Teacher Kim Ooi writing for Hello Teacher!

Updated November 16, 2018
Kim Ooi

Teaching university students in China

If you plan on teaching English in China for more than a year, you will need to decide whether to renew your contract and stay at the same school or move to a new school.

In this article, I highlight some important factors that you should consider when making this decision.

Are you happy at your present school and is your school happy with your performance?

This is an obvious consideration and doesn’t need much explanation.

If your school isn’t happy with your performance, they will not offer to renew your contract. Conversely, if you’re unhappy at your present school, you may not want to renew your contract, even if your school wants to keep you.

Personal circumstances

If you are single, you’ll have the freedom to choose where you work. The only constraint will be whether you can secure a job offer in the city where you wish to work.

On the other hand, if you’re married or have children, moving may not be an easy or practical option.

The advantages of renewing your contract and staying with the same school long term

If you have no ties and are able to choose whether to stay or go, here are several reasons why you should renew your contract:

  • Convenience: Moving all your belongings from one city to another, especially in a country as large as China, is no easy task. If you renew your contract, you’ll not have to worry about this.
  • Familiarity: You would continue to live and work in a familiar environment. You’d be familiar with the city you’re in and how your school operates. Plus, you can continue to hang out with your old friends.
  • Job security and stability: If you’re doing a good job, chances are your school will want to retain you for a long time. This gives you the security of a stable job. Men may even find it easier to find a wife because they can offer a woman stability and financial security.
  • Promotion prospects: Those teachers who have been at a school long term may be promoted to more senior positions.

Male university student in China

An advantage of renewing your teaching contract in China is the familiarity factor.

The disadvantages of renewing your contract

  • Lack of variety and breadth of experience: You’ll only know what it is like to teach at your school. This year was the first time that I had renewed my contract. By moving schools, I got to experience teaching students at every level from primary school to university. You can’t get this experience if you don’t move.
  • You may not meet as many people: I now have hundreds of friends, former students and colleagues in a number of different cities across China. I would not have met them if I hadn’t moved.
  • You won’t get the chance to live in different cities. Of course, you can always travel during the holidays, but you won’t get to experience the full extent of life in another city unless you actually live there. Each city in China has its own distinct culture which is fascinating to learn about.  

The advantages of moving to a new school every year

  • You get to experience what life is like in another city. You get to try different foods and maybe even learn a number of regional dialects.
  • You get a wider teaching experience. You get to teach different age groups, each requiring different teaching methods.
  • You get to meet more new people.
  • If you like writing, you could become a blogger. The different experiences that you have give you a lot of writing material. You may even be able to make money from blogging!

Group of TEFL teachers in China

If you move to a new school, you get to meet more new people.

The disadvantages of moving to a new school every year

  • It’s inconvenient. As mentioned earlier, trying to move all your belongings to a new city is difficult.
  • You’ll have to adapt to life in a new city, try not to get lost and try to remember where everything is.
  • You’ll have to adapt to the way your new school operates. The way you did things before may not be the way that you’d be expected to do things at your new school. For example, some schools like to give teachers more freedom than others. While some teachers like that, others prefer more direction.
  • You’ll have less stability. You won’t know where you’re going to be based from one year to the next. That is a drawback if you want to get married or have children.
  • You’ll be a jack of all trades but a master of none. In other words, you’ll know a little bit about various types of schools but you’ll not have an in-depth understanding of any of them.
  • For the move to be worthwhile financially, you’d need to find a school that offers you more than what you would’ve got after your contract renewal bonus at your present school.

Only you can decide what’s right for you

As you can see, the decision whether to stay or go is not an easy one. Apart from the factors outlined above, your decision will depend on many personal circumstances and aspirations.

Only you can decide which option is better for you. Hopefully the information in this article will help you make a more informed decision.


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