i gotta say, among all the questions i'm asked, teaching english in china is the most popular and frequent. i've answered this question so many times, i figure it's time i go public and spill it all at once.

"how did you do it? where do i start? do you need to speak chinese?"

how did i do it? i just did it.

where did i start? found the right organization.

do you need to speak chinese? absolutely not.

if you're among those many interested people who ask yourselves the same question, allow me to be of some help. of course, this is from the perspective of my specific experience and there is a wide array of organizations (check out our list on the far right) you can become involved with. furthermore, you can even just find the school yourself and show up ready to work. the world needs willing volunteers, and asia is full of possibilities both paid and non-paid. i suggest for your first time finding a respected and legitimate organization to show you the ropes--that way, you are better acquainted with what it takes to teach english abroad.

as for me, i taught english with china horizons and would recommend them in a second to anyone who might be interested. jacob harlan runs the company--and he is an amazing dude based out of rexburg, idaho. this is not only an affordable opportunity to teach english in china, but it gives you first hand experience the chinese way. i wouldn't trade it for the world. i came home a changed person, and certainly for the better.

a lot of people ask what it's like being a teacher. even though english is a natural and easy thing for us, teachers should really focus and plan their lessons for their class. keep the students in mind and create lesson plans that are hands on and require a lot of participation. students only learn the language by using it--get them involved through role play and games.

you can expect a lot of giggles, smiles, hugs, and invitations to dinner. the chinese people are so kind and loving they just can't help themselves--as you walk around the classroom teaching, you can count on cell phones clicking photos and even recording videos as you teach. the best way to discipline the students is to create your own rules. i had about 5 simple rules. they LOVE to have silly punishments. for example, one rule can be: only speak english. if they break this rule and speak chinese, the punishment can be sing a song in english. or something along those lines. you would be surprised at how much they LOVE to sing! they are quite the performers!

chinese students are very shy. they are used to sitting, listening, memorizing, and reciting. class participation is often your greatest challenge. push them, but be kind and understanding. chinese culture emphasizes filial piety and respect for your elder, and because they respect their teachers so much speaking up in class can be seen as challenging authority. in american culture, we are more innovative and respect that difference in a way that does not force it. do not get frustrated with the students, as that only confuses them more. they understand a lot of what you say--it's just about communicating to them what you'd like them to do. once the students have warmed up to you, they'll be your best friends.

the organization i went with allowed me to create my own curriculum. i distributed exams, grades, attendance, homework, and all the usual college course requirements. be creative and have fun with it!

china is another world, my friends. don't forget that you are the visitor in their country, and as a U.S. citizen coming into a communist country there are extreme differences. be respectful to their culture. learn as much as you can about the people. really immerse yourself into their lifestyle. 

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  1. I would love to do this in Thailand or Greece. LOVE LOVE LOVE


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