Ten Fun Facts About Teaching in China {What It Is Actually Not}


This my 17th Spring Festival in China, and after teaching here for as many years I thought it would be fun to share some facts with you. This post is about Ten Fun Facts about Teaching in China, however, it is actually how teaching in China is not what you thought it would be!

Fact #1:

Teaching in China is NOT boring! It can actually be quite fun: children truly adore foreign teachers, and if you get to experience lots of new thing.

Fact #2:

Your bachelor’s degree is NOT enough. You need to get a TEFL certificate which is a requirement for a work permit application.

Fact #3:

Your schedule is NOT stable. You can definitely some last minute changes. Oh, it can be frustrating but if you set your mind on flexibility – you will adapt fast!

Fact #4:

You CAN’T expect that everyone will be doing things like it is “back home”. Get ready to the unexpected: yes, sometimes it is like being in the outer space, exploring new planets.

Fact #5:

NOT all your students are interested in foreign teacher classes. Many of them are too preoccupied with scoring high scores in Math and Chinese, hence you will see a lot of snoozing in your lesson, or someone quickly doing their homework. Go easy on them! Just make your lessons fun enough for them to follow.

Fact #6:

Your contract is NOT written in stone. In fact, you will definitely be asked to perform some demo classes and participate in activities that are not listed in your contract. Make sure to clarify all little details, and discuss possible and impossible scenarios. Better yet – you should have it all in writing. Refer to Fact #4.

Facts #7:

Teaching in China is NOT the same as teaching back home. For instance, unless you are a lead subject teacher, or work in an international school, you will not be expected to attend parent-teacher conferences, nor really grade your students. Big relief, huh? I know! It was a huge change for me: coming to short lessons plans from pages of lesson plans and feedback for each student I had to write at home!

Fact #8:

People DON’T always mean what they say. Oh no, I don’t mean they are liars! Quite the opposite: I see Chinese overall as quite pure-hearted people who will do what they promise to do. Of course, it doesn’t always work for employer-employee relationship. But this fact is not about that. It is about … a bargain. Yes, Chinese love bargain, you will see it from students, parents, and your co-workers. So if someone says “let me do it”, they may not necessarily know how to do it, and they will definitely be relieved if you finally take charge as you originally suggested. They are really just being polite! But if you do agree with them taking charge of that task, they will do it at their best capacity.

Fact #9:

Your students are NOT spoiled brats. They really are not. You set the rules from the first time you enter the classroom, and since it is in their nature to follow rules, with your consistency they will absolutely follow them.

Fan #10:

Your perception of whole life in China is about to be changed! I knew so many Chinese friends and lived near Chinese border for years. Yet, from the moment I stepped my foot on China soil, I had such change of heart. I had a huge culture shock (keep in mind, that was 17 years ago, China changed SO much since then). But within a year and a half I couldn’t wait to come back here. So 17 years and counting, I love what I do!

I wish you a happy and a prosperous Spring Festival! May the year of Dog bring you lots of joy and good beginnings. If you set your heart on moving to China to teach here in the year of Dog – good for you. And I wish you Good Luck!


Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs

Welcome to our fourth annual Chinese New Year blog hop! Lunar New Year, more commonly known as Chinese New Year, starts on February 16. It is the beginning of the Year of the Dog, and we have lots of great ideas for celebrating it with kids! Don’t miss our series from last year, 2016 and 2015, and you can find even more on our Chinese New Year Pinterest board:


Participating Blogs

Creative World of Varya on Multicultural Kid Blogs: Earth Dog Year Fun Facts
Bicultural Mama: Chinese Soup Dumplings (Xiǎo Lóng Bāo): What They Are and How to Eat
Crafty Moms Share: The Year of the Dog
Miss Panda Chinese
Creative World of Varya: Ten Fun Facts about Teachin in China {What It Is Actually Not}
the gingerbread house: Simple Chinese New Year Lantern Craft for Kids to Make
ChrissyJee.com: Healthy Ways to Celebrate Chinese New Year

Chinese New Year Math and Literacy Unit Review

Becky CNY Pack

Being a blogger means having lots of wonderful blogger friends.

