The Cultural Differences between Western countries and China

Tips about the Chinese Culture 

Greetings ESL Teachers,It could be an amazing experience to teach English in China. You get a sense of achievement by offering you knowledge, you experience and your creation to help people far away in the east to develop their personality, enlarge their knowledge, and become more open minded. Also by offering your value, you also gain precious life experience, happy moments, and accumulate knowledge and experience for your future career. 

However, it is also not seldom, that ESL teacher in China sometimes get frustrated and confused, when they are dealing with Chinese students. We are here trying to help you know more about Chinese students and understand them better by comparing them to Western students. Ready? Let’s Dive in.


3 differences between Chinese students and Western students:


ShynessGenerally speaking, Chinese students are not that into interaction with someone at the first time. They wouldn’t express much there. But once they know you better, or see you as their people, they could be very close to you, closer than in the western cases. As a teacher in China, it is quite normal, that your students “fear” you to some extent. It is more usual to see in China than Western, that students fear and respect their teachers, this has something to do with the culture, so your students would be “shy” in front of you, we would suggest that you could try to be more amiable and funny, and try things to make them laugh. Then they could be more likely to open to you, and not that shy anymore. Also as a teacher, you are seen as a boss in front of your students, at most of the time, it could be very natural for you to take the first step: ask, suggest, lead, and plan something.

Working Hard

Chinese society used to have a national system of examination (Kequ System) for thousands of years, in which people from lower class could get a chance to go up, and then “contribute” to the country with dignity, once they get a good score on the special exams. Nowadays, another examination system (Gaokao System) functions with similar effect. These have an impact on Chinese mentality and values. “Study hard!”, “Get a good result in exam!” are highly evaluated in Chinese society. 

Compared to Western students, Chinese spend more time in their studies. As a ESL teacher, it would be very nice of you to have the urge to make your students feel more relaxed and enjoy life more, to achieve this, there are many ways, e.g. make your class more interesting, give your students a happy moment at learning, give some advice to them on how to study more effectively and smartly, how to enjoy the process of learning and studying. But it is not recommended to encourage your Chinese students to go against the examination, against the school, or even their parents, for a practical reason, but also in view of our own limitation of judgment to see things totally clear. To summarize the suggestions for this topic: Know more about it, be open minded, helpful and constructive, don’t create friction or conflict.


In Chinese schools, some highly controversial conducts are there, which could be defined in Western as Plagiarism. But before we go into the direction of judging, we stop here to turn to another direction: to understand it more, and do something about it.

In some cases, some Chinese students could do something which could be defined as plagiarism in Western, but they have no awareness of it. E.g. They write something without giving citation. In this case, we would recommend that you, as a teacher, don’t throw out something as judgment, but help your students form a now habit, which could help them perform better, same example by citation, you could say, if we cite, it could help us in the future trace back the valuable information which we have used, which could help us perform more effectively.

In some other cases, some Chinese students violate intentionally. In these cases, it is recommended to make an agreement with your students on the rules and consequences in advance, be sure that your students know the content, and let them express their consent in some way. A step-by-step warning and punishing system could be contained in this agreement and conducted accordingly.

So we’ve finished the suggestion part, wish you a great time in China. More tips and suggestions for working in China will follow soon, please stay tuned!

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