Advices for ESL teachers learning Mandarin in China!


With the developing of Chinese economic, Mandarin has become one of the most popular languages in the world.  More and More foreigners come to China to study Chinese. That’s also one of the main reasons that ESL teachers like to teach English in China.


As we all know, the best and most efficient way to learn a language is to live in that language-spoken country. That’s why more and more foreigners like to work in China or study in China.  Then, teaching English in China has become one of the most popular jobs.


Mandarin is one of the most difficult languages to learn in the world, especially for westerner.  Since Mandarin belongs to a different language system with western language, it’s tough for westerner to get into a new language system.  Therefore, if the learners can get into the Mandarin language environment, it is really helpful for them to study Mandarin.  However, a language environment is not enough for foreigners to learn Mandarin well.  I have some foreign friends who are learning Mandarin in China while they are teaching English in China. They have different learning experience.


One of my friends comes from Jamaica and can speak four languages. Mandarin is the fifth language that she is going to get.  She has enrolled an online Mandarin class and also learned by herself. I have to admit that she has a great talented at languages and works hard on Mandarin. The class she enrolls is a one-to one Mandarin class, which has two classes one week.  She told me that before she enrolled the class, she learned Mandarin by herself.  Compared with learning by herself, the Mandarin teacher brings more to her. The teacher not only can correct her pronunciation, but also can practice with her. Moreover, the teacher can tell her what she heard during her daily life.  Her class goes faster than other students; therefore the teacher makes an individual plan for her.  She told me that the teacher is really good, but the only concern is that she doesn’t have enough time to practice and the class time is the only time for her to practice.  Since she has gotten part-time teaching jobs expect her full-time job, her schedule is very busy. Plus, most of her colleagues prefer to speak English with her, not Mandarin. She could not speak Mandarin with her students, either.  The people she can practice are really limited, only to other local people.  From her case, we can see that although the language environment is important to a language beginner, it is not enough to get a new language well. To learn a new language, the learner has to commit more time to practice and get himself/herself into the local community.


Living in a small city is also a good way to learn a new language, especially in China. Many ESL teachers seek teaching English jobs in small cities, since they would like to master Mandarin quickly, not only give them a language environment, but also force them to speak Mandarin. As we all know, most foreigners like to go to big cities, since there are more foreigners living and working there. Then, they can find some foreigners from their own country, get some new friends and release their homesick.  In some big cities, the foreigners even do not need to speak Mandarin, English is enough for them to work or live there.  Therefore, it’s easy for the ESL teachers who are the first time to teach in China to work and live in a big city in China. There are many other reasons that the foreigners like to go to big cities too.


After we talked about the big cities, let me introduce small cities to you. I would recommend my clients go to small cities if they want to seek a teaching English job in China. Why?  First, you can experience the authentic Chinese life in small cities. As we all know, big cites has multi-culture environment. The local culture has emerged with western culture.  Although you are living in China, you may feel like that you are living in other big cities too sometimes.  However, the life in small city is different. The life in small cities is slower than the life in big cites. You can see from their walking. It’s almost the same for every country. Small cities have a more relaxed life than big cites. In the small cites, you can go to the local market and bargain with the dealer, which is really helpful with your Mandarin.  You can also have gotten many part-time jobs, since there are not many foreigners in that city. Your neighbors may get you some cooking food and make friends with you. If you want to learn Mandarin, the small cities definitely are the best option for you.


At the last, let’s talk about the issue that when you are studying Mandarin in China, you should enroll a class or learn by yourself.  Most foreigners will learn by himself/herself when they are working or living in China.  If you have plenty of time to practice, I’d like to recommend you to study by yourself. And you’d better find a Chinese friend who can correct your pronunciation sometimes. Or getting a language exchange friend is also helpful for your Mandarin. If you don’t have enough time, you’d better enrolled an online class or get a local teacher, who can get you a Mandarin class and practice with you.


No matter why you’re coming to China to teach English, it’s a great opportunity for you to get a useful language while you’re teaching English in China.  Finding a way that is suitable for you is really helpful to learn the language.