when trying new restaurants or neighborhoods.

The Communication

I was often the last person to be told about something happening at the school – whether it was an event or holiday, word only seemed to get around on the last possible day. Other Chinese teachers said this was common but it made planning and preparation very frustrating.

The Weather

I saved this one for last because it is entirely my fault. I chose to work in Southern China primarily because the air quality was superior to the north (which is true) but neglected the fact that it’s sweltering from Spring to Fall. Temperatures easily exceeded 30C in the summer and when you factor in the humidity it’s like living in a cloud. On top of that, most schools don’t turn on their AC until May so you will likely have some hot classes ahead of you, especially if you’re teaching kids!

A compromise to this is the Western part of China, especially Yunnan province – the air is generally clear there and they have a much more regular climate with 4 seasons and low humidity.

Would I Do It Again?

Absolutely. My time in China was incredible and I loved both my school and city. China is an intimidating country, especially if you don’t speak Chinese, but the people are kind and the scenery is amazing – I’d recommend it to anyone looking to teach abroad.

Teaching English in China - Erhai Lake
At Erhai Lake outside of Dali in Yunnan Province

Contact Quincy Smith

Email: quincy@eslauthority.com
Website: eslauthority.com

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6 years ago

This was an interesting read! I never had the desire to visit China until I started teaching Chinese students online. Now, I’d love to go someday!

Michele Frame
6 years ago

Sounds fascinating!! I truly would love to teach abroad, someday. It’s very helpful to have a heads-up about some of the frustrations. Good to know!! Thanks so much for sharing. I’m currently an ESL teacher in a suburb of Dallas. We are very culturally diverse on my campus!! Would love to experience teaching children or adults English abroad, maybe someday!!

6 years ago

It sounds like a wonderful experience I would love to have someday. Right now I’m teaching English online to kids in China and I absolutely LOVE it!

6 years ago

This is amazing! Post undergraduate year I had such wanderlust. I wanted to travel and experience new things. So I did; but it was difficult to work solely in the U.S and continue my worldwide explorations.

This seems like it was such a fun and rewarding experience.

I currently love teaching online from my home. I can easily travel with my job. And because I teach Chinese students now, my next major destination will probably be to China! =)

6 years ago

This was a nice read Quincy, thanks. I’d be really interested to know if you had a chance to visit other Chinese cities or even the rural areas. For example, what was your impression of Shanghai or Beijing comapred to Guangzhou?

6 years ago

Wow – thanks for the comments! Caroline – Do it! China is incredible and it will be great to learn more about your students’ culture! Michele – I hope you make it happen! Donna – Sounds great, it’s wonderful to see so many people enjoying online teaching! Niya – It’s awesome all your work can be done online, when do you think you’ll pull the trigger on China? Tomiwa – I was fortunate to travel extensively in China, including the major hubs like Beijing and Shanghai – both are awesome cities, much more international than Guangzhou. Still, even with the… Read more »

Meilin Lian
4 years ago

Thank You for this post. I saw, read this post and immediately shared to one of my friend who recently got an offer from Hebei New Times International for Volunteer Teacher Job in China. This inspired her a lot.

4 years ago
Reply to  Meilin Lian

That’s great – thanks!

4 years ago

Sounds fantastic. Visited China a few times…great place & good people.
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