Chinese business culture

Chinese Business Etiquette

One good way to live, travel and work in China is to teach English in China. Do note that salary may not be fantastic but accomodation and return air ticket is typically provided and does help for those with minimal budget.


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Teach English in China

Learning English is a particularly hot item right now in China with the Olympics in 2008 coming quickly. You can't flip a newspaper or walk through a busy street without seeing advertisement screaming English Lessons everywhere!

So how do you find a job teaching English? Well, if you are blond, has blue eyes, a basic University degree and speak decent English, consider that you have been hired! Just kidding!

Well, you can either sign up with ESL English teacher agencies or you can look up advertisements in the internet. But apply early: While some positions are still open as late as July or August, try to make contact by March. (Occasionally, positions are open for the second semester, too, which begins in February.)

1. Learn as much as you can about China and the experience of teaching English in China. There are many books in the market and good websites as well. We, of course, will recommend our eBook, Posted to China - Find out what corporate HR does not tell you. This ebook is very helpful if you are thinking of working or living in China for a period of time.

2. Once you know something about China and what to expect from the teaching experience, decide on a list of universities to apply to. You can try using the Internet and many Chinese universities do have posting about English teachers' vacancies.

3. Contact the people at the school responsible for hiring foreign teachers. Individual academic departments--usually foreign languages or English--hire their own foreign teachers, so the right person is usually the chair or vice-chair of that department.

One way to get in touch with the right person is to be physically in China while you're looking for a teaching position. Bring application materials with you. But keep in mind that if you do get a job as a student or tourist, you will probably have to leave the country or go to Hong Kong to get your visa changed. There is usually a person in the University that will be able to assist you with such administrative tasks.

4. Sooner or later you will need to send a resume. Be sure to highlight any teaching or tutoring experience. You may also want to include references and a letter of explanation.

There is usually no need to have a English Language degree or a ESL qualifications. However, this can differ from University to University, School to School.

5. If you are ultimately offered a position you like, you may want to try a little negotiating. But you're unlikely to be successful if the school has a standard contract. In public universities, compensation for inexperienced foreign teachers is never very much. Expect to get housing, anywhere from RMB1,400 to RMB2,200 ($169-$266) a month and sometimes a one-way ticket home as well.

Chinese universities rarely require foreigners to teach more than 14 or 15 hours of oral English classes each week. If the department wants you to do more, insist on no more than 14 or 15 hours and ask if some of the lessons can be converted to optional office hours. Also, if you're teaching any writing or 'content' courses, you should have significantly fewer classroom hours. You can't get rich but you do have a lot of free time such that you have time to explore the town and surrounding areas or even to take up Chinese lessons or other Chinese studies such as calligraphy, painting or even Chinese martial arts.

However, if you position is in a commercial or a private school, then the teaching hours may go up considerably. Stories of English teachers being exploited is common.

6. When you consider a job offer, you should ask for the names of foreigners who are currently teaching or have recently taught at that school so you can get the real scoop on the university and its treatment of foreigners. This is important as many schools, especially the private or commercial schools, has a reputation for bad treatment of foreigners.


For more information about Chinese business culture and etiquette, check out this interesting China Book. Or email us for further information.