most of the people in China do not speak much English and most of the
signs are in Chinese characters, it can be challenging to find your way
around or to ask for directions. This can be daunting for anyone who
doesn't speak any Chinese aside from "Ni hao" but don't let this scare
you. Chinese people are very helpful to foreigners, if they can't answer
your question, they would most like direct you to someone (or something
like an interactive digital signage) who can. In addition there are a
lot of apps nowadays that can translate Mandarin/Cantonese for you. Some
can even talk.
has a huge population. Because of this it is typical for schools to
have large classes having 40 to 50 students per class. It can be
overwhelming and intimidating to manage a class of that size but if you
think about it, it’s just a chance to educate and help more children.
Bring throat lozenges and water to class with you, or check with your
school if they can provide you with a portable microphone so you want
have to scream to be heard by your students.
Encouraging students to speak up
up in households where children are raised to bring nothing but honor
to the family or talking back to elders is not tolerated, it is common
for students in Asia (not only in China) to find it difficult to speak
up. Some students view their teachers as authority figures that one
should not speak up to and some for fear of being laughed at if they
give the wrong answer or they mispronounce a word. Thus it can be
challenging to get these students to speak up – to ask and answer
questions or to just give their opinion and you sometimes find yourself
wondering if you’re actually getting through to them or not.
Students are not used to thinking outside the box
in Asian countries including China are typically used to traditional
learning practices geared toward passing exams - memorization or copying
facts. Because of this, many students who are not used to thinking
independently and analytically find activities that require creative
thinking such as creative writing challenging.
It’s a no-no to fail a student
parents believe that their one and only child is faultless. If a child
fails, it’ll be your fault or the school’s fault. You’ll be criticized.
The school will receive complaints. You may even be asked to put on a
‘demo’ class in front of said parents. All very stressful, all very
English is not a major subject
many cases, English-speaking teachers will be teaching oral English in
China. Since your class may not have periodical exams or homework, like
in other classes taught by local Chinese teachers, it is often seen as
the “fun” class. As a result, students may want to work on homework from
other classes or socialize, and your school may even cancel your class
last minute in order to free up students’ time for other things. This
can sometimes feel a little disheartening and insulting, but try to
understand what the students are going through – the pressure from
family and society, the pressure to be married by age 24 or to do well
to bring prosperity and honor to the family.
How to separate being friendly and being a friend
of class, students may be eager to hang out with you especially if you
live in a dormitory on campus. They may even invite you to their home
for dinner or to go out on weekends. It can sometimes be difficult to
create a boundary between just being friendly with your students and
being their friend, especially if they’re consuming too much of your
free time outside of class or they start expecting favors from you.
Parents can sometimes engage in subtle gift-giving in the form of fancy
dinners or a small red cash envelope in return for small favors like
putting their child who is hard of hearing on the front row or making
the test a bit easier.