Eligibility to teach in China

You need a bachelor’s degree and a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate.
There are numerous online and face-to-face TEFL courses available. We can help you choose the right TEFL course. Once you successfully complete the course, you'll receive a TEFL certificate.
Some private centers we work with offer a free or discounted TEFL course as part of your orientation in China. Ask us for more details when you apply with us.
That’s fine. You can have a degree in any field to apply.
Due to China visa rules you must have a passport from one of the following countries: Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, UK or Ireland.
You must have a bachelor’s degree to apply for a role in China with us. Avoid any recruiter who says they can find you a job without this requirement, unless it’s a reputable internship program.
No, your university qualifications in education should be enough.
The minimum TEFL course for China is 120 hours. It can be done entirely online or a combination of online and in person.
Nothing. TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language while TESOL stands for Teaching English as a Second or Other Language. Americans generally say TEFL while Brits tend to say TESOL.
CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults and is an internationally recognized qualification. It takes about a month to complete full-time, making it more comprehensive than a TEFL or TESOL course. While it's a great certificate to have under your belt, you don't need it for China. TEFL or TESOL are both sufficient (and cost a lot less, too!).

 

What it's like in China

The conditions vary between schools, provinces and cities.

 

For example, schools on the richer east coast typically have better conditions and pay higher salaries than those in central and west China. However, the cost of living in the east is higher.

You need to decide what kind of experience you’re after. If you prefer having mod-cons and a more contemporary way of life, stick to the bigger cities and the east coast.

If you’re looking for a more ‘authentic’ Chinese experience, head to a smaller city or less densely populated province.

Although life in China is different to Western countries, you’re bound to have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure no matter where you live.

You will live in an apartment. It will have everything you need: bed, table, chairs or couch, TV, fridge, toasting oven, shower and washing machine.

 

Most accommodations don’t have a full oven, so don’t expect to cook a roast! Food in China is cheap, so you’ll mostly eat out anyway.

Apartments are either one or two bedrooms. In most cases you’ll live on your own.

Salaries range from about 6,000 RMB to almost 20,000 RMB per month.

 

To give some perspective, the average Chinese salary is about 3,000 RMB per month. With a salary of at least double that, you will live like a king or queen in China!

If you work in the public school system, the accommodation is included in your salary package.

Chinese food is delicious!

 

Each region of China is famous for its own special dishes. For example, the city of Chongqing, in western China, is known for its spicy food, while Guangzhou, in the south, has sweeter food.

The food in China is quite different to the Hong Kong-style Chinese food you might be used to in your own country. For example, deep-fried chicken with lemon sauce is virtually impossible to find in mainland China!

If you don’t like Chinese food at all, teaching in China may not be the best option for you. In some cities, the only Western food options will be fast food like McDonalds and KFC.

Bigger cities have Western-style supermarkets and steak restaurants.

Chinese students are enthusiastic and eager to do well.

 

Young students can be very excitable and one of your biggest challenges will be taking control of the classroom and managing their behaviour.

You’ll have the opposite challenge with older students and adults – the challenge will be getting them to speak!

You get to choose the kind of school you’ll work at. The options are kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school, university and private center.

 

In the public school system, you generally work during the day from Monday to Friday and have the weekend off. In the private school system, you generally work on weekends and on some weekday evenings, and have two weekdays off (often Monday and Tuesday).

 

You could work anywhere from 16 to 38 contact hours a week, depending on the school and your contract. Generally, the more hours you work, the higher your salary.

 

At universities, working just 16 contact hours a week is quite common. However, don’t forget you’ll need to spend time outside of class planning lessons.

At private centers, the workload is higher and you could work up to 38 hours a week.

Absolutely! In fact, schools prefer you not knowing any Mandarin as they want you to speak English 100% of the time.
There’s an estimated 400 million people learning English in China at any one time, so you’re bound to meet people who can speak English. Many teachers at your school will be able to speak English.

 

Older people generally don’t have a good grasp of English.

It’s very cheap living in China. Lunch is just a few dollars, dinner a bit more. It’s only expensive if you consistently eat at Western restaurants.
If accommodation, utility bills and internet are included in your contract (as per most public school contracts), your only expenses will be food, public transport and any incidentals.

 

If you eat the local food you will have a lot of money left over.

Your teaching contract in China

Because we work with many schools, each contract is different. The most important things to look out for in your contract are your working hours, salary and entitlements (like holiday pay). We can help ensure your contract has everything you need in it.
You can choose to renew it, apply to work at a new school/location or finish up and return home.
In most cases, yes, and the details will be included in your contract. Where it’s not included, you generally get paid more or get a housing allowance to go towards the cost.
It depends on the school that you teach at. In most cases, you’ll get free accommodation, a reimbursement of your airfare (once you’ve completed your contract), free health insurance, paid holidays and a sponsored visa.
Yes. The number of sick days you get depends on the contract you have with the school.
You have sick leave in case you get sick. However, please keep in mind that there may not be a replacement teacher to look after your class if you take the day off. You should only miss class if you are genuinely ill.
It’s one year. At the end of the contract, you can renew it or finish up.
In the rare case that you must break contract and return home, you must leave China immediately per the rules of your working visa.
Your school pays you back what you spent on your flight once you’ve completed your contract, up to an agreed limit. This limit is different for each school and should be included in your contract.
Yes. Check your contract for details as the number of days differs slightly between schools. Some schools will give you Christmas Day off.

Preparing for China

To allow time to prepare the paperwork and get your visa, you should allow at least four months before your start date.
Once your contract is signed, your school will send you an invitation letter. You’ll need to take this to the visa office to get your visa.The visa process for China is relatively straightforward.
Yes, let us know if you get stuck. If you don’t want to get involved in the visa process at all, we can do it for you for a fee.
To be able to get a working visa, you’ll need to get a blood test to prove you don’t have HIV (this is a China visa rule; not a Hello Teacher! rule). Some doctors recommend you get immunized for viruses like hepatitis and typhoid before you go. Speak to your doctor in advance for the most up-to-date immunization information.

