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What is your life like?
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Joined: 12 Mar 2014
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Mar 25, 2014 5:00 pm    Post subject: What is your life like? Reply with quote

Hello everybody,

Well this is my first time posting on these boards. I have recently returned from a year-long study abroad trip in Chengdu and loved it so much that I want to return after I graduate to teach English. I just wanted to get an idea of what life is like teaching English in China.

Here are some questions I have:

1) How many hours do you work? How many of these are class hours and how many are office hours? What is your work schedule like? Is it nice or does it suck?

2) What kind of place do you work at? University? Elementary school? Do you do private tutoring or teach your own private classes? How big are your classes? Do you have a lot of freedom or do they determine your curriculum? Do you prefer to design your own lessons or have them planned for you? Is your job high pressure or low pressure? Do you enjoy your job? Is it stressful? How long does it take you to prepare for classes?

3) What are the students like? What age group do you prefer to teach? Why? Are the students generally enthusiastic about learning English? What is your relationship with the students like? Is it strictly student/teacher or do you form friendships with your students? What are the students' attitudes toward their foreign teachers?

4) How much do you get paid? How much do you save/spend? How much do you think it would be possible to save in a year? Is it easy to save a lot?

5) What is your living situation? Is your housing payed for? Is it near your workplace? If you pay for your own housing how much do you pay? Do you have a roommate? What size city do you live in (if willing to share, what city do you live in)? What is the weather like? What do you do for fun? Are you happy with your living situation?

6) What are the Chinese is in your area like? Friendly? Rude? Do you have many Chinese friends, or mostly just hang out with foreigners?

7) What do you eat? How expensive is the food? Do you usually cook or eat out? About how much do you spend on food in a month?

8 ) Overall, how do you feel about your life in China? What are the best aspects? Worst aspects? Are you happy? How long have you stayed/do you plan to stay in China? Would you recommend teaching English in China?

9) Anything else you think is worth sharing?

I know it's a lot of questions, and you don't have to answer all of them, but I just want to get an overall idea of what teaching English in China would be like and it would be great if you could all share!

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Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 923
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 5:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm having a great time. I work in a uni, make good money, and half plenty of free time. I won't answer your questions directly, because I'm about to go and teach, but I think if you dig around in this and other forums you'll find a lot of the answers already there. Whatever you learn, remember that your experience will be exactly that, yours. Life is what you make of it.

Good luck and have fun.
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Joined: 08 Jun 2013
Posts: 428

PostPosted: Wed Mar 26, 2014 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Similar to doogsville.

As mentioned most of the stuff has been discussed in depth countless times which is the reason probably for the lack of replies.

Regardless....I'd say I'm a solid 8/10 on the happiness-relaxation scale and around a 3/10 on the pay scale. The second one however is my choice. I've turned down a couple of private gigs this week and could very easily sign on for some 16k a month Wall Street English type job at the end of this contract and top the pay up even further with overtime, but no doubt that would pull down my the number in my first rating.

The beauty of the ESL environment in China is your living standards are entirely up to you. Want to live in a fancy futuristic apartment in Pudong, or some bamboo hut in the jungle? - your choice. Want to work 8 hours a week, or 80 hours a week? - your choice. Make 4,000rmb a month, or 40,000rmb a month? - your choice. The key is about finding the balance - that middle ground, because too extreme in any category frankly blows.

I'm happy to stay here as long as the Chinese government visa bureaucrazy allows and my health holds out - perhaps 5~10 more years.
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Joined: 30 Dec 2009
Posts: 738
Location: Chengdu

PostPosted: Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


I'm bored and have a few turds (students) picking their noses and staring at me in my office, so, with that in mind.. now is the perfect time to write!

I work at a primary school in Chengdu, I live in the outskirts of the city, so no real Western comforts around here, have to stick to noodle places and meat on a stick joints that usually will give you a case of the swamp ass.

My salary is similar to a university teacher, as I only teach "20" classes a week, aka, one week I teach 18 and the next I teach 14, and the classes are only 40 minutes long. I work Monday to Friday from 8-430 and most of the time I am sitting in the office picking my nose and playing video games and/or studying Chinese.

Sometimes you are lucky and will have some good Chinese co-workers like myself who will want to come by and cook with you together every day, just like me, so what happens is we end up saving money. One person buys, the other cooks, the other cleans, etc.

Also, with the idea of me living in the outskirts of the city in mind, I am the only foreigner in my area, I get stared at quite often, but if you don't mind that, then it can be a good time around here. Loads of people giving me free booze/meals, and students inviting me over to eat at their apartments, so it's good times!

I save quite a bit of money because of my lifestyle, but if I do splurge and take a taxi downtown and go out for a night on the town, I can easily blow through 3-500 RMB which is quite huge for one night on our salary.

My school gives me free breakfasts and lunch, so I save a good chunk of money. I pull out 1000 RMB a month and try not to spend more than that, but if I have a wild night out or go visit friends downtown for a western meal then I go through closer to 1500 a month. So, each month I can save about 4000ish, and if I wasn't so damn lazy I could go downtown and get some extra work and make about 2000 RMB extra a month for about 2 days extra of work a week, but again.. I am too lazy. I rather just tutor students who live closer to me, but I have only been here for a month, so like everyone else says, with time more opportunity comes, and I feel pretty happy here.

