Is becoming a Chinese teacher your dream job? It’s definitely a job with growing demand!
High school and college students, professionals and precocious children…Chinese is a language that’s popular with every age and the statistics speak for themselves…
China also has the second largest economy in the world, and Mandarin is the most spoken language worldwide. Set against that background, it seems clear that the demand for Chinese classes and teachers is only set to grow.
Have you set your heart on teaching a complex modern language?
Of course, the first step is gaining perfect mastery over the language that you want to teach, and then looking at the different routes to teacher certification.
Now let’s get serious, and have a look at the best way to become a Mandarin Chinese teacher.
If you want to become a licensed teacher, studying Chinese first is a must.
Most modern language teachers in the United States follow the same academic route, no matter which state they’re hoping to teach in. If you’ve decided to become a Chinese teacher, but have only just started learning the language in middle or high school, here’s what we’d recommend.
The key stages in your journey to becoming a Mandarin Chinese teacher will see you go as far as a Masters!
And, if you want to teach at a college, maybe a Ph.D.! (Although certainly not required to teach Chinese in high school)
Here are a few more details for your academic preparations:
Did you decide to become a Chinese teacher at a later stage and missed following our suggested program of study?
There’s nothing to stop you from still becoming a Chinese teacher, there are plenty of other options. They might be a bit more indirect, but it’s totally still possible to teach Mandarin Chinese without a college degree.
Learning the Chinese language will also expose you to a civilization that has lasted for millennia.
The first thing to do if you’ve already gotten a college degree (just not in a related subject), but are fluent in Mandarin Chinese – think about if there’s a way for you to get some teaching and classroom experience and prepare to take your state’s teacher certification exam. There’s generally no rule that you need to have majored in a certain subject, just that you have a degree, so if you’re qualified to teach and just lack the certification, you just need to do a bit of self-study.
However, if you’d struggle to pass the teacher certification exam (and even some students who’ve majored in education often need several tries to pass), you can still sign up with your local school district to become a substitute teacher. Given that you want to focus on a specific subject, you’re probably best off looking for long-term sub jobs (covering for extended illness or maternity leave) in several school districts in your area.
If neither of the first two solutions seems like an option, you can always still become a private tutor and begin offering independent Chinese lessons.
It’s a fairly unregulated option – there’s no set background, certification, or degree required in order to be a tutor. However, you will need self-discipline, organization and a good sense of teaching methods and learning styles in order to serve your students well.
Setting yourself up as a private tutor can definitely seem like an attractive option. You can avoid overcrowded classrooms and focus on one student at a time – it’s a great way to start out at your own pace.
And finally, if you’re looking for a salaried job with benefits, you might want to have a look at jobs with local learning and language centers. If you’re bilingual in Mandarin or a native speaker, you may be just what they’re looking for.
Do you want to teach Chinese as a private tutor?
You will almost certainly recognize yourself in one of our common profiles below…
Among all the experts we see on our site, we often see a wide range of backgrounds among Chinese teachers!
You can teach your students Chinese calligraphy
Depending on your background, you just need to define your strengths (and weaknesses) to identify which students you are best prepared to help in their quest to learn Chinese. As well as college and high school students, there are also many professional adults who choose to take up Mandarin or who want to refresh rusty language skills ahead of a business project, travel plans, or simple interest.
Before you start offering Chinese classes in New York City (or elsewhere) spend some time thinking about this question!
Teaching often takes skills and knowledge far beyond a linguistic mastery of the language. Knowing your own strengths and weaknesses will prepare you to improve the quality of your Chinese classes (and to recognize if perhaps it just isn’t the career for you).
Of course, the foundation is having a perfect mastery of the Chinese language – written as well as spoken – and a wealth of knowledge to share about Chinese history, culture, and art. It’s absolutely essential to be bilingual, and also to have a good level of general knowledge about the country and its culture.
Teaching is also a state of being. Among the most important qualities to have if you want to become an excellent Chinese teacher, the most important are:
This list isn’t exhaustive, but in order to be a good teacher, it’s crucial that you know how to listen to your students and be motivated to help them improve as well as keep them encouraged as they struggle. A good professor doesn’t only have the knowledge to impart but also needs charisma and the skill of a good orator in order to share their passion for the language.
You’ll be much more successful as a Mandarin teacher with some charisma and a passion for sharing knowledge!
Some of these qualities are innate, while others are ones that you can work on. But in every case, there’ll be some areas you need to work on, whether it’s teaching skills or the finer points of the Chinese language.
You’ll need to become experienced at finding the right materials and adapting your classes to your students, depending on their:
Your ability to offer your students multiple ways to learn the same thing will give them a better chance of absorbing the lesson.
Teaching methods are often taught at the undergraduate and masters levels, but it’s also possible to work independently to improve your teaching skills, and we’d strongly recommend that you do. While you can’t change your innate personality, a good teacher can learn about the many different learning styles and teaching methods which will make teaching a Chinese class better structured and more effective.
A good pedagogic background will help a tutor organize their classes, and adapt their lessons to the level and personal objectives of the students.
Regarding teaching the Chinese language specifically, it is important to be rigorous on the fine points of the language and make sure your students master the details of this complicated language. It’s easy to feel discouraged when faced with the enormity of this task.
Becoming a private tutor for Chinese requires an important investment in classes and an outside of them.
In order to teach Chinese, there are multiple options out there for you, but the most important thing is to have a realistic idea of the job, both its positives and the difficulties you will face.