Teacher Kim Ooi writing for Hello Teacher!

Updated December 12, 2018
Kim Ooi

Seeing pandas is one of the benefits of teaching in China that no on tells you about

You might already know about some of the main benefits of teaching in China, like airfare reimbursement and free accommodation at some schools.

But let me fill you in on some of the benefits of teaching in China that I really wasn’t expecting.

School trips

If you accept a job at a school in a particularly beautiful part of China, one major benefit of teaching there is that your school may organize sightseeing trips for their teachers.

When I was teaching in Sichuan province for example, my university took their teachers on many trips to places like Chongqing, Chengdu and ancient Langzhong.

Sightseeing opportunities

In addition to school excursions, another advantage of teaching in China is the opportunity to explore a truly beautiful country at your leisure.

China has many famous sights, incredible mountains, historical buildings and cultural events to visit and attend.

I’ve been lucky enough to have visited famous landmarks like the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, the Bund in Shanghai, the Panda Research Base in Chengdu and the Yellow Mountains in Anhui province.

Sightseeing is one of the many benefits of teaching in China

Out the front of the Panda Research Base in Chengdu.

Climbing mountains is another benefit of teaching in China

Yellow Mountains in Anhui.

Hanging out with students

Obviously, this won’t apply if you teach children in China but if you teach adults or university students, you may be invited out by your students.

My students have invited me to play badminton and table tennis with them, for meals out, picnics, outdoor games and to the local KTV (karaoke).

Hanging out with your fellow teachers

In the UK, I rarely socialized with my colleagues. Sometimes this was because I wasn’t in the same age group or because those with families tend not to have time to go out.

TEFL teachers in China usually live on campus with their fellow teachers, or at least close to the school, so it’s easier to hang out with each other.

At my present university, I join my fellow teachers for lunch at a Western restaurant every Friday.

I play chess with another teacher, and sometimes there are cheese and wine parties for me to attend.

One of my colleagues even organizes a regular movie night for his students which he invites other teachers to.

Socializing with teachers is a benefit of teaching abroad

Socializing with fellow teachers in China.

At another university I taught at, teachers would regularly go to a bar or play badminton together or invite each other to their apartments for a party every now and then.

For me, hanging out with my colleagues has been a great benefit of teaching in China.

Attending interesting school activities

Many Chinese schools and universities organize concerts, drama performances and elocution contests which foreign teachers are invited to judge.

If you teach at a university which admits international students, you’ll also get the opportunity to attend things like face-painting activities, interesting cultural festivals and food festivals.

Attending cultural festivals is one of the benefits of teaching in China

An international cultural performance in China.

Halloween parties

China these days seems to be very Americanized.

Chinese people drive on the right-hand side, are obsessed with American culture and basketball, and have a strong preference for American instead of British English.

Consequently, Halloween is widely celebrated among the student community and you’ll get the chance to attend many fancy dress parties.

Note, however, that a ‘party’ in China can mean watching student performances or playing party games.

Corporate and networking events

This is yet another of the many benefits of teaching in China that no one tells you about.

You may be assigned to teach a special course. For example, at my university, the library department organizes the Yale course which is a six-week course designed to broaden students’ international outlook.

When I taught this course, the course manager invited me out to dinner to show how much she appreciated my work.

Your students may also invite you to their English clubs. I was once invited to visit the Maker English Club in Nanjing to give a talk on the benefits of learning English.

Ballroom dancing

Yes, you read that right, ballroom dancing! It’s one of the secret benefits of teaching in China (for me, anyway!).

I’ve been a keen dancer since my teens so I always like it when my students ask me what my hobbies are since they are so unusual.

Once my students became aware of my hobby, I have on several occasions been invited to teach my students dancing at specially organized activities.

I’ve also been invited to attend social dance parties with a number of retired teachers.

Teaching dancing is one of the benefits of teaching in China

Ballroom dancing in China.

English Corners

An English Corner is a regular meeting of a group of English-speaking Chinese people.

They can be found in many cities across China but can be difficult to find out about unless you know someone who goes to one.

Some schools and universities have their own English Corner groups but if yours doesn’t have one, you can always set one up yourself.

At my university, there is an English Corner which meets fortnightly on Friday evenings.

If participating in your school’s English Corner is compulsory per your teaching contract, you may not regard it as one of the benefits of teaching in China but simply as part of your job!

Romance

There are many dating websites in China. If you’re looking for love, joining one is a good way of getting the romantic ball rolling.

It’s quite easy for a male foreigner to find a girlfriend in China because many Chinese women have been brought up to chase foreign men. That’s been my experience dating in China, anyway.

Before you get too carried away, however, be warned that Chinese women take relationships quite seriously and expect their boyfriends to eventually commit to marriage.

If you’re an introvert (like me) you may be worried that you’ll be lonely when you come to teach in China.

Hopefully, after reading this blog, you’ll realize that life is what you make it and that there are plenty of opportunities to have a good social life here – you just have to look for it!

Are there any more benefits of teaching in China that you're aware of? Please share your thoughts below.


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