China’s education sector is one largest and most diverse in the world. Within it are many different types of institutions, ranging from thousands of privately operated schools and learning centres, to a diverse range of Government run Public Primary, Middle and High Schools.
Every public school in China has unique characteristics and areas of specialization, but generally speaking they all share a number of great common advantages for teachers!
Curriculum, Teaching Objectives and Culture
First things first; public schools typically have large class sizes (anywhere from 30 – 45 students), and you may be the only foreign teacher at that school. Teachers passionate about reaching a wider range of students from different social and economic backgrounds tend to find Public School Teaching Roles to be incredibly rewarding. In terms of learning culture, public schools are motivated only by the success of their students, and the atmosphere in public schools reflects this initiative to press for academic excellence.
Although foreign teachers may be given a very basic syllabus to follow and some teaching materials, many schools ask foreign teachers to plan and conduct their lessons independently, allowing much flexibility for teachers to craft their own lesson plans, and create an engaging and interactive classroom experience.
Many would argue that teaching in a public school increases the immersive value of a teacher’s time in China. They also provide a chance to see how a traditional Chinese school operates and to learn from the cultural distinctions that exist between the Chinese public schooling system and that in the West.
Workload and Hours
Public schools’ timetables are in line with national academic term times. So, teachers work from Monday to Friday between the hours of 9am and 4pm, and have weekends to themselves. The majority of schools require no more than 18 teaching hours per week, with a limited number of office hours, if any at all – most teachers undertake planning in their own time.
Working to a fixed schedule has some strong advantages, which generally includes a lot of free time! Whereas in a private language centre, teachers will usually be expected to perform demonstration classes and participate in marketing events at short notice, there is less room for that element of surprise at public schools meaning it’s easier to arrange social plans on evenings and weekends with friends.
A consistent schedule also means consistency in terms of who you will teach. Teaching a fixed group of students gives teachers at public schools the opportunity to bond with students in their classes, benefitting their confidence in an academic context.
Good Salary Package, Optional Private Tutoring
Public schools are government regulated and as a guide offer a salary of between RMB6000-9000 a month, dependent on the city, although can be as high as RMB13000 for those with prior teaching experience. Many teachers opt to undertake some private tutoring on the side or winter/ summer camps during the long holidays to top up their income – which can be fairly lucrative!
Coupled with the lower working hours, public school roles are great financially for ESL teachers in China.
Teachers also get the standard package including flight reimbursement, apartment, and local insurance as part of their salary package – for those schools providing an accommodation allowance, a start-up loan is often available to help cover the initial rental costs on arrival.
Lots of Holidays = travel time
Of course, teaching in China is not all work work work – you’re there to explore and embrace a new country, and one big advantage public schools have over private language centres is the holiday periods. In addition to the 11 days of national holidays such as the Spring Festival and the National Day Festival, schools have two term vacations, one in July and August and one between January and February, so plenty of time to travel – just ensure tickets are booked early, as these are peak travel times! During these long holidays explore more of China, or take an extended holiday to Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, India…you get the jist!
Last but not least, many public schools give their teachers free meals while on campus in the school canteen – a good opportunity to enjoy a traditional Chinese lunch while chatting with colleagues.
In summary, there are many benefits to a public school teaching role in China. Review our Teach China Public School Programme for more information.
If you have further questions please feel welcome to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.