Going Abroad to Teach English: Teaching in China

teaching esl english in china

Moving to another country to study is one of the best experiences a student can undertake. It’s a culturally enriching, breathtaking experience.

That’s why I did it.

But something that not many students who choose to study abroad think about doing is actually teaching abroad. There are countless schools all across the world that are looking for competent English teachers to teach students all the way from grade school to high school. There are so many schools, in fact, you basically have the pick of the litter when it comes to city, country, geographical region, climate, etc.

One of the most popular areas to teach English abroad currently in Mainland China. You might wonder, how to teach English in Baotou or another Chinese city, and the answer couldn’t be simpler.

There are lots of different recruiting companies that partner with local schools within a region to locate and place qualified teachers into a community. All of the leg work is done by the recruiting company. You just fill out their form and away you go. If you want to know how to teach English in Hangzhou, China just ask the recruiting company if they work with any schools in this city or the surrounding areas.

What to Expect When Applying to Teach Abroad

As I said above, schools aren’t just looking for anyone to teach English to their students. They are seeking qualified, professional applicants.

This isn’t a job that just anyone can get, as there are a number of standardized tests that must be taken in order to qualify. The tests seek to measure your knowledge of the language and measure your proficiency in English, which is to be expected after all. You’re applying to be an English teacher.

Another thing that many recruitment offices prefer is native English speakers. These applicants tend to have a more thorough grounding in the language and are better communicators than those who English is their second language.

Are These Positions Paid?

The best part about teaching abroad is—yes, you guessed it—you get paid to do it. While most study abroad programs require you to pay, teaching abroad programs actually pay you. How much better can that get? You get the experience of staying in a foreign country, experience new cultures, and you not only do you not have to pay a dime, but you actually get paid to do it!

When you look at it from this perspective, you really need to ask yourself, why am I not looking into how to teach English in Nanjing.

I definitely would not trade my time teaching abroad for anything.

My Advice and Conclusion

Don’t get me wrong, teaching abroad is not for everyone. But then again, neither is studying abroad. I, personally, think it is something that everyone should do at least once in his or her lifetime, but I get it, some people just don’t have what it takes.

But before you go thinking that teaching sounds like too much work, just remember that you will also be working and studying if you study abroad. You will still be taking classes and doing work, so why not get paid for it?

Moving Abroad Part II


In my last post, I talked about some of my initial observations from moving and living abroad. Well, it got me thinking and I have a few more things I’d like to share. But while the last post was mostly focused on things to consider when you’re moving abroad, this post is more about what I first noticed when I moved to Madrid.

One of the first things that I noticed when moving to Madrid was the sheer age of the city. The city and its surrounding areas are very old. They aren’t old in the sense that they are run down, they are just very old. They have been around for a while. Something that very few Americans think of before traveling abroad is just how old things in Europe and other countries really are. After all, there is a reason why they call the Americas “The New World.”

Madrid was founded in the 9th century. Now contrast that to America’s founding of 1776. Obviously there were English settlements in America before the founding of the United States, but even Jamestown was only founded in 1607, making it only 400 years old. This puts cities like Madrid a full 600 years older than the older British settlement in America, making it more than twice as old. Taking tours of Madrid’s finest building will have you looking at architecture that is sometimes a thousand years old. There is literally nothing in the United States that is this old, illustrating just how remarkable the experience is. The history is incredibly rich and ripe for exploration.

If you are at all a history buff, even the most passive of one, living abroad is an absolute delight. Europe obviously has been the center of much of the last 400-500 years of history. It has had two world wars, countless revolutions, and sprawling imperialistic conquests.

Madrid was the capital of the former Spanish empire throughout the middle ages and has so much to explore.

As you consider where you want to start your career and what exactly it is that you want to pursue, I strongly encourage anyone to take a trip abroad. You may end up loving it so much that you stay there just like me. And it’s not at all a bad experience. You end up meeting new people, people you would have never otherwise met. You gain an international perspective of the world and you get to live in Europe!

A way that I describe Europe to some of my friends stateside (although my European friends don’t like it when I say this, so don’t tell them ;]) is that Europe is basically like the United States except instead of having different states under the same federal government they are all independent countries. If you look at the entire continent of Europe it is 10 million square kilometers and the United States is 9.6 million square kilometers. It is also composed of 50 countries while the United States is composed of 50 states. The only difference is there are a lot more languages spoken in Europe than the United States, which can get really difficult to get used to and the American in me still finds somewhat inefficient.

Moving Abroad: Initial Thoughts and Observations

Study_Abroad-300x121As I have said time and time again, both on the blog and elsewhere, making the decision to move abroad and to relocate myself in Madrid was one of the best decisions I think I have ever made. It set my life on an entirely new trajectory that I would have never been able to reach otherwise. But with that said, there are a few caveats to relocating yourself across the globe and anyone looking to do so needs to seriously consider a number of important questions before making the journey. Today I want to go over some of these considerations to help anyone thinking of moving make the right decision.

The first and most important question that you need to ask yourself is, “Are you the type of person to move abroad?” Moving abroad is not a decision you make lightly. There are some serious shifts in culture and lifestyle that you need to take into consideration and you need to evaluate whether or not you are the kind of person who is okay with these kinds of changes. For example, moving abroad can be very uncertain. You will find yourself in an entirely new city, country, region, and getting in touch with a network of friends and activities can be difficult at first. If you are the person who values stability over the uncertainty of change, maybe moving abroad isn’t the right choice for you.

A second question that you need to ask yourself is, “Are you willing to invest the time and effort into moving abroad?” Beyond the obviously time involved in physically packing up your belongings and moving, there actually is quite a lot of effort involved in relocating yourself abroad. For instance, while many countries across the globe speak English as a secondary language, it is not the native tongue to many places around the world. In moving to a new country, you will need to also learn the language—or at least enough of it to pass through everyday interaction with people and your coworkers. I’m not saying that you will need to become the Hemingway of that language, but you will need to learn the basics of it and be able to communicate fluently.

The same thing goes for the culture in your new region. This was probably one of the biggest shocks when I moved to Madrid, the incredible culture shock from living in America. While some of my Spanish friends understood me being an American, as they had lived briefly in America, not all countries are so willing to understand where you come from. You will want to make sure you aren’t violating any cultural taboos while you express your Americanism in public. For example, in America everyone wears tennis shoes all the time. In Spain and many other European countries, people wear dress shoes even when going around casually. Now it isn’t considered taboo to wear tennis shoes in public or while going to the movies, but you can bet that you’ll be singled out as the only American around for doing so!