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Chinese Language

The official language of China is Mandarin and a vast majority of the population uses it for both business and in their personal lives. English speaking rates are still relatively low with some exceptions in the major cosmopolitan areas. Mandarin can also be one of the most difficult languages to learn with literally thousands of symbols, each one meaning on thought or word. For ESL teachers wanting to learn the language it can appear a daunting task.

Often times for a new teacher, spending a month before traveling to China to learn the basics of the language can go a long way in setting up the building blocks for more effective learning when you arrive. There are numerous language exchange classes and clubs where you can learn more about the language while in China. ESL teachers often will go home with some of the most basic expressions and terms down.

The important thing to remember is that if you are based in one of the larger cities in China you will not have to know Mandarin to get around. Most signs are Romanized so you can easily understand them. In addition most public staff in Beijing know English as a result of the Olympic Games being held there. Many will pick up the rest of what they need from their friends and coworkers.


Some basic terms should be learned for classroom use as well. When working it is important not to use the local language even if you know it unless a determined part of the curicullum. However some terms that can be used for disciplinary reasons are often good for controlling the classroom and rowdy students.  

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