TEFL Panda Blog

All about Living & Teaching in China

September 25, 2013

Going on TV in China

TEFL Panda co-founder Anthony talks about his experience on China’s most popular dating show 

I think it started as a joke, The TV show fei cheng wu rao (非诚勿扰)which is basically China’s version of ‘Take me out’ as it’s known in Britain had just been on and Mr Chen (Co-Founder of TEFL Panda) looked at me intently, he smiled and said in his best Chinglish; ni yao bu yao try yi try? Which basically meant do you want to have a try. At this point I should have laughed and said no. I did laugh, but I didn’t say no.

teach in china and go on tv 2

3 weeks later and I am in Shanghai having an interview with one of the TV people. He seems happy with my Chinese and somehow agreed that my life story was interesting enough to throw me in front of 24 girls and a good percentage of China’s TV viewing population.

‘Any Questions?’ he asked.

‘Yes, what exactly are the viewing numbers of this show?’

He seemed expressionless,’erm, over 100 Million’,  he showed me the door.

I was flown to Beijing for the event. All the male guests were put up in a Chinese business hotel, now these can vary greatly and although many of them these days are clean and comfortable this one was neither of the two. After a somewhat sleepless night the noise of crowds  began to grow and I knew the time was drawing near.

They gave us a goods morning briefing,’ men will take the stage and do their bit one at a time, being bought down in an elevator’ (to a rather outdated pop song). We were given strict instructions on where to walk and how to use a little machine to select our favourite girl of the 24. They also went over the basic rules again; ‘if the girls don’t like you they will turn their lights off, if enough lights are left on and you chose a girl at the end you win a holiday with her to the Maldives or Greece.’

The other contenders seemed extremely nervous which for some reason made me feel much better about the whole thing. If this all goes wrong I can leave China forever and just pretend nothing happened I thought.

We were kind of back stage, peering through the steel framework that made up the studio walls. I felt like a helpless onlooker, I had gotten to know the other guys quite well by this point but they were like lambs to the slaughter, one by one being rejected by the female participants. The person to be sent down the elevator after me turned and whispered at me, his eyes glistening in the shadows. Which girl do you like most?

I had no idea, their make-up was thick and more resembled war paint then something a girl would use to make herself appealing.

‘I think no.11 is wonderful’ he said, her name is Xing Xing.. He smiled dreamily. I had seen no.11 before, she was pretty, with sharp almost post-surgery features. I had also seen her turn down every guy, no matter how handsome, funny or rich.

“I don’t know if that’s wise to try and get that one I said, I think she’s a plant and when she leaves with a guy it will be a big deal and all pre-arranged, you know, to get the viewing numbers up.”

He nodded as if he was listening but I could see his mind was in a whirl of anticipation.

It was my turn, I was taken up a very rickety staircase by an assistant and put in the elevator. The assistant gave me a microphone, “ok this on, and good luck”

When you step out of the elevator, lights shining, music pumping and 24 girls all staring at you trying to work out if you are suitable soul mate it is a quite unique feeling.

teach in china and go on tv 3

If you want to know how it went then You can see how it unfolded here.

People often ask me if the show is ‘real’ or not? It’s certainly 80% real. I changed some things in my life story they show in the VCRs, the sound effects you hear (like the cymbal or ‘boing’) after you have said a joke which isn’t funny happens right when you said it (which I did not expect!) The girls are also mostly ‘real’ with the exception of one or two plants.






September 16, 2013

5 Crazy Foods You Must Try in China

Its not all just rice and noodles!

Food in China

From those warm wanton noodle soups to the tasty dumplings – Chinese foods can be found just anywhere around the world. However, these are only a tiny part of what “real” Chinese cuisine is. Pay a visit to China and find out about the strangest and craziest foods that you should never try to miss. If you are a TEFL teacher chances are you will have a chance to try some of these odd, but delicious delicacies!

Duck Blood Soup

With its name, it will certainly be hard for you to think that this dish will give you a nice food experience. Contrary to what you may be thinking, duck blood soup is actually appetising. It is very clean, too, and it has a medicinal value especially for the Chinese.

Duck Heads

Usually found in the food market in China, the first question that may come into your mind may be, “How much meat will I get from it?” Wonderfully-stewed with Chinese herbs and other special ingredients, duck heads may not be all about the “meat”, but their taste is definitely worth-remembering.

Scorpions On A Stick

Another gem in the Chinese food market is the scorpion on a stick. They may not seem as inviting as other common Chinese foods, but they can make you boost the temperature during cold Chinese winters. It may just be a bit troubling to think of how to start eating them.

Seahorses & Starfishes On A Stick

The Chinese just love putting sea creatures on a stick. You may also find seahorses and starfishes on a stick when you go through the stalls of the Chinese food market. They may appear rock-hard, but they can serve as great afternoon snacks.

