Blog 2017-05-23T00:34:10+00:00

Teaching English in China Blog

What are ESOL, EFL, ESL, ESP, and EAP?

Even some English language teachers don't understand the differences between these acronyms so don't feel bad if they confuse you too. When I first started teaching English language classes in public schools in Texas, it was called ESL but since then I've come upon many other acronyms like EFL, ESP, and ELL that provide more distinctions. As English teachers in many different settings, it's important that we can clearly share research and advice so it's important to know the most common acronyms. Here we look at the "E" acronyms. In other articles, I focus on the "T" acronyms . ESOL: English to Speakers of Other Languages is a more comprehensive term that encompasses the learning of English in both a foreign non-English country and the teaching of English in an English-speaking country. One reason why this term was created is because some individuals argue that when students are learning English in an English-speaking country (ESL), these students are not necessarily [...]

Solutions for China’s English Teacher Shortage

Almost two billion people - that's around one in three people - study English as a second language. Where are the English teachers coming from and how can China attract them? The English Proficiency Index by English First released statistics on where English is learned around the world and spoken the best. Note that sadly, China is not in the top 15 even though more people in China study English as their second (or third) language than any other country. However, China is trying. In the past, South Korea was the biggest employers of foreign English teachers but nowadays that honor goes to China. Looking at the English Proficiency Index,  four Nordic countries and the Netherlands are at top of the rankings, with over 65% of their population fluent in English. Other European countries fill up many slots on the list. Surprisingly, the only non-European countries in the top 15 are Singapore, Malaysia, and guess what, Argentina! Hopefully, China's State [...]

Basic Chinese Greetings

Chinese is a pretty difficult language for English speakers to learn compared to Spanish or French. However, if you're going to China, take the time to learn some basics. The words below appear both in Chinese characters and in pinyin, the form of Chinese that can be written with the Roman/English alphabet with the addition of some accent marks that indicate the tone of the word. Because Chinese is a tonal language, to really learn to say things correctly, use a Chinese friend or download a Pimsleur audio course through audible.com and/or use a Chinese app on your smart phone such as the ones pictured above. Hello 你好。 Nǐ hǎo; The standard "hello" greeting. Literally means "you good." 您好。 Nǐn hǎo; The same "hello" greeting as above, except that 您 (nǐn) is used when addressing elders, or teachers. 喂 Wèi? Hello? This is the first thing that Chinese people say when they answer the phone. How are you? 你好吗? Nǐ hǎo ma?; Often [...]

How to Teach in China Without a Degree

With an approximated 400+ million Chinese learning English, China represents the biggest job market in the world for teaching English and the demand for English teachers is tremendous. Language schools in China often provide foreign English instructors with such advantages as complimentary airline ticket reimbursement after one year, a housing allowance, medical insurance coverage, and paid vacation. You may believe that without a degree no one will provide you a visa. However, I'm here to inform you that you can teach abroad in China without a college degree. You'll have to invest more time searching for a job and you probably won't get the same salary and benefits as your coworkers with degrees, but if you're determined to see the world and teach in China, there are lots of ways to make it occur. Here's a caveat though. If you happen to be black, Asian, Indian or don't look like a stereotypical American to Chinese school owners, that will make [...]

5 Huge Mistakes My First Year Teaching English in China

Below are the 5 biggest mistakes that I made when I first went to teach English in China. I'm sharing them so you can learn from them without going through the pain and frustration that I went through. Don't do what I did! 1. I hung out mainly with foreigners. I was so freaked out by the foreign culture of China and the Chinese language barrier, I initially hung out almost exclusively with other foreigners. Other foreign teachers from my school and I would go out on our days off and invariably at least one person would start complaining and start saying sentences that started with, "In the US we" or "In Australia we." I could be having a great day but after listening to my fellow teachers moan about how backward China was, I started feeling negative too. Luckily, after my first month, I decided to be more outgoing with the Chinese people around me and that changed everything. [...]

Dave’s ESL Café for the Best TEFL TESOL Teach Abroad Jobs

If you've considered teaching English abroad, you've almost certainly visited the website known as Dave’s ESL Cafe, Dave's Cafe, or ESL Cafe, the oldest and most popular job website for people who want to teach English overseas. Creator Dave Sperling started Dave's ESL Cafe back in 1995 after teaching overseas for 10 years and getting his master's degree in linguistics. Dave is really a fascinating guy. He got his bachelor's degree in psychology from Pepperdine in 1983 and worked for a while with mentally handicapped patients. His love for travel and entrepreneurial personality led him to move to Japan where he taught English and then started his own English training school. Later he moved to the beautiful city of Chaing Mai, Thailand where he met his wife. Then, after 10 years overseas, Dave and his family moved to California.   A screenshot of Dave's ESL Cafe in December 1996 Dave was teaching ESL at a university California when a [...]

