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…

  • Almost a quarter of a million k-12 students in the US are currently studying Mandarin
  • Chinese immersion programs have increased enrollment by 700% in Delaware since 2012
  • In Utah, 2.2% of all K-12 students are learning Mandarin
  • Chinese is the most popular language for dual-enrollment programs after Spanish, edging out French!

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.

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The Perfect Academic Background To Become A 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 Master's!

  • AP exam in Chinese if possible, but certainly a full four years of studying Chinese in high school at a minimum,
  • Major in Chinese at college (with a double major or a minor in education if possible)
  • Preliminary teacher certification exam in your state
  • Masters in Education

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:

  • In high school, it’s ideal for taking the AP Exam in Chinese (or perhaps take an intermediate level HSK exam if your school doesn't offer it). Although there’s nothing to stop you from studying Chinese in college even if you haven’t studied the language before, if you’ve at least studied Chinese in high school, you’ll be better prepared for university-level study and perhaps even spending a year studying abroad in China.
  • Once you’ve graduated from high school and hopefully gotten a bit of AP credit to speed you on your way, you need to choose your major in college. You could theoretically major in Chinese or East Asian studies as well as the language, but we’d strongly recommend getting at least a minor in education in too. If you focus on your language and education studies, that should also give you space academically to spend at least a semester abroad, which will help you get the cultural exposure (and fluency!) you need too.
  • A Master's in Education isn’t always necessary to become a teacher initially, especially for a private school and if you are really bringing expertise in the language. However, most public school systems in almost every state will ask their teachers to get a Masters in Education eventually - usually within their first 2-5 years of teaching. If you weren't able to do a double major or minor in education at undergrad, it’s probably a good idea to go straight into the master's to help you get the experience and teaching knowledge you need in order to prepare for your state’s teacher certification exam.
  • And for those who want to go on to become a full-fledged professor of Chinese at a university, you’ll need to continue your studies at the doctorate level.

Learn how you could start teaching Chinese language without diplomas.

Can You Become A Chinese Teacher Without A Degree?

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.

  • Take the teacher certification exam
  • Become a substitute teacher (short or long term)
  • Give private lessons
  • Find a job at a tutoring or language center.
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 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.

Find out the requirements to be mandarin teacher.

What Do You Need To Be A Chinese Private Tutor?

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!

  • Chinese language experts - these people are often either native speakers or second-generation Chinese growing up in America. Mandarin is their mother tongue, and they have a thorough understanding of Chinese culture at home and abroad. Their courses can offer a wide variety of linguistic and cultural information, which showcases their expertise.
  • Certified teachers - these are certified Chinese teachers who have studied the language (and teaching practices) and have a thorough knowledge of the language and learning styles that is perfectly adjusted for high school and college students. They know how to help students improve and tackle their trouble areas, whether it’s the 4 tones and their pronunciation, learning the Chinese characters, writing them, drafting sentences, or finding the right words.
  • Chinese students - there are many college students who need a job to earn a bit of money to help keep their student loans down. Even if they’re still studying themselves, they’re advanced enough to offer to tutor for high school students just beginning to learn Chinese. And if they intend to teach when they graduate, tutoring is also a good way for them to work on their teaching skills.
  • Enthusiasts - these people aren't teachers, students, or Chinese, but they’ve learned the language and are enthusiastic about all things China. They’ve often spent a significant amount of time traveling or living in China. The advantage of hiring an enthusiast as a tutor is that they can share their experiences living in China as an ex-pat with their students.
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, many professional adults choose to take up Mandarin or who want to refresh rusty language skills ahead of a business project, travel plans, or simple interest.

Find different studies to become a Chinese teacher.

What Qualities Are Important To Become A Chinese Teacher?

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 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:

  • Patient,
  • Sympathetic,
  • Positive
  • Empathetic
  • Passionate
  • Dedicated

This list isn’t exhaustive, but to be a good teacher, it’s crucial that you know how to listen to your students and be motivated to help them improve and 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:

  • Age
  • Level
  • Pre-existing knowledge and personality
  • Ability to memorize and remember things quickly

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 master's 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 as well as 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.

