If you’re thinking about teaching English in China, you might find these things we’ve learnt along the way rather helpful. Your friends here at i-to-i TEFL are always looking to fill you with knowledge and inspiration!
*McDonalds not as standard
• It’s a good idea not to go ahead and take photos of any official person or place e.g. guards, police officers etc. If you REALLY want to, just check first
• When entering a house from off the street, make sure remove your shoes and either; put house shoes (e.g. slippers) on, or just wear your socks. The Chinese consider the ground that you walk on as dirty and therefore, it is offensive to have shoes on inside people’s houses or on their furniture.
• Table manners in China include; not using your hands when eating (unless explicitly expressed that you can) and whilst the Chinese don’t expect you to be a master at chopsticks they prefer you give it a go. It is also expected and good manners to fight for the bill at the end of a meal. (Note - don't actually FIGHT...)
• When giving an object to someone – big or small - it is considered proper and polite to use both hands when presenting the object. It is also expected that when being offered an object you accept in the same manner - with two hands
• In China some people smile when they are nervous, embarrassed or worried so it does not always portray happiness
• It’s a case of good news for smokers and not-so-good news for non-smokers. People smoke pretty much all over the place in China! Particularly in the case of male to male meetings, where it is considered polite to offer a cigarette when meeting somebody
• Sadly, public spitting is very common. Hearing the sound of somebody clearing their throat from way deep down and then spitting is unfortunately a daily occurrence! Increasingly in the big tourist attractions and the authorities are trying to change this, for example in Tiananmen Square. The best advice is to just accept and ignore this!
• The pace of life in China is slower and things can take longer to happen. There is no point in resisting this so relax, enjoy and gently push ahead with things!
• There are no real clothing restrictions in China, however, when it's important to dress respectfully when visiting temples, dress appropriately and don't show too much skin
• When out and about, carry toilet paper with you, as a lot of public toilets are squat toilets and often do not provide it – that does not mean you need to bring toilet paper to China… they have it there in the shops.
You can find even more useful information in our free guide to teaching English in China – download your free copy here!