What is it really like Teaching English in China?

A vast country with 1/5 of the world’s population, rich culture, diverse natural beauty, and eight types of cuisine, China can be both wildly intriguing and intimidating at the same time. Going through rapid technological development and economic growth, China’s need for English teachers is higher than ever. Because China is so large and diverse, it can be difficult to imagine what living there would be like. That’s why we asked ESL teacher Dessire Robles to share her experience teaching English in China! Read on to find out about what it’s really like for English teachers living and working in China.

teaching english in china infographic

How long have you been in China?

I’ve lived in China for 8 months!

What do you teach?

I teach at Aston International in Yulin and I teach a variety of ages 7-15, which I like. The school is really beautiful. It’s new and in a 14-story building. I like teaching at Aston because we focus specifically on English.

What is your living arrangement like?

My apartment is located in a really nice neighbourhood. When I first walked up to my apartment the outside looked shabby, but I was pleasantly surprised when I walked inside. I live in a large apartment (the room is bigger than my room back home in America), I have my own half bath and I live with a roommate. We have an extra room for visitors and I feel like I’m living in a hotel sometimes. They take great care of the inside of our building, so it’s nice and clean.

What has been your wildest experience?

On International Women’s Day, my boss took myself and some other ex-pats to the next province over for a hike. It felt like we were climbing a mountain and the temperature was -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Myself and a few others had to stop half-way up the mountain and turnaround because it was so cold and my knees were done. We were NOT prepared for this.

I’m from a tropical climate, and it’s pretty cold in Yulin. I went to see a movie recently with some friends and came out to a snowstorm!

living in china winter

How do you meet people and what is your social life like outside of work?

I live in a small city (Yulin), but in reality there are 10 million people here. The city definitely has less foreigners living in it than others. I spend time with my roommate. She’s been here for 3 years and has introduced me to lots of her friends, which has helped me adjust. I’m friends with the locals who take me out for food, movies, and karaoke (Chinese people love to sing). Also, I have a circle of expat friends.

Where else have you traveled in Southeast Asia?

I went to Korea on my vacation, and it was amazing. I got to eat cheese for the first time in a long time and I LOVE dairy. Really, I ate all the cheese that I could. Now I order my peanut butter and cheese online (through e-bay of China).

What has been the biggest challenge in moving and working abroad?

Living away from my family has been easier said than done. It was my dream to teach English overseas, but when holidays come around I miss my family. This has been my first trip away from home alone.

Cultural differences like seeing men pee on the streets, people spitting everywhere, and having cigarette smoke blown in my face (maybe not the most considerate).

living in china

What is your biggest accomplishment?

All the kids tell me that I’m an awesome teacher, and kids don’t lie!  I teach at a public school on Wednesdays to promote our school. Every time I get to the school, the kids run out and are so happy to see me.

What would you do differently?

I would’ve taken Chinese classes in college instead of Korean and Japanese. I never imagined I would end up in China!

esl teacher in china

What’s a piece of advice for other teachers or those considering teaching abroad?

If you’re thinking about coming to China, do it! It’s scary and it can be difficult, but at the end of the day it’s an ADVENTURE. It truly is Adventure Teaching, and you’ll never know unless you try it. If your first school isn’t the right fit, then after your one-year contract is up you can always teach somewhere else.

Does Teaching English in China Sound Awesome to You?

Start your application today! Your adventure in China awaits. You should probably do this.