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Commencing Your Career As A Chinese teacher

The Mandarin language comprises a continuum of dialects, ranging from the north of China to the southwestern regions.

It ranks as the most spoken language in the world, with around a billion speakers. And as such, it remains relevant to the global society and the economy.

Chinese languages use a pictorial script that features traditional Chinese characters. As a result, learning and teaching Mandarin is quite unlike teaching a European language like French or German.

Therefore, if you're hoping to become a Mandarin teacher, you must have a solid understanding of the language.

However, knowing the language alone does not qualify one to be teaching Mandarin. Even if you're perfectly fluent in the language, you will still need to train as a teacher and develop specific skills.

There are several courses that prospective teachers can take online or in-person to earn a teaching certificate or degree. Many of these certifications cater exclusively to foreign-language instructors.

A Google Maps image of Hong Kong and Shenzhen
China is the world's second-largest economy and among the most visited places on the planet. Knowing how to speak Mandarin will only prove to be an asset in the near future for anyone looking to advance their career prospects (Source: Visual Hunt)

When offering Chinese lessons, the curriculum you develop depends on your students and their learning requirements. The lesson plans you devise also depend on the size of your class.

Hence, if you're giving one-on-one tuitions, your lessons will significantly differ from what you would teach a mixed group of students.

Keep reading as we discuss the essential aspects of teaching mandarin:

Key Considerations When Beginning Your Chinese Mandarin Teaching Career

The first step is to consider the type of students you want to teach before starting your Chinese Mandarin teaching career.

Alongside that, other important considerations include:

  • While developing a curriculum as a private Mandarin tutor, you need to design each lesson plan step-by-step to cater to your course schedule
  • You must also account for testing procedures that allow you to assess your students' progress and how well they cope with the subject matter. This can include regular testing coupled with homework, assignments, and projects for a more rounded assessment
  • No matter how qualified you are to teach Mandarin, nothing is a substitute for real-world teaching experience. Therefore, it's a good idea to build up experience when you're studying for your Mandarin degree
  • Consider initially serving as a teacher's assistant if you want a feel for tutorship without actually taking on the full responsibility of a teaching job. Immersing yourself in a Chinese learning environment will help you pick up practical tips and techniques that you wouldn't get through a degree

Organizing Your Mandarin Course

As a Mandarin teacher, you want your lessons to be streamlined and easy to consume.

However, since Mandarin and English are poles apart, it can be hard to remember the tonal, phonetic, grammatical, and orthographic differences.

But you can still make Mandarin teaching easier by making your lessons more organized. Try to:

  • Always prepare your lessons in advance to leave no room for confusion
  • Ensure complete clarity with students during your lessons
  • Encourage your students to practice their Mandarin outside their lessons
  • Schedule regular assessments

Make sure to utilize several different educational materials in your lessons, including textbooks, learning apps, online tools, and learning aids, especially if you're teaching children Mandarin.

And most importantly, remember to make your lessons engaging for your students. For this, keep in mind that students prefer personalized support when opting for private tuitions.

When a student hires you as a personal Mandarin teacher, they will expect you to give them customized tutoring and help them learn the language according to their needs.

Hence, as a private tutor, you can adopt specific tips and techniques to add a personal touch to your lessons:

  • Include snippets of Chinese history into your lectures
  • Incorporate Chinese culture, such as literature, cuisine, and music, into your teaching plan
  • Introduce your students to Chinese pop culture
  • Try to take a trip to Chinatown

Each student has different learning needs and expectations. And as a tutor, it is your job to accentuate their strengths and tweak the lessons to their advantage.

Chinese flag on a flag pole
Mandarin ranks as the most spoken language in the world, with almost a billion speakers. Due to the high number of students looking to learn this language, teaching Mandarin is almost always a fruitful decision (Source: Visual Hunt)

What Makes an Effective Mandarin Tutor?