I have previously introduced to you an amazing blogger friend of mine – Becky – who blogs at Kid World Citizen and shares the most amazing content on multiculturalism, multilingualism and globalization.

Today I am happy to introduce to you Becky’s TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers) shop where she shared this wonderful Unit on New Year Math and Literacy.

This Unit packet is aimed at children of PreK to Grade 1 and it is so well structured – I was really sitting and adoring it for a moment from a teacher’s point of view.

This Unit is also suitable for homeschoolers – the instructions are simple and easy and anyone can follow them.

First of all, the Unit contains a great introduction to Chinese New Year – its history and traditions. It is really enough to give the children a proper introduction to this holiday and leave them interested and excited about upcoming activities.

The Unit starts with sight words related to this holiday, continues with counting, goes onto mazes and words scrambles; and ends with a fun activity on making a Chinese red envelo

I liked that the material can be easily adjusted to different age groups and levels of math and literacy. E.g. in counting part while suggested to count the blossoms by ten, for younger children it can be changed to counting blossoms by a number of branches (hence, the teacher/parent needs to just change the numbers).

And in the part of where the sight words are introduced, instead of learning to spell and memorize them, younger children can just use the first letter/phonic for recognition.

Another wonderful thing about this particular Unit is that it doesn’t really have to be used for just Chinese New Year time. It can be used throughout the year and adjusted according to one’s needs. It introduces an essence of China and will be a great hit with kids any time of the year!

The Year of the Monkey Door Decoration Printable

Monkey Printable title image 1
As I mentioned so many times before, Chinese New Year in China is a huge deal. It is also a big deal for many countries where Chinese population is rapidly growing.
This year Kid Blogger Network bloggers have joined up again to bring you some fun ideas with our Chinese New Year Blog Hop!
Today I am sharing with you beautiful printable door decoration for the Year of the Monkey which you can print out and hang outside your door, or anywhere in your house. You can also choose to print it out in black and white and decoration with your children.
Please click on the image below to open a .pdf file and download your printable!
PDF snapshot
I would also like to take a moment and summer up all the post I have so far shared with you for this wonderful Festival! Living in China and avoiding Chinese New Year is pretty much impossible. But even then – besides the crazy fireworks – who wants to avoid it??? It is so beautiful and brings people together!
So, here are my all-time posts on Chinese New Year!
I wish you a happy Chinese New Year / Spring Festival / Lunar New Year!

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Hong Bao La Lai!

cny blog hop 2016 vertical
Please join us in this blog hop hosted by Peakle Pie and link your favorite blog posts dedicated to Chinese New Year!
Below is the list of all the blogs that participated!
the gingerbread house shared a cute Chinese New Year paper plate monkey
KiddyCharts shared these wonderful Dragon colouring pages
Kelly’s Classroom shared a brilliant Year of the Monkey Coloring Sheet
Peakle Pie shared a striking Red Monkey Mask
Witty Hoots shared these colourful Chinese New Year Lucky Fish
Kidz Activities shared this awesome Monkey Paper Bag Puppet
Creative World of Varya shared this adorable Year of the Monkey Door Hanger
Mama Smiles shared some favourite Monkey Picture Books
In The Playroom a musical Chinese New Year Shaker Craft
Play & Learn Everyday shared these festive Chinese New Year Mini Lanterns
Simple Fun for Kids shared a great game with Chinese New Year I Spy Game

Popular Gift Ideas for Chinese New Year


Photo credit - Jan Stowers

Every year I try to write a post dedicated to a very special holiday in a country where we live – China.

Chinese New Year (also known as CNY, Lunar New Year or Spring Festival) and it comes in many colors, decorations, celebrations and, of course, money spent on new clothes and gifts.

It so happens that the vacation that follows CNY is usually one of the longest for working people and it is time to get together with family and old friends.

Many expats will traveling home for this time and so I decided to share a list of most popular items people  buy to take back home.

1. Everything related to tea: actual tea, tea sets, tea pets. You can get those in many places, but do ask your local friend if there is a good tea market in the area – they sell at wholesale prices and you might be able to find items that are not available in stores.

