Teaching English in China is one of the most amazing experiences you'll ever have.
Whether you choose to do a gap year or stay long term, you'll have a blast in China. You'll witness an incredible culture, gain valuable work experience and have the opportunity to travel across China and Asia.
You can also get these great benefits:
China's education system is unique and foreign ESL teachers are welcomed with open arms.
So what are you waiting for? Apply today.
So you want to teach English in China but still have a few burning questions? Here are some of the most common questions people ask.
There are so many reasons why people choose to teach English in China.
China is an incredibly diverse country and you’ll get to experience different cultures and people, visit stunning attractions and eat delicious food. China is also close to other countries in Asia, so there are plenty of travel opportunities between semesters.
China is developing at a rapid rate. This means the benefits and conditions for foreign English teachers keep on improving. You can earn a generous salary teaching in China, and enjoy perks like free accommodation and the reimbursement of the cost of your return flight.
Teaching English in China truly is an unforgettable and life-changing experience. If you’re still not convinced, here are even more reasons why you should teach in China.
According to the State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs (SAFEA), which sets down the regulations and guidelines for foreign teachers in China, you should hold a bachelor’s degree and more than two years of related work experience to teach English in China.
In reality, however, most Chinese schools require you to have a TEFL certificate (in addition to your bachelor’s degree) and are less interested in your work experience. You should also be a native English speaker.
If you have a degree in education or teaching, then you don’t need a TEFL certificate to teach in China.
You generally need a bachelor's degree and TEFL certificate to teach in China.
Teaching legally in China requires a Z visa from a Chinese embassy or consulate. The Z visa is the only valid work visa. Sponsorship from an employer, i.e. a school, is needed in order to obtain this special visa.
There are particular visa requirements that you must satisfy to teach English in China, e.g. you should be in good health and not have criminal convictions. Applying for a Z visa can take time so it’s best to start preparing early.
It’s important to remember that China is still a developing country, and the Chinese way of doing things can be quite different to what you’re used to. This means the ideal teacher should be flexible and adaptable, and can just go with the flow.
In summary, to be able to teach English in China you should:
You need to complete a TEFL course. You can do this online, in person, or a combination of both online and in person.
No matter which option you choose, 120 hours of study is the minimum requirement for teaching in China.
To make it easy for you, we’ve teamed up with TEFL Source to offer you top TEFL courses from leading providers all in one place. Simply choose a course, pay the low price, and start!
Once you successfully complete the course, you'll receive your TEFL certificate.
You need a working visa to teach English in China. This is referred to as the Z visa. You should not enter China on any other visa.
You need a Z visa to teach English in China.
Once you’ve accepted a job offer and signed your contract, you need to apply for the Z visa. This involves a number of steps:
The visa process can take time, so it’s important to start it early. Before you start, make sure you’re familiar with all the details of each step in the visa process.
China regards the teaching profession highly and teachers are respected.
If you’re teaching in the public system, you’ll spend time outside the classroom creating lesson plans. On the other hand, if you’re teaching in a private center or language institute, you’ll generally be expected to work from set lesson plans created by the school.
Managing student behavior will be a key part of your role. While most students in China are well behaved, you may need to pay special attention to a few students.
Younger students are very active and often noisy, while older students can be passive and quiet. You’ll therefore have different challenges depending on the age of your students.
The more experience you get, the more comfortable you’ll be working with different types of students.
Conditions vary between schools, provinces and cities. For example, schools on the richer east coast typically have better conditions and pay higher salaries than schools in inland China. However, the cost of living in the eastern provinces is higher.
If you prefer having mod-cons and a more contemporary way of life, teach in one of the big cities on the east coast. Beijing, Shanghai are Shenzhen are good examples.
If massive cities aren’t your thing, teach in a smaller city or less densely populated province. Many teachers prefer a more relaxed lifestyle and revel in the opportunity of immersing themselves in Chinese culture and language.
