Life,  Work

The Truth about Teaching in China: The Bad

Teaching in China is full of positives, some foreigners even stay here for years, learn the language, understand the culture and call China their second home. Others, however, don’t last here long. As with everything in life, there is the good and the bad. This is the truth about teaching in China; the bad.


As mentioned in ‘the good’ teaching is well paid in China and the low cost of living makes it easy to save. The problem is getting your money out of the country, sometimes this isn’t easy. 

Some schools will employ you above board by paying your taxes for you. If this is the case, then you should have no issue sending your salary home each month to your home bank account. But even in this situation, there are still reams of paperwork to be filled out at the bank and the whole process can take a long time and be frustrating.

Some schools won’t be paying tax for you. This is so that they can offer you more money to attract you to their school. They will tell the taxman they are paying you less, but pay you what they agreed with you. In this situation getting your money out of China becomes an issue. 


Health is on the mind of every foreigner living in China. Most people that go are aware of the pollution problem in China and have decided that the experience is worth dealing with this problem. However, checking the air quality app daily and wearing a mask outside on bad days is no fun. If you have young children, then this worry would be magnified.

In China ‘fake’ or contaminated food is also still something to watch out for, however, cases seem to be fewer and farther between and the Chinese government is doing their best to fight it. Be aware of people trying to make a quick buck by selling something dodgy. 

Regulations in China may also differ or due to China’s size hazardous pesticides are harder to control, for example, you could consume fruit grown in chemicals that would not be allowed in your own countries. 

Another aspect of health whilst living in China are hospitals. Because of the language barrier and the size of some hospitals, seeing the doctor whilst sick can turn into a massive issue. 


Obviously, China is vast, but as we all know China also has a huge population. The fact that the large majority of the population are packed into the country’s cities means that some have become ‘megacities’. Megacities can be classed as a city with over 10 million inhabitants and China has 14 of these cities. Shanghai is the largest of these, home to 10 million more people than the population of Australia. 

With this amount of people fighting for space, you can get on top of each other. Politeness goes out of the window and pushing and shoving become the norm if you want to get anywhere. It’s not uncommon for someone to patiently push in front of you in a queue or to squeeze in so close to you in a confined space that their bodies are touching yours.


Teaching in China is definitely a good gig but there are negatives. Firstly, it’s important to make sure that you have a good contract and a reliable school. There are too many stories of schools bringing teachers into the country on the wrong visa and or teachers who are expected to do far too much for the school.

Certain schools also have a very business-focused attitude and teaching English to its students can come second. These schools can be frustrating to work for as things change regularly. Schools constantly trip over themselves trying to please parents, your demands will come second.

Some of these schools may also make your classes feel like performances in order to please parents. In these schools, more focus could be put on efficient lessons to help the students learn in the best way.

Difference in opinion

China has a long history and culture developing on its own separately with minimal influence from western cultures. Due to this some things about the Chinese way of looking at things are completely different from the West. These differences can be frustrating

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