Teaching has challenges and concerns that can be unique to each culture. For example, teaching English in Mexico compared to teaching English in China can be very different experiences for both the teacher and the students in the classroom. I believe that key challenges to teaching ESL in China will be adapting to different learning styles, classroom behavior, and general culture barriers.
In western countries, it is a common learning style for students to speak up and engage with the teacher. This includes asking questions, responding to questions, and actively engaging in classroom discussions. However, this is not always the case for students who have grown up in Asian countries including China. It is common for these students to regard the teacher as a regal authority figure that one should not speak up to. As a result, these students may be hesitant to ask questions, respond to questions, or participate in classroom discussions. Thus one of the challenges to teaching ESL in China is to engage the students to speak up, a key component of effective learning. Students in Asian countries including China are also typically used to traditional learning techniques such as memorization or copying facts. In this case, activities such as creative writing may be challenges for many students who are not use this style of learning. Both encouraging active classroom engagement and accessing creativity are important factors to consider when teaching ESL in China.
Another substantial challenge to consider when teaching ESL in China includes managing the classroom effectively. Classroom management is a challenge in every culture. However, effective classroom management strategies will vary by culture. Techniques used in western culture include small rewards, time-outs, detention, and notices to the parents and/or principal. However, these techniques may or may not work for classroom management in China. There may be a different set of strategies that the Chinese students are familiar with and respect. Effective classroom management will definitely be a delicate challenge that teachers of ESL in China may face.
Finally, teachers in ESL in China will face general cultural barriers when teaching in China. Teachers may feel out of place or even suffer from culture shock. It will likely take a period of time for teachers to adjust to the new culture. Things to adjust to in Chinese culture include the new language, new values, new manners, and much more. The cultural differences can create a significant barrier to communication that can impede teaching and learning. Thus it is important for teachers of ESL in China to consider how to overcome this cultural barrier in order for effective ESL teaching and learning to take place within the classroom.
There are many challenges in general to teaching ESL. However, the teacher should pay careful attention to the challenges of the particular region that they are teaching in. Teaching ESL in China has the challenges of unique learning styles, specific classroom management techniques, and cultural barriers. Teachers should not only be aware of these issues but start preparing to address them!