Teaching English in China

There are many opportunities for teaching English in China. The demand is high, and so is the turnover. Many teachers have a good experience and often remain in China for years. But beware of job scams. Although most schools are honest, many of the agents recruiting for teaching jobs in China are not. More on that later.

Requirements for Teaching English in China

You need a degree and an Z visa – whatever anyone tells you.

You will also need to apply for a residence permit within 30 days of entering China (this is in addition to your Z visa), and you will need to get a work permit. Your school should help you with both of these, likewise they should help you register with police on arrival.

You will also need documentation of 2 years of teaching experience (this is a new requirement)but is not necessary if you have a TEFL certificate or MA TESOL

There are a few employers who are willing to turn a blind eye to legalities (this is NOT in your interest).

teaching english in china

in Beijing 

Be Careful of Scams

Remember that teaching English in China is a positive experience for many, with keen students, and schools that simply want to make money by providing a service. That said, because of the huge demand, and the large numbers of English teachers looking for work, a number of scams have developed. The following are the most obvious things to look for:

If the school does not offer a Z-visa – run!

If a recruiter wants your passport or copy of it without a job offer – run!

Beware of agents. They're not all bad, but many are. Beware of glowing recommendations on forums – some are planted by sock puppets. Wherever possible it's best to apply directly to the institution you're interested in. 

I hope you have a great time in teaching English in China – and if you plan to teach in one of the big cities remember to pack a mask!

teaching english in china

steamed dumplings

Salaries for Teaching English in China

Salaries – vary a lot!

Here are some points to bear in mind:

  1. Is the job in a big city or a small city? In the big, expensive cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen for example) salaries are, and need to be, higher. In the countryside you can live on much less, and the salaries usually reflect this.
  2. Will you have a heavy workload or a light workload. Obviously, if you teach 30 hours a week you will (and should) receive more money (perhaps quite a lot more) than if you're working for a public university where you might only teach 10 to 14 hours a week, and where you may well receive longer paid vacations.
  3. Does the school offer free accommodation? Accommodation in the bigger cities can be quite high.
  4. Some people want to gain experience in management and are willing to work in some of the lower paying chain schools which can offer the opportunity to work as a senior teacher, assistant DOS or DOS. If this interests you, find a branch with a good reputation. They vary a lot and much will depend on the particular branch manager or franchise owner. Ask teachers who already work there.
  5. How skilled, experienced and qualified you are This one will have less effect on your salary, but it's worth stressing, and it will mean that you will have a wider choice of jobs to apply to. 
  6. Luck! Being in the right place at the right time, and having the right connections. 

11,000 yuan a month would be low for Shanghai, but 10,000 yuan a month is a good offer for a job in a smaller city with free accommodation provided; if the job is in a public university with low hours, a lower salary could be acceptable. 

Be aware that salaries change – do your own research. Check out job ads for teaching English in China and ask on TEFL forums.

teaching english in china

A quieter section of the Great Wall

It's well worth learning to speak Chinese (Mandarin) when you're here – even if you only learn a little, you'll have a better experience. And with so many interesting places to travel to within the country, you can have a lot more fun meeting and speaking to people. 

You can find a lot of online learning materials for the language. 

Learning martial arts is also very possible. Decide whether you want traditional or modern wushu (if your interest is really traditional kung fu, then Taiwan might be better for you).

Chinese cuisine is well worth exploring, but be aware that there's some problem with overuse of pesticides – wash your vegetable well if you cook at home. Chinese beer is good and quite cheap, but beware of fake wine or spirits. If something tastes strange, it probably is – and it's best to dump it.

The situation for English teaching in China changes rapidly. A good source of information on teaching English in China is Middle Kingdom Life 

Another option, especially if you're interested in learning Chinese with traditional characters, is teaching English in Taiwan 

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