Preparing to Teach in China

This is my guide to preparing to teach in China. Before I graduated college I knew I wanted to find a job teaching English in China. But, I wasn’t sure how I’d find that job. I tried using job websites, like Dave’s ESL, but was overwhelmed by all the job listings promising the best but giving little to no details. I broad casted to friends, family and colleagues my desires and was lucky enough to come across a girl from China studying her masters at my university who had a juicy job lead for me. Through her lead I found my current job.
I am thankful to my friend, I was able to land a job in China without paying a job placement organization to place me in a fly-by-night school. But, I got lucky, here are some questions I wish I had asked:

1. What is the square footage of my apartment?
2. How old is the apartment building?
3. What kind of water heating system is used in the shower?
4. How far is the apartment from the school?
5. Can I find alternate housing?
6. How many hours will I be teaching
7. What kind of English will I be teaching? (Grammar, spoken, writing, phonetics, etc.)
8. Will I be responsible for making my own lesson plans?
9. What are my students English proficiency?
10. What dates are my holidays?
11. Are there any lifestyle restrictions? (religion, drinking, curfew, etc.)
12. How far is the school/my apartment from the city center?
13. How many students will I be teaching?

If housing is provided, ask many questions about your housing (size, utilities, age, quality, location). Make sure to nail down the teaching requirements. My boss continually avoided my questions about particulars, told me not to worry and ensured me once I arrived we would discuss everything in full detail. I arrived without knowing my lesson plan requirements, number of students, type of English or my students proficiency.

Number 11 may surprise you. At my college the foreign teachers live in the same building as students. All students on campus have a10:30pm curfew (Sunday-Friday) and a 12:00 curfew (Saturday). Our apartment building is locked once curfew is reached. Therefore, all the foreign teachers follow this curfew rule. We can work around it, but it’s quite a hassle. Other schools may include Christian ethics and require you to be a Christian yourself.

As I said, some of the questions above I asked and never received an answer. Ask more than once. I asked to video chat with my prospective boss but was denied. Instead I corresponded and video chatted with a current teacher. Luckily she was free and willing to answer all my questions. Find someone who will video chat with you. Find someone who will give you detailed answers to all your questions. Do not assume anything about your standards of living or your job requirements without proof.

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