If you’ve been following our blog for a while, you’ll know how much we advocate for learning languages in their country of origin. After all, there’s no faster way to learn something than to be immersed in it.
To take your learning experience even further, you might also be considering gaining some work experience in China during a gap year or long break. Not only will this look great on your CV, but it’ll also broaden your understanding of the country, culture and language.
While keeping in mind you’ll need a different visa depending on what your main goal is (e.g. tourism, education, paid work etc), here are four ways to combine travel with work experience.
There are several different areas you can volunteer in, from caring for children to community work to World Heritage Site help. One particularly popular way, though, is helping animals – especially China’s iconic giant pandas.
Some companies offer volunteering programmes at panda sanctuaries like Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Duties include feeding and cleaning up after pandas, as well as replanting bamboo and office work. Some schemes even incorporate Chinese language lessons into the day.
Remember that it’s not all glamorous and about cuddling cute creatures, though. In many cases, physical contact has to be limited to help prevent the pandas from trusting humans too much. And there’ll be a lot of shovelling to do!
If you’d like to support disadvantaged children, Lingoinn has partnered with Dalian Aina Autism Service Centre, and can organise volunteering placements with them. Find out more on Lingoinn’s page about Dalian here.
Summer might be a time for holidays when it comes to Western academia, but in China it’s often seen as an opportunity to get ahead on studies before the start of the new school year. Summer camps hire English teachers exactly for this – or you can try freelancing and tutoring one-on-one.
You can also find casual work in the hospitality sector, for example at a bar or hotel. It’s a great way to meet new people. And while you’re likely to have more luck finding work at Western venues than local Chinese ones depending on your language proficiency, it can be a chance to practice your Mandarin skills with colleagues and customers alike.
If you need to travel to China for business, try organising a coinciding trip with Lingoinn. With many companies tightening their belts for training and travel, doing this kills two birds with one stone – allowing you to learn more of the language under expert guidance while having your travel plans sorted.
In some cases your work can directly boost your language-learning experience, too. For example, Hiyomi Jie – a Lingoinn student – balanced work with study while she undertook a homestay Mandarin learning course with us in Chengdu. Her teacher not only helped her develop general language skills, but also helped her prepare for her meeting with Chinese clients.
While usually unpaid, internships are a really powerful way of getting both practical work experience and networking opportunities in China. The office environment in China can be quite different to that in the West – so internships are a chance to adapt to a different style of working before plunging straight into things.
As well as volunteering in Dalian, Lingoinn currently organises internship opportunities too – check out our Services page to find out more.