7 Teaching Principles New English Language Teachers Often Forget

1) Reduce Teacher Talk Time In order for your students to learn to speak English, they must practice talking. However, when you're talking to them, they're not talking. Consequently, learn to zip your lips! This can be hard to get the hang of but if you want to be a good English teacher, you MUST do this. 2) Give Instructions First What occurs when you provide students a handout, and then explain what you want them to do? Or, you ask students to create a small group and then explain the task? The primary issue is that the students won't hear you! Instead, always offer directions first, and afterwards check for understanding. (see # 3). Lastly, provide the students the handout, or direct them to form small groups. Also, remember to tell the students how much time they have for the task. (see # 4). 3) Check for Understanding This does not imply just saying to the students’ "Everyone understands what [...]

Which Cities in China Have the Least Pollution?

China is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, but the number of tourists visiting China is declining, mainly because of China's increasingly serious air pollution. Many cities regularly have hazy polluted air. Unfortunately, the rapid growth of China’s economy and industry in the past 40 years has led to an environmental catastrophe. The above map shows that central, east and south China are the most often polluted areas, especially Beijing and Shanghai. Not surprisingly, this map closely corresponds to China’s population distribution. Furthermore, the smog is usually the worst in the winter. Air quality changes every day and can vary within a city so it's best to consider average pollution rates over several months. In general, air quality is better in Shenzhen in Guangdong province and most cities in Yunnan province. The western part of China may look like the best past to live for clean air, but keep in mind population density and job availability is much [...]

5 of China’s Top 10 Cities with Clean Air are in Guangdong

Are you looking for a city without the smog that Beijing is famous for? China's Ministry of Environmental Protection has announced that 5 of China's top 10 cities with clean air are in Guangdong province. Countrywide, the top 10 Chinese cities with the best air quality are Haikou, Huizhou, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Zhouzhan, Jiangmen, Lishui and Lhasa. All 5 cities from Guangdong are located in the province’s Pearl River Delta region. Ever heard of Shenzhen? If you're not Chinese or a sinophile, probably not. These are just 2 of the new megacities in Guangdong province, on China's southern coast next to Hong Kong. Shenzhen, now with a population of 12 million people, didn't even exist until 1980 when Chinese leader, Deng Xiaoping, started urbanizing China and turning China into the economic powerhouse that it is today. Two of the cool things about living in Shenzhen is that it is such a young city; and amazingly, it also has some [...]

3 Tips for Teaching in Shanghai

by Damon L. Hansen, MA For years I dreamed about admiring the Great Wall of China and seeing the Terracotta Army and visiting the city of Lhasa to gaze up the Dalai Lamas' golden coffins adorned with jewels and emeralds and rubies. However, there were numerous considerations, I had to resolve before taking the plunge moving to the other side of the planet. Now that I've lived in China four years and have experienced many schools and three cities (Shanghai, Xi’an, and Hangzhou), I figured it was time I passed on my advice to those considering coming to teach English in China. Here's my advice on how to choose where to teach, how to not get deported, and how to save money. With regards to choosing where to teach, the first step is to evaluate your resume/CV and know which teaching jobs you are and aren't eligible for. Most teachers without a teaching licensed that [...]

6 Dating Tips for Teaching Abroad

Dating while in another country can often seem like another universe full of small but crucial signs you have to look out for, making sense of traditions and languages you’ve never heard before.  What should you expect regarding love while overseas? How do you date while teaching abroad? We asked six veterans to share some insights on their experience. #1 Forget the dating apps That’s right - swiping Tinder won’t get you far. “It was always face-to-face for me. I think I preferred it that way. It seemed more natural,” shares Max who went to Thailand not looking for love, but love ended up finding him in the form of Julie, another American English teacher. Clay who taught English in South Korea agrees, explaining, "In Asia people tend to be very traditional to the point where if you’re single, then you still live with your parents even if you’re over 30." So, put the phone down and go out. Victoria, [...]

10 Keys to Teaching English Abroad in China

Believe me, teaching English Abroad in China, Japan, South Korea, or another foreign country is a life-changing experience that will make you a better person and change the way you look at the world. However, getting the job is just the start of your adventure. Once you get there, the work of teaching begins. You might think, "Hey, I know how to speak English and I like kids, so what's the big deal?" Teaching requires more planning and energy than most new teachers expect. That is, GOOD teaching requires it. And you want to do a good job, right? Your precious students' minds and lives have been put into your care, so don't take that responsibility lightly. You may be the first and only foreigner that your students may know for years to come. The impression of English and of foreigners-in-general that you leave on them may make the difference in if they decide to go overseas for university [...]

Learn These Basic Chinese Phrases for Teaching Abroad

Mastery of the Chinese language takes a long time and most foreigners in China never become fluent, but you can learn some basic Chinese phrases. Knowing them will definitely make your life easier. These phrases will come in handy at restaurants, stores, and as you explore China. Also, any effort you make at speaking Chinese will show respect for the culture and will help you make friends and be a good ambassador of your country. Plus, learning some Chinese will make you a better English teacher. Make the effort! Unlike English, Chinese is a tonal language with 5 tones and these can take a while to get used to both hearing and producing. For example, the word ma has 5 different meanings depending on the tone. Look at what happens in these two sentences with the exact same pronunciation except different tones on shui and jiao. Sentence A: Xiǎo jie, shuǐ (the third tone) jiǎo (the third tone) yī [...]

