What to expect in your first month teaching English in China


Juliane Witte

It is officially happening. You are really going to teach English in China! But where do you start? What will the first days be like? Who will you meet? Here are a few things to expect in your first month teaching English in China.

Are you teaching your first class straight from the plane? Of course not. One of the first things you will experience in China is your training. Initially you will go through an extensive onboarding process that will set you up perfectly for living in China. We will let you know what apps you might need, what agent to reach out to for apartment viewings and you will get a rundown of the basic health and safety rules. From there, you will be introduced to the curriculum and best practices in the classroom. And this is where it gets really exciting, since the next step is starting at your own centre! At your centre you will not merely get to know your colleagues (more on that later), you will also get to see the classrooms, interactive whiteboards and all the other ESL goodness for yourself. Whether it is co-teaching with another teacher or observing their classes, you will be given the chance to settle in and get set up before teaching your own first classes. Don’t worry if you feel a little overwhelmed at times, especially if you’ve never taught before! You are stepping into a completely new field, so take advantage of the resources around you!

TIP: Make sure to pay attention during your training and ask for help or feedback if you need it.

You might be expecting to be all on your own initially, but this is far from true. In your first month teaching English in China you are going to meet an astounding amount of interesting people! Whether it is the people in the same onboarding group as you or your co-teachers at your centre, there will be people in a similar situation as yourself everywhere. They will know exactly what you are feeling, whether it is nerves, excitement or a combination of the two.

TIP: Make sure to get to know the people around you since they will be there for you throughout your stay in China, whether it is in the classroom or during Christmases, birthdays and dinners!

No matter how cliché it sounds, these people have the potential to become your second (international) family and can help you with whatever hurdle you might face. They will be from all kinds of English-speaking countries and different parts of China so you may initially need to get used to different mannerisms or ways of living but that is a great learning experience as well.

And then there is China itself. You are here to teach English, but you are also here to explore a different country and culture. But how do you do that? Initially you may be surprised at how straightforward some aspects of living in China are. Whether it is commuting to work or meeting up with friends centrally, you can get anywhere with public transport and a good translation app on your phone. You’ll find familiar brands from home almost anywhere, most street signs are in English as well as Chinese, and so are the metro stops. You might get lost occasionally, but even that can lead to finding the perfect dumpling spot. Since some of your initial experiences in China might feel quite familiar, some of the other aspects might surprise you, whether it is certain local habits, the experience of being a foreigner for the first time or just how spicy some Chinese food can be! Within your first few weeks, though, you will find yourself and apartment and begin exploring your own neighborhood. Before you know it your first month will be up and you will be practically settled in. Well, settled in enough for the real adventure to begin!

TIP: Don’t be afraid to get lost. China is super safe and the perfect place to for unusual and fun experiences.

Your first month teaching English in China will fly by, full of learning moments and unexpected experiences. If you follow the tips above and prepare yourself for the unexpected, you will be all set to succeed not only in the classroom but also in China.

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