The Pros and Cons of Teaching English to Adults in China
Maybe you’ve already been teaching English for a few years and you’re ready to make a big step forward: you want to start teaching adults, and you want to do it in China. Maybe you’re a complete newbie in this profession, but you already feel ready for that big move. Whatever the case is, you’ll be faced with two big challenges: teaching English to adults, and doing it in China.
Marissa Maroon, an educational expert from EduGeeksClub, shares her own experience: “The best thing about teaching English in China is that you don’t need any special qualifications. You just need a TEFL certification, which is not hard to get if you know your English. You also need at least two years of working experience after university, but they don’t specify the type of experience you need. With the crazy competition on the international job market, China becomes an interesting challenge, to say the least.”
Yes; it’s an interesting challenge, but this is not an easy decision to make. Your mind is probably filled with doubts. Our list of pros and cons will help you make the final decision.
The Pros of Teaching English to Adults in China
The Cost of Living in China Is Reasonably Low
When compared to the cost of living in the USA, UK, Sweden, Germany, and other countries of the western world, the cost of living in China is considerably lower. When compared to France, for example, the cost of living in China is 44.53% lower. The cost of living index is highest in Shanghai – 53.15. Compare that with the cost of living index in New York (100.00), and everything becomes clear.
So maybe your salary won’t be impressive. In USD, the monthly earnings of TEFL qualified teachers in China range from $1500 to $3300. That salary, however, will cover most of your expenses, and you’ll live comfortably with it. You’ll even have a great saving potential since the food and accommodation expenses are pretty low.
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2. Teaching Adults Is Easier than Teaching Children
If you’ve ever tried teaching children, you know how challenging the process is. It may be easier for them to learn a second language, but they are certainly hard to discipline and motivate. You have to think of crazy games and activities to encourage them to learn when they are not even aware they are learning.
When you’re dealing with adults, you’ll be teaching via lectures and discussions. Some level of gamification will be involved, but you won’t have to worry too much about that. Chinese people are quite disciplined learners. If you’ve ever met a Chinese student in a foreign university, you probably got the feeling they were very intelligent and committed to their studies. That is absolutely true as a general impression.
You won’t have to try too hard to discipline these students. Most of them attend English classes because they want to. Your efforts will be focused on motivation, not discipline. You just need to explain why English is important for their professional and personal growth, and you’ll have their attention.
3. China Is Absolutely Breathtaking
It’s cities… well, it’s a matter of preference. If you like busy environments and you don’t mind the rush, you’ll love living in a Chinese city.
But the cities are not where the beauty of China lies. It’s all about its mysterious nature and distant communities that call for exploration. You’ll get a chance to see some of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth.
Plus, the Great Wall. This country’s history will blow you away.
The Cons of Teaching English to Adults in China
1. You Probably Don’t Speak Chinese, And Your Students Probably Won’t Speak Any English
If you don’t speak Chinese and you face a full room of students who don’t understand a word in English, you’ll be in a tricky situation. This means you’ll have to take some basic lessons in Chinese before you head off to China, so you better start preparing ASAP.
The good thing about this is that as your students learn English from you, you’ll be learning Chinese from them. It’s a double win!
2. It’s Hard to Encourage Chinese Adults to Discussions
You’re coming from an educational system that’s largely based on encouraging discussions. You’ve been taught that you learn more by asking questions and speaking up. Well, Chinese people are not used to that type of learning. Their educational system was based on lectures, so they will address you quite formally and they won’t be willing to enter discussions.
It’s a completely different approach to teaching. You may try to change it, but you have to address that the formal attitude towards teachers is deeply cultural among Chinese people.
3. It’s Harder for Adults to Learn a Foreign Language
The Chinese language is very unique. When someone has been speaking only Chinese for their entire life, they have little understanding of the nature of foreign languages. You’ll struggle there. Your students will not be that good with pronunciation, and memorization will be hard for them.
In general, adults have greater difficulties to master a foreign language when compared to children. That’s a fact and you’ll have to deal with it, but the good news is that Chinese adults are willing to learn.
4. Pollution Is a Real Issue
China is a beautiful country. You’ll have an opportunity to explore unspoiled nature. The cities, however, are a different story. The air is highly polluted, and all those pictures of people wearing masks on the streets are not staged. It’s the reality.
Still, China is a huge country and not all of it is polluted. Be very careful and take the pollution factor into consideration when choosing the location for your teaching position.
Are You Ready for This Experience?
Will the advantages prevail? If you’re ready to take on a great experience, China will impress you. The adults are good learners, and they will welcome you with great respect. Still, you have to be aware of the challenges, so you can prepare to overcome them before they hit you. Hopefully, the list above will take you to the right decision.