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Living and Teaching in China

Mahjongg Players in Guangzhou

Welcome to Middle Kingdom Life, home of the highly-acclaimed Foreign Teachers' Guide to Living and Working in China.

This Guide is a free, comprehensive online eBook written by Gregory Mavrides, PhD, an American professor of psychology, and Kenneth Hayes, M.Ed, a professional educator and headmaster of a very successful private English language school in China.

The Foreign Teachers Guide was created for prospective and current foreign teachers with the goal of protecting the interests and enhancing the social welfare of Westerners in China. It contains approximately 400 pages of extensively researched and well-documented information covering as many as 74 different topics, as well as numerous assessments and surveys.

Why Middle Kingdom Life?

Open Directory Project at

Middle Kingdom Life has the notable distinction of being the only website of its kind to be listed by the most authoritative directory on the Internet, The Open Directory Project, as a reference for teaching in China, along with only three other authoritative sources: the State Administration for Foreign Affairs (SAFEA), Princeton University, and the Chinese English Foreign Language Journal. The Foreign Teachers Guide to Living and Working in China is the only source of information about living and working in China that is written by named, credentialed, and duly qualified career educators. This highly informative eBook is the only resource of its kind that is based on ongoing empirical research and academic references (with over 11 pages of external citations). Consequently, this Guide is the most authoritative and trustworthy source of information about living and teaching in China that you will find anywhere.

If you are thinking about living and teaching English in China, then you owe it to yourself to read this Guide.

About The Foreign Teachers Guide

The Guide’s content is organized across two main sections: Teaching in China, comprising 39 chapters, and Living in China, consisting of 35 chapters.

A good way to get started is to simply click on the link to the section index you are most interested in (in the preceding paragraph) or you can just as easily browse the main menu to your left (when you roll your cursor over the menu headings, a corresponding cascading sub-menu will appear). For a visual layout of the entire site, including all of our files available for download, you can take a look at the Guide’s site map and topic index.

For regular visitors, a quick and easy way to learn about our newest additions and updates is to check out our Guide's Revision History. You can also sign up in the box on the left to be notified of any changes to the Guide by either e-mail or newsfeed.

While the chapters about the various aspects of living in China are oriented to prospective and current foreign teachers, they can be read and enjoyed by anyone who is thinking about moving to China for any reason.

If this is your first visit to Middle Kingdom Life and you are unfamiliar with China and China's EFL industry, we invite you to take our General Knowledge of China and EFL Industry Quiz. This entertaining and educational 25-item quiz will give you a general idea about the kind of information you will be learning about in our Guide.

Prospective foreign teachers who are wondering how competitive they will be in China's English teaching job market, as well as how easy or difficult their psychosocial adjustment to China will be, should take our China English Teacher Self-Assessment test. If you are pressed for time and just want a brief overview and discussion of the most salient issues you need to be aware of, then the Guide's Comprehensive Summary Checklist is also an excellent place to start.

Also, for those of you who are just beginning your exploration into the possibility of teaching English in China, it is strongly recommended that you read our warning and advice about How to Evaluate the Credibility of China EFL Websites.

If you are completely unfamiliar with China's educational system and Chinese students, it is highly recommended you first read our overview titled China's Education System, Chinese Students, and the Foreign English Teacher. For a detailed description of the occupational, sociodemographic, and personal aspects of teaching English in China, see the chapter titled Is Teaching English in China for Me? For returning visitors, you can easily identify the newest chapters, sections, and updates by simply clicking on the hyperlink located in the sidebar to your right (Guide Revision) or navigating to Notices --> Revision History in the menu bar.

After you've had a chance to read the guide, we ask that you take just a couple of minutes to complete our reader survey so that we can be more responsive to your needs in the future. In addition, if you are or were a foreign teacher in China, we invite you to take our China Foreign Teacher Satisfaction Survey.

While each of the 74 chapters is written to be read as an independent unit, many of the topics are obviously interrelated and, thus, hyperlinks to relevant chapters and their section headings can be found on most pages. These links are usually embedded within a sentence using blue-colored anchor text and as recommended readings at the end of some chapters.

Hyperlinks to pages within the Guide open in the same window, while links to articles in the blog, as well as to other directory locations (reader forum, resource directory), will open in a new window (or tab, depending on your browser settings). Within the Guide, you can easily return to the previous page you were referred from by pressing the Alt and Back (Left) Arrow keys simultaneously.

You can always determine your precise place in the Guide by examining the highlighted blue text on the menu bar to your left. As you roll your mouse cursor over the highlighted text, the submenu will open and your precise location will be revealed in bold, capitalized blue text.

Aside from selecting the desired chapter in the menu bar, you can navigate to the previous or next chapter by simply clicking on the corresponding arrow at the bottom-left or -right of each page, respectively.