Note: Good Chinese tea packed in a beautiful box would make a great present to your local friends or colleagues!

2. Chinese silk. Everything from scarves, to qi-pao, to tablecloths, to shirts. The silk is not always natural but the designs are gorgeous and popular abroad.

3. Jewelry. I am not talking gold. I am talking local beaded necklaces, earrings, real and fake pearls; and real and fake jade. Small pendants shaped like Zodiac animals fall into this category, as well as the phone and key chains with translucent jade.

4. Bags. Chinese have come up with tons of own brands as well as fake designers stuff. It is hard to miss them in the markers and getting a Coach for 20 USD would definitely make you suspicious about the authenticity.

Note: I would personally advise against buying fake designers stuff if you are going back to Europe and North America since border control just might confiscate them and make you pay a fine.

5. Chinese name stamps. Those are made in a lot of markets. They can be fairly cheap and they are hugely popular.

6. Other gift items: chopsticks, fans, Chinese knots, famous quotes carved on wood or painted on canvas, small paintings on thin paper with traditional designs (double fish, flowers, nature and more).

If you are getting parents for your local friends, avoid getting clocks, knives and such. Best gifts to bring to your local friends home for Chinese New Year are fruit, tea, flowers and Western baked goods!

These are about all that I have managed to gather. There were lots more suggestions from my friends but I will let you add to the list!

Chinese New Year Special: A Little Mandarin {CD Review}

Little Mandarin
Just as I promised in my previous post on Chinese New Year: An Expat’s Experience – today I am giving you a review along with a chance to enter a contest to win some exciting prizes!
Disclaimer: I was sent a free copy of the CD in exchange for a review. All opinions and wording are my own, except for the bit on the campaign at the end of this post.
Living in China and having a child going to an all Chinese kindergarten I always wanted to learn some Chinese children’s songs. Even back when I was teaching English in kindergartens I learned some simply rhymes and chants and translated them into English to encourage children to speak English more and to make it more fun and interesting for them.
When A Little Mandarin‘s team approached me to do the review of their CD, I was very excited – it is a great chance to learn more about Chinese children’s songs!
I must say we all loved the songs. You see, Tony Wang, the creator of A Little Mandarin CD, took well-known Chinese nursery rhymes and songs, added some fantastic beat to them and sang them herself with her clear and pleasant voice.
I would absolutely recommend this CD to friends and family: the tunes are easy on the ear and very catchy. Learning these songs and singing them along does open up a tiny crack in the window into the Chinese culture. And it definitely keeps me personally more in tune with the songs my oldest daughter learns at school as these are well-known and very much loved songs Chinese children know. 
With the Chinese New Year fast approaching, do check out A Little Mandarin’s store page – you can purchase a hard copy or download the songs on iTunes, Amazon and Google Playstore.
Chinese New Year Campaign From Little Mandarin:
We are offering, publicly, a FREE download of our Happy New Year song!
To enter our contest we are asking participants to:
Post a video of themselves/ their kids singing the Happy NY song on our Facebook page.
The Video with the most combined likes/ shares WINS
Prize: an ALM prize pack with a copy of the CD, 10 ALM rubber bracelets and a rattle drum (shipped anywhere)
You can download the song here:
The lyrics in English/Pinyin/Simplified Chinese are available on our website and posted on the LYRICS page of the website.
Follow A Little Mandarin on Twitter!

Chinese New Year: An Expat’s Experience {MKB Chinese New Year Series 2015}

This week is all about upcoming Chinese New Year! I have recently published a craft activity – Chinese New Year Card; and I have one more post coming up to review a great CD I got from Little Mandarin! So stay tuned!
Today’s post is a part of MKB Chinese New Year series which started in January and is going to end right about the Lantern Festival in March. 
I have already shared with you on celebration of Chinese New Year here in Zhuhai and Hong Kong and Macau. 
Today I just wanted to talk a little more about the importance of Chinese New Year (or rather known as Spring Festival) to Chinese people. 
This Festival has been celebrated in China for over 4000 years. And needless to say, it is a very old holiday which is especially treasured here. 
There are many different things people do for CNY decorations and food wise. And those vary from province to province and get changed and altered with time. However, 2 traditions that never change are cleaning before CNY and gathering with the family.
Cleaning wise it gets absolutely crazy here: roads are renovated, malls get thorough cleaning, schools and offices get places cleaned that haven’t been cleaned for year. And besides, everyone puts around gorgeous decorations: lanterns, stickers on their doors and hanging decorations on trees and gates. Beautiful statues are made, flowers are planted. 


