We’ve all heard about (or know) somebody doing it. They took a TEFL course, got a passport/visa, and hopped on an airplane — destination unknown. But did you ever consider actually embarking on the adventure of a lifetime? Did you ever think seeing the entire world was possible? Too expensive? Not enough education? You couldn’t be more wrong. Getting out of the country and starting a new career teaching English has never been easier.
I first considered the opportunity back in 2003. I had no clue as to how passports and visas worked, or how to find a position. A friend had recommended that I consider working in China to help give me a broader view of the world. The next thing I knew I was studying for my TEFL certification (a 30-hour course) and getting on a plane. It was the best advice I ever took, not only did I find employment right away I ended up staying for 10 years. The pay was excellent, the school provided my housing, and I saw more of Asia than I ever thought possible.
Yes, that’s me standing between the Dean of Foreign Languages and my assistant in Zhungzhou, Zhujiang Province (northern China). We took a small holiday to see 2,000-year-old Buddhist caves carved out of a granite wall (the “wall” went on for miles). The caves were carved out by one of the “lost tribes” of China, nomadic tribes of people who lived in the mountains completely cut off from the outside world. It wasn’t until well after the Cultural Revolution that the tribes were discovered, and the local people had to be re-educated about the modern world. They believed that their works would help them to achieve ascension, elevating them to the next world after they leave this one.
That’s just one of many places in China to go see. Having a job that paid well enabled me to fill up my OneDrive account with more images than they realistically allow. But I’m not here to talk about my experience, this article is to help you — the reader — decide if a career abroad is right for you.
There’s a lot to choose from. The world is a big, and I mean BIG place. Some 300 countries spread out across several continents. Some are safe, some are not. Some are just dangerous enough to add a little adventure to your experience (Cambodia, as an example). I was lucky, I chose China to start my career and never ran into a problem.
Teaching abroad is probably the most life-changing experience a person can have. You leave your native land for the unknown. New people, a new culture and new customs await. For some it’s a fresh start on a new life, for others it’s gaining experience for a career back home. No matter what your reason might be, it’s never been easier to make a go of it. Good pay, sponsored housing (no rent!) and the opportunity to see the world await. You just need a little courage and an open mind.
I began my position in China long before most people even knew China had re-opened to the outside world. I lived in a city of 8 million people, and I was one of 5 people who wasn’t Chinese (technically, I was the 7th non-Chinese person to ever go there). Students and teachers alike took me on trips to their hometowns, where no Western person had ever gone. That kind of discovery was my attraction to China, it kept me going for 10 years straight. As I write this blog, I still have plans for going back. The Western provinces and Tibet are calling my name. And the good part — it’s easier now to go than it’s ever been.
Teaching abroad is a great way to meet people from all over the world. I’ve had the opportunity to work with people from England, Australia, South Africa, Ireland, Scotland and New Zealand. I’ve learned that all countries in Asia ARE NOT the same. I’ve eaten food I’d never consider touching in the States, and loved every minute of it. From exploring remote regions to seeing some largest modern cities on Earth, Asia (seriously) has it all. And they pay. Well.
Standard compensation usually ranges between $800 and $2,500 with a free apartment (comparable to most apartments in the USA). Considering the USD to Chinese RMB is 6.2 to 1, the buying power is incredible and you don’t even have to pay rent. The food is fantastic and most cities now have McDonald’s, KFC and even Papa John’s. Prices are still low, you can feed 2 people in a decent restaurant for less than 3 dollars. Beer is less than 35 cents per quart. And travelling on your off time is dirt cheap.
Most people wonder “how” you can teach English if you don’t know Chinese. The truth is, most students in your class have already been studying English for several years. They need assistance with their accents, proper tense, and usage. That’s where you come in as a Native English Speaker. Your natural ability to speak English is a prized asset in China. And with a growing economy, schools are paying increasing salaries to keep Foreign English Teachers working for them.
So what’s so big about English, anyways? The modern business world uses English. Without English, your international business is going nowhere. In fact, the World Trade Organization (WTO) has deemed English as the “International Language of Business”. This means virtually all international business contracts are written in English. Want to take a contractual dispute to the WTO? Your contract had better be in English. Yes, it’s that important.
Of course, there’s a multitude of students hoping to go abroad for study. Their dream is to attend university in the United States, England, Canada… Guess which language they need to be fluent in? And guess who they’re willing to pay to help them get there?
China, by far, is offering the best in terms of monthly salary and housing. They have the largest demand with a very limited supply. Virtually all positions can be negotiated before even leaving your home country, and most teachers decide to stay well after their teaching contracts expire. I did. For 10 years.
Finding your way to a good school, negotiating a contract, and applying for a visa can be both time consuming and frustrating. There’s no real up-front, step-by-step manual for doing it. And that’s the reason why I decided to put it all down in a small book, Escape To China (available on Kindle). I’ve detailed every step a person has to take to be living and working in China. And anyone can do it in less than 1 month.
Do you really need my $3.49 book to find work and move to China? Of course not, there’s a wealth of information on the internet to help you out. But for just a few bucks, the headaches of navigating the hiring and immigration process are totally spelled out. It tells you everything you need to know, and has you working in China in 5 easy steps. I’m not kidding here — 5 steps.
You might have checked out some job boards and think you don’t meet the qualifications. Not true. So long as you have a high school diploma (or GED like I had), you can gain employment. It’s all in there, as well as tips on how to survive your first term. As well I’ve detailed the different types of schools, mistakes to avoid, and living in the culture in general. It’s 10 years of experience summed up into a 200-page e-book, written to help anyone interested in teaching abroad.
Escape To China is now available on Smashwords, and should be debuting on Amazon Kindle in the next couple days. If you have any questions (regardless if you buy my book), please feel free to contact me.
You can also stay up-to-date on the latest visa laws and information on Teaching in China by liking my Facebook page and following on Twitter!
…And don’t forget to stay current with the latest jobs!
Hope to see you somewhere in China!