Teaching English in China

Don’t forget the toilet paper!

Now, I’m not suggesting that you pack a jumbo pack of toilet paper in your suitcase, but whatever you do, make sure you remember to take some with you whenever you go anywhere in China – generally toilets will not have toilet paper. It may sound like a pretty mundane thing to worry about, but it makes a big difference! It’s also worth getting used to squat toilets and not having doors, or sometimes even cubicles. Don’t worry, after the initial shock you will get over it. Just remember, you’re the only one who’s embarrassed!

Don’t be alarmed if people stop you in the street and talk to you

Some people get very unnerved when they first arrive in China, as lots of people will stop you in the street and talk to you in English. So, chat to people if they strike up a conversation – they’re just practicing their English.

Learn how to write Chinese characters

There’s no need to become a master at calligraphy, but it’s worth learning how to copy Chinese characters. It makes things much easier when you’re asking for directions, getting a cab or buying train tickets to show someone a piece of paper with where you’re trying to get to written on it – solves pronunciation problems and also makes it much easier for the person in question to gesticulate where you should be going or draw a little map if you’ve got a pen.

Don’t worry about being stared at

No, you haven’t got something in your teeth – don’t panic! While staring is considered rude in the US, people in China don’t have such hang-ups. So, as something of a novelty, especially if you’re staying in a rural area that doesn’t have many Western visitors, you will find yourself the subject of quite a bit of attention! Try not to let it bother you – it’s not meant maliciously so just smile…

Never turn down an invitation

You’ll probably find lots of people wanting to take you out for meals, show you their city and generally make you feel as welcome as possible. So never turn down an invitation – you can have an awesome time while making new friends – going shopping, eating out, being shown around different places in the city, and even ending up as a guest at a wedding.


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