Is Teaching Hard?

Is Teaching English in China hard?

Teaching in China can be the most difficult job that you’ve ever had while also being the easiest job that you’ll ever come across. It’s all up to how you approach the work itself.

Let me first give a completely unrelated example:

I used to be a cross country runner. From middle school to high school, all the way through college I ran long distance. When I was in middle school, I really didn’t care how well I did. I usually just stopped and walked whenever I felt like it in practice, I didn’t care about the results . Then one day, I decided that to actually run (aka give a shit) and it turned out I wasn’t so bad. I started to care, and I started to work hard, and found that while the sport was rewarding, it was also as difficult as any sport could be.

Like cross country, teaching English in China is as difficult as you make it.

So lets get down to the basics:

Is the work itself difficult?

This is were the whole cross country analogy comes into play. If you care about how well you teach, it can be difficult, if you don’t give a shit, then it can be incredibly easy. Before we dive into this, I want to mention that if you are moving to China to help young people learn a language that can be both beneficial to their careers and helpful for their social lives then you should definitely consider caring about their learning experience.

Why is it difficult?

  • * The English language is massive and incredibly tough to “cover”
  • * Slang and regional accents really throw off foreign learners
  • * Managing a classroom can sometimes be a nightmare
  • * If you care about editing writing, it can be very difficult to translate their English into good English
  • * Learning a language is all about interaction, and getting students to properly follow through with role-plays and dialogues can require some serious skills.

Is it difficult to communicate to students?

This will depend on what kinds of students you have.

The younger + lower level students will be difficult to communicate with, but they’re going to be so damn cute that it wont really matter. On top of that, you’ll have very little pressure coming from any direction to actually teach them anything.

The older + lower level students are a different situation completely. They might have high standards. They might be socially awkward. They might have been told that you were an amazing teacher and you’d definitely make them fluent within the next 2 months. Basically, they have expectations, and you need to make sure tou have a way to communicate with them to be on the same page before you start out.

Either way, most schools worth their weight are going to provide a teaching asssistant. This is going to be a Chinese English teacher that speaks both languages and can help with any technical translations. If you don’t speak Chinese and think language could be and issue, make sure to check about this before you agree to any contracts.

The higher level students in general are just going to be easy to communicate with. If they made it this far then they probably have a passion for English. Do what you can to encourage that passion and be friendly with them both inside and outside of the classroom.

What do work hours look like?

Here’s a tough question to answer because it will depend a lot on the differnece between schools. Especially the differnce between Private vs. Public schools in China . But let’s do what we can to make it simple right here:

  • University teachers spend less time teaching and more time grading papers. They’re more free on the weekend and get an awesome paid vacation twice a year.
  • Private English Teachers with a training center are crazy-busy during the weekends and usually need to teach 3 days of the “work-week”. They get 2 random days off during the week (not weekends).
  • Public School Teachers (elemenrary – high school) are going to be busy Mon-Fri bu free on the weekends. They may or may not need to grade papers.