Family gatherings are really something: the whole day on CNY eve everyone cooks and cooks and cooks. Families finally sit down for a meal around 6-6.30 and you would be surprised at the number of dishes. In general, in China people make and order more food than they can eat. But apparently, it comes from the times of hunger and having a lot of food on the table, no matter how simple, is a sign of prosperity and generosity. The picture below is not from CNY, but just a small example of some things you would see on a typical Chinese table.


After the meal, families usually watch TV shows, share stories, have snacks (fruit, seeds, dried eatables, like cookies and nuts). Around 8-9pm everyone goes out to play with firecrackers. It gets awfully noisy but very beautiful as the dark skies are lighted with gorgeous firework designs.
After 14 years in China, observing people during CNY, I can’t say too much changed: it is always the same pre-new year rush for shopping and gifts (traditional gifts are fruit baskets, seeds, nuts, special cookies, sometimes alcohol and red clothes; also, if you are born on that particular year – as in, if it is your Chinese Zodiac year – you have to wear red undergarments for CNY to bring yourself and your family luck!). And it is the same happiness and joy: people around here work hard and they only get to see their families once or twice a year. Some migrant workers leave their children back in their hometown so for them CNY is especially important as they get to see their little ones. 
If you ask me, out of the traditional holidays, I prefer CNY  as compared to NY and Christmas  –  it is just so colorful and special.
Chinese New Year | Multicultural Kid Blogs
This post is part of the Chinese New Year series and giveaway on Multicultural Kid Blogs. Enter our giveaway to win one of these great prize packages, and don’t forget to link up your own posts about Chinese New Year on our main page!
Giveaway begins Jan. 21 and goes through midnight ET on March 5, 2015. Enter below for a chance to win! Remember you can make a comment on the blog post of a different co-host each day for an additional entry.
First Prize Package
All About China
From Tuttle Publishing, All About China: Take the whole family on a whirlwind tour of Chinese history and culture with this delightfully illustrated book that is packed with stories, activities and games. Travel from the stone age through the dynasties to the present day with songs and crafts for kids that will teach them about Chinese language and the Chinese way of life.
Long-Long's New Year
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Long-Long’s New Year, a beautifully illustrated picture book about a little Chinese boy named Long-Long, who accompanies his grandfather into the city to sell cabbages in order to buy food and decorations for the New Year. Selling cabbages is harder than Long-Long expects, and he encounters many adventures before he finds a way to help his grandfather, and earn New Year’s treats for his mother and little cousin.
A Little Mandarin
From A Little Mandarin, a CD featuring a collection of Chinese children’s classics – songs loved by families in China for generations – given new life with a contemporary sound and voice. The 15 tracks fuse rock, pop, dance, ska, and hip hop influences with playful lyrics to make it a unique and fun learning companion for all ages. Featured on Putumayo Kids Presents World Sing-Along.
Second Prize Package
US shipping only
Celebrating the Chinese New Year
From Tuttle Publishing, Celebrating the Chinese New Year, in which Little Mei’s grandfather tells her the stories of Nian and the monster Xi for Chinese New Year.
The Sheep Beauty
Also from Tuttle Publishing, The Sheep Beauty, which brings to life the kindness and generosity of those born under the sign of the sheep in the Chinese zodiac.
Chinese Zodiac Animals
Also from Tuttle Publishing, Chinese Zodiac Animals, a fun and informative way to learn about the ancient Chinese Zodiac, explaining the traits of each animal sign and what luck the future might hold for the person born under that sign.
Monkey Drum
From Tiny Tapping Toes, a monkey drum, plus a free pdf of a craft version. World Music children’s performer DARIA has spent the last two decades performing in the USA and around the world, creating music to inspire all the world’s children and allowing children to become a part of the celebration and the fun of exploring world cultures.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Chinese New Year Card

