Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated November 17, 2018
Mike Cairnduff

How to teach English in China

If you want to teach English in China but don’t know where to start, this blog is for you.

As simply as I can, I’ll explain how to teach English in China in six easy steps.

By the end, you’ll know exactly what’s required to make your teach abroad dream a reality.

So let’s get into it!

Step 1 – Check your eligibility

China is a land of contradictions. Getting a teaching job in China is no exception.

For example, a rule which applies in one province may not apply to another province.

Generally speaking, however, there are certain requirements to teach in China. They are:

  • You’re a native English speaker from USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia or New Zealand
  • You’re under age 55
  • You’ve got a bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate
  • You’ve got some work experience
  • You’ve got a clean bill of health and don’t have any criminal convictions.

These requirements may slightly differ between schools and recruiters. For example, some schools accept native English speakers from South Africa.

To find out if you can teach in China with Hello Teacher!, simply use the eligibility checker. It only takes about 10 seconds!

How to teach English in China? First check your eligibility

How do you teach English in China? First, check your eligibility.

If you’re graduating from university soon, you can still apply to teach in China. Just make sure you have your degree certificate well beforehand as it’s part of the visa procedure for teaching in China.

Don’t have a degree? You can technically teach in China without a degree by doing an internship.

However, I won’t be covering internships in this blog as they’re different to proper teaching positions.

Step 2 – Complete a TEFL course

You can skip this step if you’ve got an education or teaching degree.

For everyone else, you’re going to have to complete a TEFL course to teach in China.

Choose a course that’s at least 120 hours in length. This can be done online, face to face, or both (called a combined course).

A popular option is a combined course where you do approximately 100 hours online and 20 hours face to face. It’s the best of both worlds!

The face-to-face component could be done on Skype or even in person in your city. It all depends on the type of course you choose.

How to teach English in China? Complete a TEFL course

Getting real teaching practice in your TEFL course is a good idea.

Hello Teacher! has a TEFL store where you can compare top TEFL courses from leading providers all in one place.

The courses are competitively priced and, provided you choose one that’s at least 120 hours, are ideal for China.

An alternative to doing a TEFL course is a CELTA course. It’s more rigorous but more expensive.

You will have other expenses if you want to teach in China, so my advice is to opt for the cheaper option – TEFL.

Step 3 – Decide how you want to find a teaching job

If you’ve got plenty of time, know exactly what you want, and can navigate your way through the complex Chinese education and employment market, then you could decide to go it alone.

By going it alone, I mean contacting schools in China directly to find work.

The problem with this is knowing which schools are reputable, which schools have hired foreign teachers before, which schools arrange the proper visa for you – the list goes on.

Even finding the right person to speak to (i.e. the foreign affairs hiring manager) can be excruciatingly tough.

Working with a recruiter is a great way to find a teaching job in China

Do you have the time and know-how to contact individual schools in China?

I’d probably only recommend this option if you’ve taught in China before and you know exactly what you’re doing.

Given you’re reading a ‘how to teach English in China’ blog, I’d say you probably don’t fall into this category!

The other way you can find a teaching job in China is by working with a reputable recruiter (like Hello Teacher!).

A recruiter can help you find the ideal role based on your needs. You can choose from a range of roles in different kinds of schools all across China.

So how do you choose the perfect recruiter?

Go for one that’s objective, trustworthy, and can help you with the visa arrangements and any questions you have along the way.

And be wary of recruiters who only recruit for their brand or chain of schools. Your choices will be very limited!

Step 4 – Narrow down your preferences

To say “I want to teach in China” is a broad statement (but a great start!).

You need to narrow down your preferences. This will help both you and your recruiter to find the most appropriate teaching job in China.

The three most important questions to consider at the start of your job search are:

  • What type of school in China do you want to work in?
  • What part of China do you want to work in?         
  • What salary and working conditions will you accept?

How to teach in China - narrow down your preferences

An international school in Jiangsu province, eastern China.

It’s ok if you don’t have any particular preferences straight away. Your recruiter can help you decide.

In this blog I won’t go into detail about each of these questions. That’s because I’ve written a dedicated blog about narrowing down your preferences for teaching in China here.

Step 5 – Make a good impression

It’s easy to make a good impression with your recruiter and school.

For starters, make sure your resume or CV is up to date and error-free.

Think about it – you’re applying for a teaching job in China where grammar and spelling are important. If your resume is littered with mistakes, what kind of impression do you think this makes?

Additionally, make sure your resume shows all of your work experience. It’s ok if there are gaps in your employment, but explain why.

Making a good impression at your interview is even more important than perfecting your resume.

How to teach English in China - make a good impression

If you're serious about teaching in China, make a good impression in your resume and interview.

Dress well, speak clearly, and articulate why you would be a great teacher in China.

Make sure you’re ready for your interview on time. If you’re not on time, or have to reschedule more than once, what do you think this says about the way you work?

Remember, first impressions are often lasting impressions.

Step 6 – Sign a contract and start preparing

When looking for a teaching job in China, it’s not only the salary that you need to consider.

Things like the type of school you’ll be working at, whether housing is included and how many hours you’ll be working, are equally important.

Once you’re happy with a particular teaching role, sign the contract you’ve been given.

Upon signing the contract, the Z visa process for teaching in China can begin. This is a critical part of your preparation.

Ideally, you should start the visa process three months before you start teaching, provided you have all your personal documents (such as your degree) ready to go.

Most teaching jobs in China offer a reimbursement of your airfare, up to a limit. So when buying your tickets you don’t have to scrimp on the cheapest airline.

How do you teach English in China? Get a Z visa

How do you teach in China the right way? Make sure you're working on a Z visa.

In case you didn’t know, most major Western websites and apps are blocked in China. This includes Google, Gmail, YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

To get around this, make sure you get a virtual private network (VPN) app on your phone and laptop.

It’s super important to do this before you arrive in China because you may not be able to download a VPN once you’re there.

Finding the best VPN for China isn’t hard as there are a number of providers that are reputable and used by teachers in China.

Finally, make sure you bring enough money. You may need to wait a month until you are paid depending on the school’s pay cycle.

Housing is included in your salary package when you teach in a public school in China. However, if you teach in a private language institute you will need rent money upfront.

Your teach abroad dream is now a reality

So now you know how to teach English in China!

As you can see, it’s not hard. Provided you’re eligible to teach in China, it just takes a little dedication and time to get things in order.

The more prepared you are, the sooner you can get excited about this awesome adventure overseas!

What do you think of this step-by-step guide on how to teach English in China? Please comment below.

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