Fried Snake

The Chinese people are definitely fearless. Going into the deepest forests of certain provinces are just one of their hobbies and once they’re done, expect to see them bring home and sell the meat of freshly-caught snakes fried with salt and pepper.

So now that you are eager to try these foods, have a look at our TEFL Jobs section and see where you can get started!

September 16, 2013

Two Chinese characters you simply have to learn!

Chinese Toilet Characters


Picture the scene, you’re out in China on an adventure. Suddenly nature calls and you need the toilet… desperately. You find the toilet and are faced with 2 characters. 男 and 女. So what do you do? Which way do you go? If you don’t know which one is man and which one is woman do you just take a chance?

Learning these 2 characters may indeed save you some trouble and its very easy to know which one is which. In fact knowing them may help you to find the toilet in the first place!

So if you have not studied Chinese characters before whats the best way to tell the difference between man (男) and woman (女). For me the secret is in the man character. The character 男 is made up of 2 components 田 (tian) which looks like a window or fields from a birds eye view and does mean exactly that; field.

Then below 田 you have 力 (li) which means power! So simply put, due to males generally being naturally physically larger, they usually have more power when working the filed. You can see the agricultural origins of this character just from the structure!

So remember field 田 plus power 力 = 男 man. And hopefully you wont do what TEFL Teacher Joseph did after this photo was taken…turn right!


September 11, 2013

All You Need to Know About Pandas

Who can resist watching pandas play around? Pandas are undeniably cute and charming. However, estimations say that there are only about 2,000 of them remaining in the world today with many living in China. If they do not get the care that they need to survive, the next generations would no longer be able to see them alive. If you are interested about their existence, here are some points that can serve as your guide.

What do Pandas Eat?

As we all know, the most common food that pandas eat are bamboo shoots. On the other hand, pandas are born to be carnivorous. With that, what usually happens is that they take greater amounts of bamboo shoots to match the nutrients that they need to survive. At times, they also eat rodents, flowering plants, berries and more when they are out in the wild and are freely wandering.

what do pandas eat

Panda Mating & Reproduction

One reason why pandas are already near their period of complete extinction could be the fact that they only give birth to one or two cubs and yet, hunters still get all the freedom they need to capture them. Newborns have an average weight of 0.113 kilograms. Pandas usually mate from May to October and from a successful mating activity, it would take about 3 to 5 months before the panda gives birth to a cub. A panda living in the wild has a lifespan of around 15-20 years, while those ones in the captivity are estimated to have a lifespan of up to 30 years.  Many people think that Pandas living in captivity is cruel, and for many Zoos it is, however when the Panda is given enough space and all the food they need, its one of the main things that is keeping the panda population alive!

Habitat: Where do Pandas Live?

Most pandas are known to commonly live in mountainous areas, especially in China which has the biggest population of pandas in the world. There is still no accurate information about pandas which live in other countries, but pandas commonly prefer mountain ranges and highly-forested areas where they can have an abundant supply of bamboo shoots.

You can find out more about our own resident Panda here!

September 10, 2013

5 Reasons Getting a TEFL Is the Best Decision You Ever Made

Learning different languages is never easy. Sometimes, you will even have to go and visit the actual countries just to get a clearer understanding of their language. On the other hand, the most popular language for people to learn is English… So why not teach it?  Teaching the universal language is a huge opportunity and there are TEFL courses offered everywhere that can help you become qualified to teach English. Getting a TEFL can be the best decision you will ever make and here are the reasons why.

1. Formal training, more accurate lessons

Learning plainly from books and dictionaries can be cheaper, but this can only make things harder for you. If you have a professional teaching you, you will get the chance to acquire more accurate lessons and better results.  This will help you find more TEFL jobs, and you will be getting great feedback from schools and students!

2. Better understanding of everything

Getting a TEFL qualification can help you teach the world to understand the Hollywood movies and TV shows that you love and it would also make it possible from them to understand the books you read. Teaching English in China can be a truly rewarding experience opening up a world of possibility for your students.

3. The confidence to go around the world

English is the secondary language of almost all countries. Think about how many different places you can go and Teach! When you know how to teach English, the world is your oyster as they say, and it just so happens that anywhere that wants English teachers also wants TEFL Teachers!

4. More job opportunities

Teaching English with a TEFL will open more job opportunities for you. This is a basic requirement, especially with jobs teaching English abroad. If you are equipped with good English teaching skills, there would be greater probabilities for you to get hired by companies.

5. Simply fulfilling

Just like when you first learned how to ride a bike, or when you managed to get an A+ on your test, teaching English can give you a sense of fulfilment. It may appear really hard for you, at first, but all your efforts will definitely pay off in the future. You can be an enabler for so many people in the world, so why not fill in our Teacher Application now, and start your new career!