Published on:
March 5, 2019

by: Guest

My Top 5 Tips for a New ESL Teacher in Beijing

This week’s blog comes from resident blogger and Teach China Graduate Program participant, Jonas Groom. This week, Jonas discusses his top five tips for a new ESL teacher in Beijing.

I’ve now been teaching in Beijing for six months, so here’s my brief advice to those of you who are about to or thinking of taking the plunge and moving to China – this list is tailored to those of you coming to Beijing, however everything is more or less applicable all over China…

1. Study Chinese! (Mandarin Chinese!)

It pains me when I meet other expats in China who don’t try with the language! Chinese is not like other Romance languages where you can kind of guess what the word means by looking at the familiar Latin alphabet and get away with not learning the language since most people can speak English. Chinese is not like this! If you don’t make an effort to learn at least a little bit of the language you are shooting yourself in the foot! It’s like walking around blind. This is more the case in Beijing as not a lot of people can speak English as compared to Shanghai.

For those of you unsure about what classes to enrol in or who to see I have a great tutor whose details I can pass on! I could go on and on about the benefits of knowing at least some of the language, but you probably already know these benefits!

2. Make sure you live at least within the Third Ring (Beijing)

I for one didn’t make the decision to move to the massive city of Beijing to be housed out in the boring suburbs. Make sure your housing is at least within the third ring – you want to be where the action is! I used to live out in West Beijing and that one-hour subway journey into town really restricted my movement.

There was no spontaneous drinks at a bar– or popping over to this café to see a friend – everything had to be organised like a play date … I felt like I was 4 years old! I have some great real estate agents on Wechat if you’d like to get in touch/ or are unsure of where to live in Beijing.

3. Pack Lots of Staple Clothes

Buying clothes in Beijing/China is a pain – the sizes are all out of whack. You’ll purchase a large T-shirt only to find out that in reality it’s a small in the West. And the number of long socks I’ve bought to find out that on me they’re just ankle socks is ridiculous!Fellas (and ladies too) – buy and pack lots of comfy undies, T-shirts, socks, pants. I had to get my brother to ship me loads of socks from home as I just couldn’t find decent long black socks here.

4. Try to Maintain Healthy Habits

 My side hustle of a removal guy for some extra cash before I left meant I had a nice Thor body and I was really fit and healthy. Now, six months into my China journey I can’t say that this is still the case. The cheap tasty food and the social outings have got to me!

I got a gym membership but my routine and diet have gone down the drain. Now the common joke here is that everyone gains a few kilos after coming to China – which is completely fine. But you don’t want to gain too many! I’d definitely recommend trying to cook at least some of your meals here at home and signing up to a gym. The food in northern China is really oily and there’s just sooo much rice – this hasn’t been kind to my skin – so for sure cook some healthy meals at home and try to keep healthy habits when you get here.

5. Be Open Minded and Dynamic

I know this sounds like every influencer’s bio in Instagram but really you need to be in this global city, and in China more generally!

It’s too easy to stay in your ‘western bubble’ and not expose yourself to new things and people, keep speaking English and going to your favourite Irish pub full of other English speakers. But there’s no point of you living in Beijing then – it’s a waste of your time! You may as well be back at your parents’ place. Get out of your comfort zone and really make the most of living in this amazing country, and your city.

I hope you enjoy and take notice of these five tips before coming and starting your life here in Beijing/ China.

As always if you have any questions don’t hesitate to reach out to me via social media!


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