So you have decided to come to China and acquire some teaching skills! It could be teaching English to Chinese, or translating in the business setting. Although teaching can be a demanding job, it is not all work and no play. While teaching, you can engage yourself in a more relaxed manner so you can take advantage of a more rewarding cultural, travel and culinary experience while in China.
Here are some ideas that can make your teaching experience and life in China an excellent opportunity.
Chinese and western education systems do not vary all that much. All Chinese children get primary as well as middle school education and classes usually last 35 minutes. What differs is costs. Typically, primary and middle school are typically free, but high school educations have small costs.
The number of private schools for the wealthier is growing in China, and the number of private international schools is also on the rise. Foreigners do have to pay for their education, notwithstanding the level or type of school they attend.
As far as other similarities go, to be able to enter a university, Chinese high school students have to take a National University Entrance Examination. This exam is known as “gaokao,” and is similar to the SAT in the US. The school hours in China are practically the same as elsewhere, although some schools hold special classes in science and math on Saturdays.
The Chinese school curriculum reads more or less the same as anywhere else. The difference is noticeable in the teaching methodology, where the focus can be on Chinese studies, math and technical sciences and prep for all the different level entrance exams.
After school activities are not so widespread yet, but are developing. The same goes for team sports.
So, as far as an adaptation to the school system goes, that should not pose much of a problem. The perceived differences can be overcome easily over a short amount of time.
The first gain can come from exactly those differences. Learning and comparing them, a prospective teacher can see exactly what he can apply as invaluable in his later professional teaching career.
Have in mind, for example, that the English schooling system brought in some Chinese teachers to England to raise the quality of math and science studies, and the results have proven beneficial.
The second gain, of course, is experiencing China itself in its all cultural and economic aspects. There always lies a possibility that the acquired knowledge and experience can lead to a more rewarding and lucrative educational experience in China or elsewhere.
Now the fun begins!
The key principle seems to lie in using the most efficient sources and resources. In teaching the English language, those resources lie in exploring and utilizing English movies of all genres. This is not only perfect for honing the language skills, but digging deeper into the interests of the students.
The opportunities to enrich your experiences during your stay in China are enormous. Usually, most of the time the organizer of your stay in China will have a set of programs to offer so that you can successfully combine your professional with your personal experiences. In China, those can be fun. Here are some possibilities that you usually have a chance to experience:
– Travel to explore China further – The vastness of China as a country and the cultural diversity it offers are great to explore. Exploration can be done during school holidays, or during weekends, cultural, historical and other riches of China. You might even fall in love with a certain place where you would like to continue your Chinese teaching adventure.
– Developing your Chinese cooking skills – Chinese culinary delight are usually one of the things that attract a lot of foreigners to China. During this time, you can develop your cooking skills. Wherever you locate yourself in China, you can specialize in regional delicacies. The diversity of Chinese cooking allows you to acquire a variety of skills, but also enjoy the food itself.
– Learning Tai Chi and other Chinese martial arts – Tai Chi is an excellent way to exercise and keep yourself healthy. Tai Chi is also very much related to Chinese medicine and acupuncture, something you might also wish to explore.
– Music, film, dance and other festivals – the level of quality of music, film, dance and other art festivals organized, throughout China all year long is very high. Whether it is an event showcasing solely Chinese artists, or if it is an international event in its scope, it is almost certain that you will have an unforgettable experience.
– Chinese movies – You will probably have the chance to experience Chinese films in two ways. First, the organizers of your stay usually prepare special movie nights that include a screening of the films with an introduction, and possibly a discussion afterward. This is an excellent way not only to learn about the films themselves but have an additional view of the Chinese culture. Of course, you can always venture to a local movie theater with your colleges.
– Learning traditional Chinese board games – A lot of prospective teachers in China have heard of Mahjong, traditional Chinese board game, also known throughout the world. Among other traditional Chinese board games, known and played from ancient times until today are Weiqi and Xiangqi. These intricate strategy and solitaire games can present hours of fun, even in the process of learning how to play them.
– Traditional Chinese Origami – You have probably been in contact with some form of Chinese handicrafts. Usually, people from other cultures are amazed at the details they present and wonder how they were made. This could present an excellent opportunity for you to learn such crafts as miniature sculpture painting, sculpting, kite making, paper cutting or Chinese knotting. You can probably develop your skill to the level that you can present your handiwork as gifts!
– Chinese fireworks – While in China, it is almost certain you will have a chance to experience a showcase of Chinese fireworks. Don’t miss it! Chinese fireworks are certainly best known in the world and represent a hefty part in Chinese exports. But, some of the fireworks that you can experience in China, most definitely cannot be encountered anywhere else.
– Sports events – Some of the major world sports, like soccer and basketball, have reached world class in China. The top Chinese teams in those sports particularly now know to attract some of the major stars from all around the world. This might be one of your better chances to see them in action.
– Chinese circus shows – If you ever tried, anywhere else in the world, to see a show of a visiting Chinese circus, exhibiting particularly the unbelievable skills of Chinese acrobats, you would probably be out of luck. That is why on your teaching tenure in China it might be your only opportunity to do so.
– Chinese opera and theater – Another set of experiences for which you would probably have no luck of acquiring a ticket somewhere else in the world. As with the movie experience, your organizers will probably offer an organized visit that would provide you with additional information that can further your experience and enjoyment.
There is, of course, a long list of other forms of entertainment specific to Chinese culture and lifestyle that is too long to be presented here, but offering entertainment that can not only be fun but also further your understanding of China. Some of which intertwine with forms of entertainment in other cultures.
For example, an explicitly Chinese experience would be a visit to Chinese hot springs and wellness treatments that are offered there. While on the other hand, something that would be compatible with something offered in other cultures but is popular in China is laser-tag games.
If you take another look at what is offered as a combination of teaching and having fun in China, it is obvious that you are presented with a unique opportunity to learn, present, and experience something unique. This can at the same time advance your professional teaching career as well as further your knowledge of a new culture and a style of life.
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