Myths about Teaching English in China

Recently, through my work, I have been in contact with many institutions in China that are desperately seeking English teachers to work in their schools. These opportunities range from teaching children all the way up to working in universities. At the same time, I know there are many teachers in Canada and the US out there who are looking for jobs abroad; so I couldn't figure out why there is this disconnect between these schools and the abundance of teachers looking for work. So, I decided I'd look deeper into why potential English teachers are not going to China, and these are the assumptions that I have found that are keeping people from going to China:

1. China is too polluted
2. China is not safe
3. Schools will rip you off
4. The pay is too low
5 . There are too many people in China

While there is definitely some validity to some of these assumptions, there is a lot of wrong with them as well. In this blog, I want to examine some of these myths, with the hopes of convincing people that China is a good option when considering going abroad to teach.

China is too polluted
There is without a doubt a lot of truth to this assumption. China is the largest producer of pollution in the world and there are many health risks to living in some areas of China. I can contest to this, as the pollution in some of the places I visited in my last business trip to China, were truly unbelievable. Places that haven't seen a blue sky in years.  That being said, I was actually quite surprised by the lack of pollution in China's biggest city: Shanghai. When I was there last October, there were blue skies everyday and the city did possess more green spaces than I expected. In fact Shanghai has adopted a number of strict measures, along with the completion of it's great subway lines, to fight air pollution. Sure there is still pollution in Shanghai, but in my opinion, similar pollution can be found in Seoul; a place where so many expats live and teach English.

China is not safe
Another commonly held assumption about China is that it isn't safe. This is an interesting statement because it really depends what you are trying to stay safe from. For example, if you are worried about your health you could be worried about pollution, violent crime, traffic incidents, etc. If your worried about material safety, you could be worried about theft, scams, etc. It's really hard to put all of these together to say whether or not a place is safe or not. When I have been there in the past there were definitely things I was concerned about and other things not so much. Here is my breakdown:

Pollution: Not safe in many places, but some are fine (check for more info)
Violent Crime: Safe
Food Safety: So-So. Stick to busy, well-review restaurants and drink bottled water
Traffic Injuries: Dangerous for pedestrians who do not know the Chinese "rules of the road"
Theft / Scams: Safe if you use travel common sense (I've got to write a future article about this) 

There are also many people that are worried about the safety of living in a Communist country. There are definitely rules and laws that you absolutely must adhere to when in China, but for the most part you shouldn't be worried about this.

Schools will rip you off
It's true, some schools may try to rip you off in China...but the same is true anywhere in the world. You've gotta do your research before going to China. Use the internet and try to find people who have worked at your future school. Another good idea is to find a reputable local recruitment agency to work with before choosing to teach in China. Nowadays there is so much info out there that can help you in finding the right job in any country.

The pay is too low
Salaries in China vary greatly. The avg. salary for an English teacher can fall between 8,000 - 14000 RMB ($1200 - $2100),  which can go along way or not be enough depending on the type of person you are. The pay may not be as much as Korea or Japan, but the cost of living is usually lower than those two countries. For info about what you can make in different cities in China, check out this site:

There are too many people in China
This one is hard to debunk as there are approximately 1.3 billion people in China....although, there are so many people in most of the other places people choose to teach English as well. The list below contains some of the most popular places to teach English, and as you can see it's pretty busy there too.

Seoul - 10 Million
Tokyo - 13 Million
Ho Chi Minh - 8. 5 Million
Teipei - 3 Million
Rio de Janeiro - 6.5 Million
Mexico City - 10 Million

Without a doubt there are definitely reasons why people would or would not teach in China. The goal of this article was simply to talk about some of the perceived reasons why China is a bad place to teach English. If you're looking for some good reasons why you should teach in China, please check out the articles below:

If you have taught in China before, please, please, please let me know what you think of this article and please provide your opinions. You can do that in the comment section or on my google+ account


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