So you are thinking of joining the growing list of ESL teachers in China, right? Or have you already secured a lucrative contract with a private English language school in China and are wondering what to expect once you enter the classroom? Well, you are at the right place. Here, you will learn all the dos and don’ts in Chinese schools. There are numerous differences between Chinese schools and your native country schools. For instance, children in Chinese schools spend the better part of the day in school while in countries like U.S. and Europe children leave school in the afternoon. This requires you to know what to expect at your new workplace. Here is a list of dos and don’ts that foreign teachers should know while teaching English in Chinese schools.
What to Do in Chinese Schools
Do Be Punctual
Punctuality is a virtue in China. Keeping time shows that you have respect for others. It is a common habit for Chinese people to show up a while before the set time as a sign of earnestness. Being on time for your classes shows you respect your students, work, and education and this will go down well with both your employer and the students.
Do Hang Out With the Locals
One reason you are going to China is to experience a new culture. Therefore, spend time with the locals, both students and the community to experience and live their culture. Make friends and acquaintances. Chinese people are known to spend their holidays and special occasions sharing a large meal with family. You will quickly feel at home when invited to such gatherings if you have been mingling with the locals. Chinese people are loving, and you won’t regret breaking from your cohort of foreigners as the community will absorb you and treat you like their own.
Do Adhere To Superstitions
If you want to get fully absorbed into the Chinese community and get make your students feel free to relate with you, then you must absorb their culture. This means to superstitious even though you don’t believe in them. Chinese have countless superstitious beliefs like where student don’t eat eggs before examinations because they are shaped like digit zero. Your students will most likely be following such beliefs, therefore, learn to speak with them to learn of more beliefs.
Do Have Humor With a smile on your face; you will open many doors in your class
Your student will say many sorts of things about you like calling you fat, saying you have a big forehead or long nose. Understand that Asians have their uniquely built body. Therefore, your body will be different from theirs. If a question like “Why do you have a long nose?” are asked, take it lightly as it is not meant to be abusive. Rather, explain such questions with a laugh to keep a light mood and openness in the classroom.
What Not to Do in Chinese Schools
Don’t Speak Negatively About China
Chinese nationals are very nationalistic, and this is a virtue that is taught early in school. As a matter of fact, don’t get surprised when you hear questions like, “Do you like China?” or “Do you like chopsticks?” Such questions should attract one answer- Yes. A “No” answer will generate shocked faces as these kids might not understand why you would hate a universal tool that has been in existence since the birth of China. Speak positively about China and let the kids know you are on the same page with them.
Don’t Speak Negatively About Your Native Country
Just like you don’t negatively about China, speaking negatively about your native country will raise patriotism questions. Since these kids have been taught on patriotism and nationalism, they don’t expect you to break a rule so important. Let them see patriotism in you too.
Don’t Discus Religion
There is freedom of worship in China which is left to be enforced by parents and guardians. Chinese is a multi-religion country with the dominant religions being:
Religion discussion is forbidden in the classroom as there are numerous religions in the country. You are advised not to discuss holy books such as the Koran, the Bible and the rest as this might be seen like you are trying to influence the students. To be on the safe side, steer clear of this topic completely.
Don’t Oppose The Cultural Differences
Like in every country, there are cultural practices in China that adhered to by the Chinese nationals. Though some of these practices might be insignificant to you, you are supposed to respect them and possibly adhere to them too. It’s nice to embrace other cultures especially when you are residing within the community. In a classroom, simple cultural practices may range from the way kids plait their hair in the junior school or how to relate with adult students in private English language schools. It is, therefore, best to understand the cultural in China and appreciate it rather than judging people.
Don’t Discuss Your Salary
One thing that your employer will ask you not to divulge to any unauthorized party is your salary. Even though your earn lesser or more than what you would earn in your home country, and which is mostly more than what local teachers there earn, you are obliged to keep your mouth mum when such a question is asked.
It is a general assumption that foreign teachers earn more than what local teachers earn in China, so discussing your salary with students, fellow teacher or the community may sound like an insult to the local teacher who earns lesser than you.
Don’t Discuss What Is Commonly Known As The Three T’s
Three T’s stand for Tibet, Taiwan, and Tiananmen Square. Taiwan and Tibet are two regions always on the papers for various issues. These two regions are fighting for their independence from Chinese rule. On the other hand, Tiananmen Square is the venue where thousands of deaths occurred in 1989 during a large democratic movement. Since Chinese students are very nationalistic, you are safer staying clear of these three T’s. These topics are better handled by the local teachers and therefore there are no chances that you will have to handle a lesson on them.
Don’t Talk of Facebook, Pinterest or Twitter
The Chinese government has blocked most social media sites that operate worldwide like Facebook and Twitter. Your students probably don’t know of these sites. However, there are Chinese social media sites like QQ and Weibo. Bottom Line It is always good to travel to a place that you know two or three things about. This helps you settle easily with or without help. As you prepare to go to teach English in China, be mindful of these dos and don’ts so that you can set to live in China smoothly.