Finally, if you are having difficulty finding what you are looking for, we strongly encourage you to use our extremely robust search engine located at the bottom of the menu bar. You can constrain your search to the precise ordering of your search terms by using quotation marks, e.g., "housing problems" (search engine will then only return page results that contain the precise term). If you do not use quotation marks, the search engine will return page results that contain all the words in your search but that were found in any order on the page.

  • Recipient of the 2010 Standard of Excellence Award: Non-Profit Category, Web Marketing Association.

    Recipient of 2010 WebAward NonProfit Standard of Excellence"This was a very interesting site that I had trouble leaving simply out of curiosity regarding the content. I found the site easy to get around in, the wealth of information astounding, the fact that the site has built a community among users that allows them to interact and share information helpful, and overall would consider this a very useful site that is well-designed, not overdone, and highly appropriate to the potential user. I had no technical issues, was able to find things easily, and overall satisfied with my experience. This site is worthy of an award": Judge's comment, September 15, 2010.
  • Listed in the Open Directory Project, the most authoritative and respected human-edited directory on the Internet, as only one of four recommended sources of information on teaching English in China, as well as a resource for Teaching English Abroad.
  • Received's highest rating for Internet guides based on "overall look and feel of the website, total/unique content, and ease of navigation" under Education and Research: Teaching.
  • "Excellent overview recommended to me by one who said it was of great use to them. I will be linking to it from our very popular article and resource site on teaching English overseas..." Gregory Hubbs of
  • "I just wanted to let you know that your work is helpful, detailed, concise, honest, witty, and simply kind of amazing. The fact that you offer it as a free internet resource is astounding to me. I just wish I had found it sooner!... As an educated young American looking to jump-start a teaching career by adventuring in exotic China, I can tell you that your work is greatly appreciated, both for its quality and joy of reading. I can't stop reading! You've done a great and invaluable service to me... and I'm sure many others." Patrick Barco, January 22, 2010.
  • "This is the best and most comprehensive site I’ve seen so far on teaching English in China. ... (it) is a gold mine of information for anybody who wants to be an English teacher in China." Matt from An English Teacher in China.
  • "This website is awesome. I loved the objective, researched, academic approach to a potentially delicate subject (re: Chinese women and foreign men). I lived in China for 5 years, but I learned so much reading this website." James MacLachlan, May 5, 2009.
  • "This is quite simply the best thing I have found online to guide people in my situation. I am a 28 yr old, thinking very seriously about teaching for a year in Shenzhen, and have found this entire guide helpful. I read it start to finish, from the initial reactions, through psychology of the women, to buying a house. Great info, and all in 1 place. This is an incredible resource to glean practical information that answers exactly the sort of questions that I want to ask. Thanks again." (Comment submitted in the Guide Reader's Survey, March 14, 2009.)

Browser Compatibility

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional

Every page in the Guide is W3C XHTML 1.0 compliant and has been optimized for use with Firefox, version 3.x, and has also been successfully tested for use with the latest versions of Chrome (Google), Safari 4 (Apple) and Opera. Earlier versions of these browsers or completely different browsers that are not W3C-standards compliant may produce unpredictable results in the Guide's layout.

Get FirefoxIf you must use Internet Explorer, we suggest the latest version available, one that can properly render CSS3 style sheets and produces results similar to those of other browsers. Earlier versions of I.E., particularly 7.x and 8.x, render some of our style sheets in a very idiosyncratic manner. For optimal enjoyment of our site, we suggest you use any browser other than Internet Explorer. We recommend Mozilla's Firefox and you can click on the button to download and install the latest version.


You must have JavaScript enabled in your browser in order for the cascading menu bar, various tab panels, and animated text boxes and slides throughout the guide to work properly. Although the Guide can be viewed with JavaScript disabled, it will not be as esthetically pleasing or convenient to use.

At least one plugin for Firefox, AdBlock Plus, has been positively identified as interfering with the loading of our style sheets and several other ad-blocking and antiviral programs may interfere with the execution of JavaScript on this website as well.

Screen Resolution

The Guide's layout is designed using fixed column widths and both the cascading menus and main content will display properly at a minimum screen resolution of 1024 x 768 on screens as small as 14" to 15" on laptop monitors. However, we recommend viewing the Guide at the highest screen resolution possible—up to and including 1680 x 1050 for the most enjoyable experience.


About Us

Middle Kingdom Life is the premier award-winning educational website for foreign teachers and Western expats in China. It was founded by an American professor in psychology and sociology for the purpose of disseminating valid and reliable information about living and teaching in China. The site's mission is to protect and enhance the interests and social welfare of foreign teachers and Western expats in China.

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