How an English School Differs From a Chinese School – By Marc Wang, 13
If you’ve been teaching in England and have decided to continue that career in China, one thing you should know is that the systems are very different.
The first main difference that exists from kindergarten all the way to universities is the number of students in each class. In England the average class holds around 26 pupils, however in China, a single class can contain 50 students. This means to truly teach well in China, you need to catch the attention of the entire class because in such a big class students can become distracted very easily.
The teachers in China are also usually stricter than the teachers in England and due to this the students are often a lot more obedient. In England, you would walk into a classroom seeing children being active, talking to friends, walking around the classroom, clamouring in whatever way and often disobeying the teachers instructions. So when you start teaching in China, don’t be surprised if the kids listen to your every word and are quiet in class. Chinese schools carve obedience and respect for teachers into their pupils from a young age, which is a great method to maintain quietness during lessons. However, sometimes students may be too quiet for their benefits and often they would skip out the option of answering a question for fear of giving the wrong answer or they lack the understanding of a certain topic but refuse to speak of it due to open embarrassment in front of the class. So it’s almost the opposite of European schools – in China the students are not loud and disruptive but too quiet!
The teaching method also varies, In England the teacher would lay down some fundamentals on a topic, then let the students learn as they work their way through different exercises. In this case the teacher would setup activities to engage the pupils and allow them to learn on their own while participating. However in China students are more used to all the facts handed to them for memorization. A teacher would normally teach mostly everything in a topic before the pupils attempt exercises, and the learning system is more based on memorizing solid facts, less interactive. So while the students are certainly more used to just memorizing information, it is also good to add in a bit of interaction.
A small thing new teachers aren’t always adapted to is changing classrooms. In China the teachers move rooms instead of the students, so none of the teachers have a permanent workspace in the classrooms, therefore it is wise to bag all your teaching essentials for easy transportation.
These are just some of the differences you’ll encounter teaching in China, and hopefully you have learned how to adapt to the changes.