As an expat in China, I suffered from a lot of culture shock initially so I’m really surprised to find myself writing this blog today.
But, like many people have said, it all depends on the perspective you take.
After doing some reflection recently, I came up with these 10 reasons why teaching English in China is better than working in the UK.
1. No more bloody customers!
I spent five years on the ‘front line’ in the UK doing jobs involving direct contact with customers and it was a nightmare.
My customers didn’t like following established company procedures, had no consideration for anyone except themselves and were very quick to complain.
In one of the jobs I had in the UK, the staff turnover was about 50% in four years and even some of our managers had to take months off work due to stress.
In contrast, as a foreign teacher in China (provided you choose your school carefully), you will get respectful and well-behaved students.
2. No more office bullies
We all know the office bully, some nosy know-it-all who thinks that they can tell us how to do our jobs. The worst bullies might even report you to your boss if you ignore their ‘instructions’.
This creates a toxic work environment where everyone is stabbing each other in the back. This is not uncommon in the UK.
You can find plenty of office bullies in the UK, but not while teaching in China, according to teacher Kim.
As a foreign teacher in China, you’ll largely be working on your own. You’ll have your own classes and your own subjects.
3. Lots of academic freedom
Any British teacher will know exactly how much bureaucracy there is in the education system in the UK, with many government guidelines, policies and inspections to deal with.
In a Chinese classroom, you’ll experience a degree of freedom that you’d never have thought possible.
As long as you don’t discuss sex, religion and politics, and provided your students don’t complain about you, you’re free to do anything you like in class (within reason, obviously!).
4. You can make money renting out your house/flat back home
If you’re lucky enough to be a homeowner, then you can earn extra money renting out your house whilst in China.
Renting out your flat back home is another reason why teaching in China is better than working in the UK, says teacher Kim.
5. The culture in China’s education system can make life very easy for a teacher
I’m very surprised to find myself writing this now because initially I suffered from quite a lot of culture shock in China. One of the things that annoyed me was the fact that teachers are not allowed to fail students.
But if you go along with this system instead of trying to fight it, it actually reduces your workload because you can just arbitrarily assign grades to your students and no-one would ever know.
6. The UK job market sucks but China’s TEFL market is booming
I was made redundant in 2009 as a result of the global financial crisis. The employment situation in the UK was so bad that I couldn’t get a job for four years.
China, on the other hand, is the world’s largest TEFL market. There are thousands of schools requiring EFL teachers in China.
7. Chinese girls
Foreigners are a novelty in China.
It is easy for a white, male foreigner to find a girlfriend here. It was not even that difficult for a British Chinese like myself.
There are two things to be mindful of: never date your students and, if you do find love, you’ll need to have the money to buy property in China to marry a Chinese girl.
Although Chinese girls are materialistic, they are loyal and supportive too.
Chinese girls are loyal and supportive, according to teacher Kim.
8. It’s a good career choice for those with a disability
I contracted hydrocephalus (water on the brain) as a baby. As a result, I don’t have many of the skills necessary for work in the UK, such as creativity, problem-solving skills and the ability to deal with abstract situations.
However, for a native English speaker who loves teaching, TEFL was a great career choice.
Although some degree of creativity is necessary to effectively engage your students, there are many teaching ideas available online and your colleagues and students can be great sources of ideas too.
I've written a blog specifically about teaching in China with a disability.
9. You’ll be having a great adventure and be the envy of all your friends
How many of your friends would be able to say that they’ve lived and worked abroad? Not many, I bet.
Teaching in China is full of ups and downs, beautiful scenery, exotic food, culture shocks, challenges, rewards and even romance.
Posting photos, news and blogs on Facebook from China has been really fascinating for all my friends and family.
10. The cost of living in China is very low
People like to complain that the salary of a TEFL teacher in China is low. In comparison to British wages, it is, but foreign teachers in China are usually paid at least double what their Chinese counterparts are.
With free accommodation thrown in, it’s a good deal. Everything is also very cheap in China.
What’s not to like about that?
Do you agree that teaching English in China is better than working in the UK? Have your say below.