China has an estimated 70,000 vacancies for foreign teacher across the nation as a whole. Obviously the need for TEFL teachers spreads further than the well known mega cities of Beijing and shanghai and there are countless positions in smaller cities that you may of never even heard of. Here’s why you should seriously ponder teaching English in a smaller, lesser known Chinese city.
Great Chinese learning environment
Logic dictates that smaller cities with smaller western populations will contain an environment with less English language used and a higher reliance on using native Chinese. Locals will speak less English and less English translations will be visible in shops, bars and on road signs. This, although daunting at first puts you in a challenging situation where you are required to learn Chinese, pushing you to learn where other English speaking cities would allow you be be lazy. If you’re serious about learning Chinese then the more immersive the environment the better.
As smaller cities find it more difficult to recruit quality TEFL teachers often a factor used to help pull talent from afar is an increase in wages. Some schools in China in smaller tier 3 cities have been known to pay in excess of 9000 RMB per month for a 20 hour week. If you can live off the beaten track you could find yourself being well compensated for doing so.
Feel more Valuable
Larger cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou have an abundance of foreigners arriving through their gates every week looking to make a living from teaching English. The downside of this is due to classic theory of supply and demand, we know that when there are more foreign teachers looking for work the ones employed are valued less. This means that you will have to work harder and be valued less in a larger city.
On the other hand, working as a minority westerner in a city with only a small foreign population can mean you are valued much more highly by your employer, your students and you peers. Imagine the feeling of being the first western face some of your students have ever seen. Imagine the buzz of being treated like a celebrity and its not surprising why many teachers leave the busy rat race of the larger cities to settle down into a calmer, more valued working life.
Finally, working in a city less well traveled has a sense of adventure that you only get with new destinations ‘off the beaten track’. If you want to see something that few tourists have. Or experience way of life from a truly local point of view. Then a smaller Chinese city is for you.