why i love teaching esl in china

Why I love teaching ESL in China. Spoiler! It’s not teaching

Charles
Charles
October 17, 2019

Why I love teaching ESL in China

What started as a gap year has turned into a whole chapter in my life and potentially a career.  Teaching ESL in Asia. I still catch myself in a momentary feeling of disbelief when I’m up in front of a class of students, or walking through a busy side street that delivers a true taste of Chinese culture; that I am working and living in China. Beyond that, I can’t believe why I love teaching ESL in China.

I’m closing in on year number 3 abroad, it’s crazy how time flies.  Without fail, in conversation people gush how I must love teaching. It’s funny because I still don’t consider myself a teacher.  Teaching is only a means to an end. First a foremost I consider myself director of my own life and brand. Charles Inc, if you will.  I like to think that at the moment I am selling English, really. Teaching ESL is currently the most lucrative way for me to reach my goals.  And why shouldn’t it be, know many other gigs paying $100 per hour in some cases?

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I know I’m working harder than smarter at the moment.  I’m earning 6 figures teaching ESL, but I work the equivalent of two full time jobs each week hours wise.  I don’t mind because it’s delivering the results to reach my goals of financial independence in a short period of time thanks to lower costs of living in China.  All the while, allowing me to live a certain quality of life, with the requirements I need to be genuinely happy. 

Here is the mission statement as to why I love teaching ESL in China.  Teaching English in China allows me to save insane amounts of money, while maintaining a high standard of living for cheap, in a world class modern city, with the freedom to travel for months each year.  Lets dive deeper into each of the domains of this statement.

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I can save a full time salary after expenses each year in China

Show me the money!  Education is big business in China.  With so many children in the country, and a finite number of quality jobs and positions, competition is extra fierce to get your child ahead.  Parents are willing to spend big bucks making sure their child has all the advantages. There’s a few forces at play that allow you to command $100 per hour for a private English lesson.  China’s economy has exploded over the last 30-40 years. More growth than any country in history in fact. Family is also the center of the Chinese universe (2nd only to their commitment to the country).  And the newest generation is seen as the future so parents and grandparents are focused on furthering their child and their family name.

A note on the education profession; teachers in China are seen as respectable professionals and are paid accordingly.  And at the moment a pretty foreign face gets paid even more to deliver the international language of the world; English.  As it seems now, there’s more demand than there is supply, so a foreign teacher in China can demand a high salary.

Beyond the salary, are the private lessons available.  I can only speak of my own tier 1 city; Shenzhen, but I imagine the situation is similar all over China.  Parents are always looking for extra study sessions for their children. Seriously, these kids study 7 days a week.

So for someone with a little ambition and perseverance, they can stack bills high.  I’m willing to work 7 days a week for 6 figures. And it’s possible for anyone if they are willing to put in the work.

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China provides a high quality of living on the cheap

As I mentioned, China’s economy only blew up in the last few decades.  And much of the country is still 3rd world to be completely honest. Don’t worry though, in tier 1,2 and even 3 cities, they will likely be more modern than where you come from in the west. 

In any case, the cost of living is still quite low.  Western amenities definitely carry a price tag, but if you balance eating and entertainment between western and local, you’ll come out far ahead.  Heck, with the money you are making teaching English in China, you’ll come out ahead even if you go strictly western. I don’t even cook anymore, I order western prepped fitness meals every day for the cost of a Mcdonald’s burger and meal back home in Canada.

Apartments will likely be similar to what you’re used to back home; more expensive in tier 1 cities and less so in the smaller cities.  For example, I rent a one bedroom that’s a decent enough place and clean in an expensive area for 4,000 RMB all utilities included. Thats under $800 Canadian.  And that’s a drop in the bucket of what I make each month.

Disposable like I’ve never experience out here.  

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You get so much freedom teaching ESL

I sometimes find it ironic that I spend most of my free time doing extra teaching, but that’s because it fits into my longer term goals.  But the reality is, English teachers in China get a lot of free time. In any case, there’s months of holidays between summer vacation, the spring festival in the winter and national holidays.  Beyond that, your daily free time in the form of office hours or the ability to leave school when you don’t teach depends on the type of job you take. 

Kindergarten positions will provide the least office hours and free time, but higher pay.  I currently teach at a private kindergarten, and I’m not sure the juice is worth the squeeze.  A lot of headaches for the few extra thousand RMB. But if you love the little ones and enjoy teaching, or are talented at biting your tongue and faking a smile, this might be the path for you for the extra money.

The best option in my opinion is to work at a public school.  You teach on average 15 hours a week and the rest of the time is prep or office hours.  You don’t need to do much prep if you are smart about finding resources – I can help!  Little amounts of teaching, lots of free time to pursue side interests, studying for a masters degree or chilling out and watching netflix.  From my personal experience, in the public sector everyone is pretty laid back because it’s not their company or life on the line. Kind of like back home.  Public is definitely the headache free option.

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I had a pretty good life back home in Canada; family who loved me, a large group of close friends that were basically family.  Life was good. Job opportunity was a little slow, expenses were high and in any case I was an average person.

In China, at least at the moment, foreigners are still treated as something of celebrities.  People stare when you walk by (less so these days, but it still happens). They want to take pictures of you or with you.  When you go places you get extra good service or free food and drinks. You’re paid much higher than the national average and there’s so many opportunities in both teaching and beyond because people and companies want to be associated with foreigners.

What is dating in China like for a foreigner?

Lastly, and this may twist a few nipples.  But at least for guys, the dating scene is likely more favorable than wherever you came from.  You’re going to meet like minded foreigners, and also many locals to whom you are exotic, mystery, and someone who makes a lot of money.  Don’t take this as an invitation to come and exploit this country like much of the west has done to Thailand – which certain parts of disgusted me when I visited.  But it’s undeniable that foreign men receive a lot of attention in China.

Ladies, from what I hear you don’t have it as good as the guys, but you will indeed meet many travel enthusiasts and in the larger chinese cities there are expats and foreigners working in other industries that are generally quite successful.

Why I love teaching ESL in China? It’s an amazing experience

There you have it folks, a few reasons personally, why I love teaching ESL in China.  I make a seriously great living by western standards, but pay the local prices to survive.  Thereby my dollar goes much farther. I’ve got plenty of time to explore the world, work on myself and my side pursuits.  And I get to explore a whole new culture that finds me exciting. Wild.

If this all sounds like something that could fit for you, give me a shout and I can help you turn your life upside down in all the right ways.

Since I’ve been teaching in China for so long, and already helped handfuls of people find teaching jobs in China, I created a website full of resources to make getting an ESL job and moving to China simple and painless.
Visit  www.goeslchina.com for more information!

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  • Currently located in China, teaching English and working towards Financial Freedom. I write about money, travel, personal development and more!

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