A typical ESL teacher’s day in China varies depending on a number of factors, like the type of school and the amount of classes. One thing is for sure though – teaching in China is incredibly rewarding and one of the best experiences you’ll ever have.
You can teach in a range of schools in China, helping little kids through to adults.
Typical high school campus in China.
In terms of working hours, facilities and salaries, there is a big difference between the public education sector and the private education sector in China.
For example, if you choose to work in a private language institute, you may have classes at night and on the weekend, and the workload may be bigger than a public school. However, in return you’ll earn a higher salary.
Foreign teachers have a number of decisions to make as to what options would suit them best. It’s not always a case of higher salary equals better position.
You will live in a clean and simple apartment. It will be situated within your school’s campus or a few minutes away by foot or public transport.
Foreign teacher apartments generally contain a bed, wardrobe, sofa, table and chairs, TV, fridge, toasting oven or microwave, shower and washing machine. This should be everything you need to feel comfortable.
As each school is different, you can clarify exactly where your apartment is located, and what it contains, before signing your teaching contract.
One of the great perks of teaching in China is that most positions include free accommodation. In other cases, you may receive a generous subsidy (extra money in your pay) to go towards accommodation.
Monthly salaries for ESL teachers in China generally range from about 6,000 RMB to 18,000 RMB.
Even if your salary was at the lower end of the scale, you would still be earning more than the average local salary in most Chinese cities.
The generous salaries for foreign teachers in China mean you can live like a king or queen. However, please keep in mind that any money you save in China won’t go as far in your home country when you exchange currencies.
You can earn a generous local salary while teaching in China.
The amount of money you can make teaching in China will depend on a number of factors, including:
There are other factors to consider in addition to the base salary you’ll receive. For example, your airfare reimbursement and any performance bonuses need to be factored into the equation as well.
Choosing to teach English in China solely for the money is an ill-conceived idea. Most people choose to teach in China to have the experience of a lifetime, not to make lots of money.
If you’re chasing the dollars perhaps you could consider an alternative Asian teaching destination like Japan or South Korea.
Make sure you start the visa process as early as possible. This is the most important thing you need to do when preparing to teach in China.
Access to range of websites in China, including Facebook, YouTube and Gmail, are blocked. That’s why you need a virtual private network (VPN).
Paying for a VPN before you arrive in China will ensure you have access to the sites you want to use. If you leave it until after you arrive, it may be very difficult, if not impossible to arrange this, as the sign-up or payment page could be blocked.
Learning a few Mandarin words before you go, even if it’s just ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’ and the numbers from 1 to 10, will help you in everyday situations in China.
There are many ways you can learn Chinese before you go, like via apps and videos, using flashcards, attending in-person classes and even being taught live over the internet.
If you’re unfamiliar with Chinese culture and history, you could do some reading or watch videos about China as part of your preparations. There are a number of high-profile movies about China which are enjoyable to watch.
There are a few things you should pack in your suitcase, including:
Bring enough money to last you at least a month or so as you may not be paid your salary until a month after your first class (due to the school’s pay cycle).
Ideally, you should arrive a week before your classes start to help you adjust to your new surroundings and China in general. Knowing things like where your classrooms are, and how to catch the bus into town, will help put your mind at ease.
Some teachers experience culture shock in China. This is normal and there are ways to help you overcome it, like meditation.
In summary, the best way to prepare for your new teaching job in China is to:
Not at all. In the classroom, you’re expected to speak English at all times. Outside of the classroom, you can still get by not speaking any Chinese (Mandarin).
Many signs and metro stations have English, you’ll find restaurants that have pictures in their menus, and the younger generations in China can speak a bit of English too.
Having said that, you’ll find daily life easier if you learn a few Chinese words and numbers, ideally before you arrive. This will help with things like ordering food, getting around and buying things at the shops.
You don't need to speak Chinese to teach English in China.
There are many quick and easy ways you can learn a bit of Chinese, such as mobile apps, digital flashcards and videos on YouTube. If you have a bit more time (and money) to spare, you could attend some classes or even do some live instruction over the internet.