 

Schools in China

Public schools in China have basic facilities, classroom equipment and aids. Campuses can be enormous due to the large number of students enrolled.

 

Private schools in China usually have better facilities, equipment and aids. The centers are smaller and there are fewer students.

The main differences are the days you will teach, the hours you will teach, the conditions and the salary.

 

In the public school system in China, you will work during weekdays and have the weekend off. You could have as little as 16 contact hours a week.

In the private school system in China, you will probably have to work on the weekend and on evenings during the week. You will have two days off during the week (often Monday and Tuesday).

The conditions are better in private schools due to the more advanced facilities and equipment. Classes are usually quite small with up to 15 students in each class.

In public schools, classes are large with up to 45 students in each class.

Your career in China

Both! Some teachers go to China for one year only, while others renew their contract or change schools and stay much longer. Whether you stay for one year or longer, when you return home you will have some fantastic experience under your belt.
The formal ‘pre-training’ is obtaining your TEFL certificate.

 

In the public school system, you will get basic training on where your classrooms are located, where various school facilities (like the canteen) are located, and how to operate any equipment in the classroom. Your school liaison officer will be happy to help with any other questions you have.

In the private school system, the training is generally more robust and you will be expected to teach in the style of that school. You will be trained by experienced English teachers and/or the school’s support staff.

Promotion opportunities are mostly available in the private school system. If you perform well and wish to stay for more than a year, you could be promoted to a role such as senior teacher, assistant director of studies or director of studies.

Teaching abroad

China is very safe. Crime against foreigners in China is very low. Like anywhere overseas, however, you should always take care of yourself and your belongings.
China is a developing country. This means China is ‘less modern’ than countries like Japan and South Korea, so the conditions are different.

 

Teaching English in China is an absolute adventure. As long as you’re flexible and adaptable in your approach to life and work, you should be fine.

On the job in China

You’ll be teaching oral English.

 

The focus of the local teachers is usually on writing and grammar. That’s why there’s a demand for instruction in oral English.

If you have experience teaching particular subjects, such as chemistry or maths, then you can apply to teach in a specialist area outside of oral English.

Your school should give you feedback on your performance. If this doesn’t happen and you would like feedback, ask your school liaison officer to arrange this.
Most schools in China have internet access in the classroom. However, the connection in some schools can be temperamental – remember, China is still a developing country! It’s important that you always have a back-up lesson (that doesn't rely on the internet) in case something goes wrong.
You will have some equipment, though each school’s equipment varies.

 

In the public school system, a chalkboard and TV may be the only equipment available. You’ll therefore need to improvise and create fun and engaging lessons with lots of games and activities. University classrooms often have an overhead projector to use as well.

In the private school system, equipment is usually a lot better. You may have an interactive whiteboard, iPad and other multimedia devices.

Yes, you will. Note, however, that many English textbooks in China are of poor quality, so you may need to create your own lesson plans.
Yes, you will. Your school will inform you of when, and how often, this should take place.
In the public school system, you will have to prepare your own lesson plans. To get you started, we can help with some free lesson plans. In the private school system, many schools have set lessons and you have to follow these precisely.

 

Young Chinese students can be very excitable and one of your biggest challenges will be taking control of the classroom and managing their behavior. You’ll have the opposite challenge with older students and adults – the challenge will be getting them to speak English!
A typical day teaching in China depends on the type of school you're placed in and the number of hours you teach.

 

In the public school system, you’ll likely teach at least a few classes on each weekday. Classes will last for about an hour.

In some public schools, you might even get a weekday off (in addition to the weekend), depending on how your classes are spread throughout the week. You’ll find this out once you arrive at your school.

In the private school system, classes are often held on weekends and weeknights.

This depends on the level you wish to teach. You can teach kindergarten-age students right up to adults.

Your support network in China

Each school has a liaison officer to help foreign teachers.
Not in public schools, but you might have one if you teach kids in a private school.
Generally, yes. Most schools we work with have placed foreign teachers before and employ more than one at a time. However, this is not guaranteed.
Yes, thanks to your liaison officer at the school. Of course, you can always contact us too.

The application and recruitment process to teach in China

It's easy - you can apply online. If you have any questions, simply contact us.
Applications are accepted throughout the year. If you want to work in the public school system, you should apply no later than three months before the semester starts to allow for visa processing. That means you should apply by June for a Semester 1 start (in September) or by November for a Semester 2 start (in February).
It depends on the kind of experience you’re looking for.

 

Schools on the richer east coast generally have better conditions and pay higher salaries than those in central and west China. However, the cost of living in the east is higher.

If you want as many mod-cons as possible, stick to the bigger cities and the east coast. If you’re looking for a more ‘authentic’ Chinese experience, consider a smaller city or less densely populated province.

No matter which place you choose, you’re bound to have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure teaching in China.

Unfamiliar with China's geography? Our information on China’s provinces will help.

It’s relatively straightforward. You’ll have an initial interview with Hello Teacher! on the phone or on Skype. You will have at least one further interview with our China-based recruitment partner on Skype.
No, our service is free for job seekers.

About Hello Teacher!

We recruit English teachers for China.
No, we’re a recruiter and don’t run a set program. You’ll love us because you have a choice of location, type of school, working hours, and salary and benefits.
No. We take privacy seriously and have a privacy policy. On the application form, if you select ‘yes’ to the ‘Would you like help with travel arrangements?’ question, STA Travel will contact you to assist with your travel plans such as discounted flights and travel insurance.