If you plan on teaching English in China, here are some things that are good to know.
Understand the Different Culture. Chinese employees tend to obey their bosses and don’t make waves at work. People in China also have huge respect for teachers. This means students show up ready and willing to learn (however, they’ll be even happier if you fit some games into your lesson plans!). Frequent schedule changes are a part of life here. If you are planning on teaching in China, you should be aware of this fact and keep it in mind when making plans. Visitors to the country should also be aware that Chinese people do find westerners very intriguing and may even try to take your picture, especially if you are traveling through small towns.
Get the Preliminaries Out of the Way. Having a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate is a key component to finding a good job in a reputable school. In order to get a residence permit and work visa, which are necessary to stay in the country for long periods of time, you must be a certified English teacher. Working with a recruiter to find a job tends to be the easiest and safest way of finding a decent position before leaving home. However, you can always try your luck by either turning up and conducting your own ‘in country’ search or working for a large company with plenty of positive online reviews. You’ll still need to know where you want to teach and what type of school setting will work best for you.
Find Ways to Communicate. Learning a few basic phrases in Mandarin, Cantonese, or the local dialect of where you are staying certainly won’t go amiss. This can help build rapport with your students. However, when out and about, you will find many Chinese people don’t speak much (if any) English. Translation apps can help bridge the communication gap. Of course, taking language classes yourself is another good way to help understand what’s going on around you. It’s also smart to carry a card with your apartment or your destination in Chinese characters so that the locals you meet can easily understand where you are trying go.
Know What to Bring Along. Makeup, beauty products, and personal hygiene items are all priced higher in China than they are in the west so it’s a good idea to bring a decent supply with you. You’ll also want to bring along a winter coat, sunscreen, hand sanitizer, deodorant, and a decent selection of clothes that will be suitable for the climate where you are headed. You can find a lot of helpful teacher-related materials online, so there’s no real need to bring books and teaching resources.
Good luck and happy travels!