CNY title
Chinese New Year (also known as Spring Festival, or Lunar New Year) is celebrated in many countries of the world. So this year some members of KBN decided to create a blog hop to commemorate this wonderful festival.
The year 2015 is the year of the Sheep (Goat or Ram). So in order to relate to this particular year, I have created an activity I made with children in my ESL classes: Chinese New Year Card. It is a simple and fun activity, aimed at children from the age of 3+ to 8 years old. You can use this activity to celebrate any Chinese Zodiac Animal.
If you want to know which Chinese Zodiac Animal falls on a certain year, check this article from Wikipedia.
I also like this video from DreamEnglish.Com that teaches children about Chinese Zodiac Signs:
So, let’s make the card! It has 2 sides: 1 side is an ornament made by weaving method; another side has a Chinese character for Sheep:
The picture is the courtesy of Han Trainer Pro
Materials needed:


Construction paper – 2 pieces of different sizes (I used a quarter of A3 paper for the card and 1/8 of A3 paper for the ornament)
Stripes made of softer paper (I had a kind of crepe paper, but slightly thicker, which I cut into 5 stripes for the ornament of one color; and stripes that will be used to make the character representing the world “sheep” or “goat”)
1. Fold the smaller piece in half, then fold the top where the opening is a bit. Cut 5-6 times until that fold (so the cuts remain within the paper but you don’t cut off the pieces).
2. Open the paper and take the stripes you made for weaving and start weaving. I taught the children words “over” and “under” in order to introduce the weaving technique. You should get this result:


3. Now, use some glue and stick the pattern in the middle of the bigger piece of construction paper, like this:



4. Let’s turn the bigger piece around and create the character by sticking the pieces you made for it onto the surface. It will look somewhat like this:


Note: younger children will need a lot of help with both weaving and character making!
5. You can give the card to your friends, family members or teachers. You can also add a string and hang the card up!
We are looking forward to Chinese New Year as my husband and my daughter get 2 weeks off for it!
Please visit the landing page over at Pickle Pie to learn more about this blog hop!
Check the list of participating blogs below:
Chinese New Year Fortune God Mask from Witty Hoots
Chinese Lantern Sun Catchers from The Gingerbread House
TP Roll Chinese Lanterns from In the Playroom
Thumbprint Chinese Zodiac Craft for Kids from Fun Handprint Art
Cheese Chinese Lanterns from Danya Banya
Wool Painted Fans from Crafts on Sea
Sheep Stick Puppets from Best Toys 4 Toddlers
Felt Shape Sheep from Mama Smiles
Sheep Letter Recognition from Something 2 Offer
Chinese (non firework) Firecrackers from Peakle Pie
Chinese New Year Card from Creative World of Varya
Chinese Dragon Puppets from Messy Little Monster
Paper Plate Chinese Dragon from Kiddy Charts
Dragon Painting for Preschoolers from Learning and Exploring Through Play
Bubble Wrap Sheep Craft from Multicraftingmummy
Chinese Dragon Dance from Study at Home Mamma
Chinese Zodiac Animals in Lego from Planet Smarty Pants

  Link your activities and craft for Chinese New year below:    

Creative Tuesday: Snow Flower

After a break, I am back with Creative Tuesday and hope to bring more interesting activities and crafts!

snow flower

In China people celebrate Spring Festival, also known as Chinese New Year, usually end of January-beginning of February. It is considered a time when we say good-bye to winter and welcome Spring. This year Spring Festival day falls on January 31st. To celebrate the end of winter, I created this simple, yet engaging craft – Snow Flower.
What you need:
Few cotton balls
A paper cup
How to make it:
Cut the sides of the cup down to the bottom into 8 parts.
Open the sides and turn the cup bottom up – facing you.
Brush the glue over the parts, pinch small pieces of cotton and stick them over.

snowflower 1

When finished, take crayons and color the middle. I asked the children to color with different crayons in layers. It creates a very nice combination of colors!
You can also add a ribbon or a thread on the side to hang your Snow Flower.
snow flower 2
This activity helps develop hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills. And of course, it encourages creativity!

