teaching in China at Shanghai Gezhi high school

The Difference between Chinese and Foreign Teachers

Posted on Posted in Teaching

There are countless comparisons of the Chinese education system vs. the U.S. education system, but often overlooked is the students’ opinions—specifically, what Chinese students have to say about the difference between Chinese and foreign teachers teaching in China.


“Many local American students, they think most of Chinese students…are machines, they work very hard and they try their best. Yeah it’s true—many Chinese students work very hard, but they are not machines.” – Zac


Many TESOL-trained/ TEFL certified teachers have found a home teaching in China, and the demand for these foreign teachers remains high as many Chinese students set their sights on American universities for undergraduate degrees. These job opportunities are not limited to teaching English in China or ESL (English as a second language) teaching jobs, but include AP-level subject courses such as U.S. and World History, Physics, Calculus, etc.

We have interviewed several students enrolled in the Ameson American High School (+AP) Program, a network of schools in China that follow an American +AP curriculum, and have asked them what they believe the biggest difference between learning from a Chinese teacher compared to a foreign teacher is. This is what they had to say:


Jane“I think a foreign teacher can [teach] the truth about the subject and how to learn this subject by ourselves. But Chinese teachers always teach us the special skills to let us know how to pass the exam” – Jane


Ethan“A foreign teacher may be more creative and they know how to teach their students to learn the true skills about every subject. They give the students the rules to find the answer.”

– Ethan


Zac 2“Chinese teachers focus more on how students solve the problems and how they actually get scores, but foreign teachers mostly focus on the way of thinking when students get to know different kinds of knowledge and how they’re using this knowledge in their daily lives.” – Zac


Kelly“I think a foreign teacher is very kind and can tell me everything that a Chinese teacher doesn’t know, and maybe more [about] American culture.”

– Kelly


“I think the biggest difference is that Chinese teachers like to give us a lot of notes and we have to copy them, but with foreign teachers, they like to let us create new ideas.”

– Brenna


See the full interviews on our YouTube page.

cover photo via jon-browning.photoshelter.com

Want to become one of these teachers and help to introduce these and other Chinese students to a new way of learning? Start teaching in China today.
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