Teaching English as a foreign language in China is seen by many as a way of traveling the world, taking a gap year from study, or even starting a whole new life in China. Although teaching in China can be the start of an amazing adventure, and a life changing one at that, there are many things you’ll need to take into consideration before you take the plunge, both things in and out of the class room. 

Dress code

As an ESL teacher in China, you’d better dress appropriately; and this can range from causal wear to extremely formal (suits and ties). When teaching Adults In China nothing less than a shirt and tie combo or formal dress (Skirt is generally to the knee) is deemed acceptable, a shirt is usually required for University and training centers. Dressing slightly more casually as you teach younger students is usually acceptable. Dressing appropriately is very important for teachers in China.

Behaviors and etiquette

One of the first things you’ll want to know is local etiquette in China (what is considered rude or deemed impolite). When you are in class, putting your legs on the table, Chewing gum and answering the phone are impolite. Find out how you are expected to communicate with your students, and how students should interact with each other. Use the right way to treat them. 

Avoiding taboos

It’s very important to understand Chinese customs in terms of what topics of conversation are deemed unacceptable and what you can’t do. Taboo is considered bad behavior in China, especially for teachers, because teachers are the model of the students.  Topics you should never talk about and not disclose any opinions on are usually called the three-T's, Taiwan, Tibet and Tiananmen Square. Even if you have your own opinions on these topics please keep them to yourself at all times whilst in China.

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Mark Manning

A Lawyer of foreign hiring in China, Mark Manning is the CEO and Founder of Teaching China.net, a teacher employment and service provider firm that helps teachers get closer to their employers and win at securing a safe and valued teaching position in China.

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