Christmas In Different Land: Christmas Spirit In China

Do you celebrate Christmas? How do you celebrate it? I’ve written earlier that we don’t really celebrate Christmas but we love Christmas Gawking! As ESL teachers, we do of course teach our children about Christmas and make Christmas activities. Last year we made Hand-printed Christmas Tree, and this year – Christmas Lanterns.

In China Christmas is not an official holiday but you feel the spirit as everything gets decorated and starts sparkling, spiced by Christmas carols, from around the beginning of November!

Supermarkets are filled with Christmas decorations: trees, ornaments, small Santa dolls, Snowmen, Santa hats, tinsel and more!

In schools Christmas is only celebrated in kindergarten levels. And in some primary schools, early grades. After that children simply have no time for any festivities!

In my post I want to “walk” you through how everything looks here during months of November – December. From January things start getting ready for Chinese New Year, so shortly after New Year’s holidays all of these get taken down.

Most of these pictures are taken in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, where we live, and some – in Macao, which is just next door.

christmas china

Christmas trees around here are gorgeous! And people go out of their to decorate and create a festive atmosphere!

christmas china1

If Christmas is celebrated by some families, it is usually associated with dinner out with friends, Santa and presents, games and tons of fun! This particular party was organized by us, a bunch of parents, to celebrate Christmas and New Year.

christmas china2

Our daughter for ones loves posing in front of all the beautiful decorations! These are some dear memories to keep for years to come!

christmas china3

Most of kindergartens would have their morning exercise associated with Christmas. Like here, children wear Santa hats and dance along the Christmas carols! It is so much fun!

christmas china4

Ah, this is such a sweet memory. At some point in 2011 I taught English at a Charity Federation. They organized a lovely Christmas party for the children from low income and single-parent families, with snack and children showing off their talents. And boy, they ARE talented! Their voices, abilities to play various instruments. It was probably the best Christmas party ever!

christmas china5

These are just some decorations around Zhuhai and Macao. In Macao Christmas is an official holiday and schools go on Christmas vacation for 2 weeks. Macao used to be a Portuguese colony and after rejoining China, they were allowed to keep their life pace and holidays. China looks no less festive even though there is no official holiday nor vacation.

Jian Cai December 2009

And these are decorations from a kindergarten where my husband used to work at. Chinese teachers spend hours decorating and beautifying the classrooms. It just makes children happy to see all these beautiful ornaments and trees!

I hope you enjoyed this little tour of seeing what Christmas Spirit does in China. Leave a comment on how you celebrate – I’d love to know!



Stop by these other blogs who participate in Christmas in Different Land organized by members of Multicultural Kid Blogs!

December 1 – Multicultural Kid Blogs, Introduction

December 2 –  Mama Smiles, USA

December 3 –  Afterschool for Smarty Pants, Russia

December 4 – Laugh and Learn, Ukraine

December 5 – Expat Life with a Double Buggy, Netherlands

December 6 – Glittering Muffins, Germany

December 7 – Inspired By Familia Magazine, Latin America

December 8-  Kid World Citizen, Mexico

December 9 – Kid Yoga Stories, Australia

December 10 – Desu Mama, Cuba

December 11 – La Famille Brown, UK

December 12 – All Done Monkey, Costa Rica

December 13 – Creative World of Varya, China

December 14  –  Busy as a Bee in Paris, France

December 15 – Spanglish House, Bolivia

December 16 –  Glittering Muffins, Quebec, Canada

December 17 –  Dad’s the way I like it, UK and Ireland

December 18  – Head Of The Heard, Brazil

December 19 –  Mama Smiles, Sweden

December 20 – Multilingual Parenting, Finland

December 21 – Open Wide The World, Phillipines

December 22 – European Mama for Kid World Citizen, Poland

December 23 – Crafty Moms Share, Jamaica

December 24 – Multicultural Kid Blogs, Conclusion