I could write more, but I don't know what else to add, except for the fact that you asked about the locals.. well, that's going to vary. If you are in a big city they'll stare at you but be more discreet. In my neck of the woods people stare and I can hear "laowai" quite often, so, if that doesn't bother you then hit up a tier 2 city. (Tier 1 cities are easier for picking up chicks if that's your thing).

Anywho, if you have anymore questions, let me know!

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Joined: 12 Mar 2014
Posts: 56

PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 10:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the replies everyone! I'm sure that most of this information has been discussed before, and I have dug around the forums searching for answers, but with over 200 pages, and no way to navigate to specific pages, it's quite tedious. I also haven't had much look finding the information I'm looking for.

I just thought it might be convenient to have all of this information in one thread so people can get a good "at a glance" idea of what teaching English in China is like, without having to dredge through the 200+ pages of discussion on here.
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Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:59 am    Post subject: vocational school Reply with quote

1) My schedule is actually crazy light as I work at a vocational school and they only want me to teach the English majors. In the fall I taught 9 hours a week and this semester I'm teaching 4.5 hours a week. My classes are 90 mins long so this semester, I just have 3 classes. At the beginning of the year, my school mentioned that maybe I should be in the office when not working, at a total of 25 hours a week. I mostly did this in the fall, but it got really boring because I only have to plan one lesson per I just stopped showing up as much to the office. My work schedule is quite nice although to be honest I often feel pretty bored.

2) I work at a Chinese vocational school so it's high school level. No private tutoring on the side, my classes are max 48. I have absolute freedom which was a little overwhelming at first, but I've found it's quite easy to plan lessons. I plan my own lessons and don't have to submit them to anyone...I don't have books either, so I just use the internet for ideas and my imagination. At the beginning of the semester I planned out a course plan for each week's topic and some ideas for activities. So it usually takes me less than an hour each week to plan my lesson bc I have a template doc I fill in to keep myself organized. Sometimes it takes longer if I have to find videos or do fancy PPT stuff. It's pretty low pressure, I definitely hold myself to a much higher standard than my school does. I really enjoy it and it's not too stressful unless my students are being antsy or tired in class.

3) The students are great. They are teenagers, mostly girls. Most of them are pretty enthusiastic about learning English or they at least tolerate me. I only teach the English majors though, so that greatly contributes to that. I'm friendly with the students because I'm a young female and they like to QQ me/take pictures together after class. But despite the fact that they're only a few years younger than me, there is definitely a maturity difference and I wouldn't say I'm good friends with any of them. They all seem to love foreign teachers (or at least the idea of them!).

4) I get paid a standard uni salary of 5k a month, with apartment/3 meals a day provided. I live in a tier 2 city but it would be possible to save quite a bit by only eating the school cafeteria food and not traveling, but that would be quite boring. I'm only in China for a year though, so I'm spending money on traveling to cities I want to see...just in case I don't make it back to China for a while. I admit I also spend too much money on drinking and Western food when I hangout with my expat friends.

5) I live on campus in an office they converted to an "apartment". 5 minute walk across campus to my office/classes. My school pays for utilities/everything, no roommate. I live in Wuxi, pretty sure it's a tier 2. Weather is cold in the winter and hot in the summer/fall with a few weeks of moderate temps in the fall/spring. I have lots of expat friends and we typically will go to dinner and also get drinks. I also try to visit a new place in Wuxi every weekend on Saturday- a tourist attraction, a museum, a temple, a park, etc. There's a lot of things to do here so that's pretty great. I love the city and mostly love my living situation (no burner so I can't cook though).

6) I would say they're mostly friendly and very helpful if I ever ask strangers for help. I have some Chinese friends, but I usually hangout with them in a group of foreigners/Chinese. No one at my school really wanted to be my friend because they're all older/have babies but I've still managed to meet some Chinese friends at the bars/etc.

7) I could eat Chinese food all day, every day but most of the time I would be eating alone because a lot of my expat friends prefer to eat Western foods. I don't have a hot plate/burner so I can only cook in the I eat out or eat the cafeteria food. Usually I spend 10-20 per dinner meal during the week (getting Chinese/Korean/Japanese takeout) and maybe 30-50 for dinner on the weekends. I eat lunch at my school and don't eat breakfast because it's too early.

8 ) I love my life in China. I have great friends, a great school, great city. Literally the worst aspect is the fact that I can't cook in my apartment. Also that my favorite supermarket next door closed down haha. I'm really happy here so far, I've been here since September. I planned to stay at least one more year (in addition to this first year) but then I received an offer back home in America that I couldn't pass up. I would definitely recommend teaching in China, I've loved it so far.

9) In the two months leading up to coming to China last year, I researched it a lot. I read lots of blogs of expats/teachers living in China, I read about my city, I read about how to teach. I think it's due to being really well-prepared/researched that I've enjoyed living here so much. I haven't really gone through any culture shock and I rarely get annoyed about anything. Maybe that's a personality thing or maybe from just knowing about things in advance. Either way, if you're considering coming to China I would just read a lot about it first.
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Joined: 27 Sep 2013
Posts: 181

PostPosted: Thu Apr 03, 2014 1:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Once you get over the initial euphoria of being in a foreign country, China sucks. Disgusting