8 Biggest Culture Shock Issues for Foreign Teachers in China

There are lots of ways in which China amazes people. It is one of the few places left, especially in the rural areas, where westernization has actually not occurred to the extent that it has in several other areas of the world. To most tourists, there are numerous aspects of China that will certainly be unexpected, and sometimes offensive. After four years of living in China, things that initially caused me to cringe, now barely phase me. Here are a few things that might shock you too. Pollution Many people know that China has a big problem with pollution. Chinese cities dominate lists of the world's most contaminated cities. Nevertheless, World Health Organization stats show that there are cities in several various other nations that are currently worse, especially Iran, India, and Pakistan. Yet China is trying to clean things up. The roadways are full of electric scooters and bikes, recycling is widespread. Leave an item of cardboard next [...]

What TESOL, TEFL and CELTA English Teacher Certifications are the Best?

  What TESOL, TEFL and CELTA English teacher certifications are the best? More and more employers are looking for ways to confirm that the people they are recruiting are prepared to teach their classrooms. Certification helps to do this. English teaching acronyms like TESOL, TEFL, TESL, and CELTA can be intimidating when you first start considering teaching abroad.  Well, first of all, TESOL/TEFL/TESL are generally interchangeable. They are all ESL certifications that can come in different lengths such as 50, 100, 120 hour courses. Most schools require 120-hours so don't waste your time and money on a course that's too short for the job you want. TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), is similar to the certifications above in that it equips an individual with some of the essential understanding of grammar [...]

China’s Mania for Learning English

Currently, China has a “mania” about learning English. You might see pregnant women singing English songs to their babies, senior citizens in parks practicing English speaking, and students paying big bucks for for tutoring to prepare for the TOEFL test. Three hundred years ago, people studied English to understand the world and communicate with China's foreign visitors. When English tests became required for college admission, people started to see learning English as a way to get better career and education opportunities. English has been a part of China’s formal education system ever since the early 1980s. Now, all children are required by law to begin studying English when they are 8 years old or even younger in some provinces. For many Chinese, English is also important because it enables them to represent China positively to foreigners. In 2002, Wang Shouren, the chairman of the (NFLTAB) National Foreign Language Teaching Advisory Board within the Ministry of Education, published an editorial [...]

Why I Both Love and Hate Living in Beijing

Are you thinking about moving to Beijing? Perhaps you're an English teacher like me and are trying to choose where to apply for jobs. Well, let me tell you why I both love and hate living in Beijing. The Good Stuff Food Every kind of food and dining imaginable is available in Beijing. I have access to all the Chinese food I could ever want to eat and the same with all kinds of international food. There is something for every taste in Beijing, and plenty of vegetarian restaurants as well. Lots of Work for Expats Unlike many other places, expats in Beijing have access to pretty much every job imaginable. Fashion designers, bankers, writers, international school teachers, bartenders, ESL teachers, students, business people: they are all thriving in Beijing, which creates a very rich community of expats all at different stages of their careers and lives. Due to this, there are a number of facilities and resources available for [...]

How Can I Teach English in China?

Want to teach in China? We help and advise hundreds of teachers from English speaking countries to find English teaching jobs in China. If you have already started, or are thinking of an English teaching career, or time off from your usual occupation, then we can help you on your way. Teaching Abroad Every year tens of thousands of teachers go to countries in Asia to teach English - particularly English teaching in China, Korea, and Japan, which are all countries with a strong demand for native speaking English teachers. Teaching positions range from kindergarten, junior, senior, adult and business English students - so there is something for everyone. In fact, these days an English teacher can make a respectable income teaching English in many countries. China Teaching Advice We offer free independent advice about important aspects of teaching English overseas, such as teaching English materials to better help your students master English. TEFL Certificate Courses We know that getting [...]

For Asian-Looking English Teachers Who Want to Teach in China

We want to be up front and let you know that we have tried before and have never been successful at finding English teaching jobs in China for Asian-looking teachers. We've even had Chinese-American and Korean-American teachers with bachelor's degrees who couldn't find English teacher jobs in China. This discrimination does not apply to international schools for expat student that have Western management but those schools require home-country teaching certification and home-country teaching experience such as teaching AP Calculus in a high school in the US or U.K. English schools tell me the issue Is that Chinese parents want "western looking" English teachers. Most parents don't speak English themselves so they can't judge how good a teacher's English skills or accent are. They also often think that English speaking countries are as racially homogenous with Caucasians as China is with Chinese. Most English schools pay their local Chinese teachers (if any), only 1/3 to 1/4 what Western looking teachers make [...]