To excel as a Mandarin tutor, you should be fluent in all aspects of the language, including writing, speaking, and reading. Speaking Mandarin is not the only criteria for a good teacher.

More importantly, you should be approachable, organized, and have impeccable English skills (if your students are fluent in English).

As a language tutor, you need to be flexible with how you teach and tweak your lessons according to your student's learning needs.

Draft an initial plan after consulting with the students or the parents and identifying their main areas of concern.

According to this plan, you can use study aids, online resources, and apps to help students prepare. Also, make sure to track their progress and tailor your learning plan accordingly.

Keep in mind that most Mandarin teaching jobs require the candidates to have a bachelor's degree in Mandarin and some amount of experience teaching the language. Teachers must have native fluency and an understandable Mandarin accent.

If the job calls for tutoring children, you must have some qualification or experience teaching younger students and, in some cases, a teaching certificate.

However, teaching jobs for college or university might require additional qualifications.

Moreover, if you're looking to give private tuitions, you must keep your schedule flexible and be available during the afternoon, evenings, and weekends.

In addition, when giving lessons online, it is crucial to have a dependable internet connection and a tutoring space free of disturbances.

Finding Prospective Students

After acquiring the expertise needed to become a Mandarin tutor, your next priority should be to search for prospective students.

There are many avenues to look for students or, in this case, customers. These include putting out ads in local magazines and newspapers.

You can also target professional workers looking to learn Chinese, for which you will need to start with large companies with offices in China.

In the years to come, the relevance of Mandarin is only bound to grow, and knowing how to speak Mandarin can prove to be a real asset.

Hence, whether you're a bilingual Chinese-American or a native Mandarin speaker, you can make good use of your Mandarin skills as a teacher.

Furthermore, you don't have to go advertising on local newspapers and forums anymore to find students.

Virtually everyone uses the internet these days, making it a great tool to connect with like-minded individuals and gain visibility.

As a result, more and more users are resorting to online tutoring platforms to cut out the red tape of traditional tutoring agencies.

Having said that, here are some additional suggestions:

Social Media

Social media is an excellent tool to network with leads for your tutoring business. Join different online forums and social media groups that cater to the Mandarin language.

Then, proceed to publicize your services to the group, and with time, people will start contacting you and referring others to you.

Teachers must also decide which audience they should broadcast their services to. Are you looking to target adults in their mid-careers, university students, or children?

If you want to teach children, consider joining parent groups. In contrast, if you're targeting professionals, join career-related forums.

Schools

It would help if you also considered teaching Mandarin in schools or language centers. Compared to private tuitions, schools offer a few advantages:

  • Teachers can find better employment opportunities with schools since almost every language school offers Mandarin classes
  • Teachers do not have to cater to every student's individual needs and set customized learning plans
  • There is a consistent salary
  • You don't have to fish for clients

With language schools, you also get the opportunity to immerse yourself in a Chinese learning environment and deepen your knowledge of the language and culture.

Also, students can learn through peer interactions in a mixed classroom setting, which helps take some of the responsibility off your shoulders.

Keep in mind that students from your language school might contact you for personalized lessons after class, allowing you to advance your career as a private tutor on the side.

Teach Mandarin Through the Most Well-Connected Platform

With online learning options, you have the liberty to choose what style of tutoring suits you and your students best. Remote learning gives you much more freedom to learn and teach on your time.

In today's globalized world, most online tutors prefer to hold their sessions via webcam, freeing commute time and allowing more sessions per week, and making for a less stressful learning experience.

Superprof features a vast network of teachers, allowing students to match tutors based on their area and course requirements.

The platform gives teachers and students the option to choose online lessons or in-person lessons, depending on their schedule and learning requirements.

Make a profile on Superprof, connect with qualified Chinese tutors near you, and learn how to speak Mandarin like a prof!

A street in China Town, Singapore
Thanks to the vast Chinese diaspora and China's burgeoning economy, finding Mandarin-speaking individuals is not as challenging, no matter the country. Many natives are now seeking to learn Mandarin to avail themselves economic benefits (Source: Visual Hunt)
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