Teaching English in China

teaching in china

Language has been a unifying factor since the dawn of time. It gives one the freedom of expression, a shared sense of living, and creates connections that sustain us. Civilizations can vouch for the importance of languages and communicating. Right now there is a huge demand for teaching English in China.

English is a popular language used by us to communicate, so much so, that it is taught in nearly every part of the world. There is just a bounty of reasons to justify its need and importance. As we are growing closer and closer every day because of globalization and other factors, knowing and being able to communicate fluently in English is just a bonus. It helps you connect with people and opportunities.

If you are proficient in spoken and written English, an opportunity is knocking at your door.

China, a country set to be a superpower shortly, is inviting English teachers to their country. Home to a massive population, this country has been embarking since the 20th century on a great and bright future. The Chinese understand and realize the importance of English and the avenues it leads to. Hence, China is a wonderful place for teachers seeking growth and to bridge gaps by imparting knowledge and removing language barriers.

The culture, social milieu, and the general environment might pose a challenge at first. But risk-takers can handle this easily. The journey here would certainly be exciting and help teachers achieve their role as change-makers.

A teacher’s role is noteworthy in a child’s life and can make a great difference. A country like China, where English is one of the popular foreign languages being taught, an English teacher can make a great impact on a child’s life. Chinese children are taught English in primary schools and this continues right through high schools, including grammar and literature exams throughout life.

A great English teacher will not only teach these young Chinese minds a foreign language, but will also make them fall in love with a language that is not known to them.

If your mind is still plagued with second thoughts about this novel opportunity, then you must consider the boom of English teaching centers in the country. China is currently seeing a boom of English Language Learner centers in major cities motivating children to improve academically. Its top-notch international schools and public schools also have their doors open for dedicated and hardworking English teachers who can not only teach a language, but can also make them feel comfortable and adept at communicating in the same. China is known to have an academic milieu that encourages both students and teachers to strive for excellence and derive the best.

Requirements for teaching English in China

For you to teach English in China, your resume should include the following:

  1. A bachelor’s degree with English as one of the subjects.
  2. A TEFL certification
  3. If you do not have a bachelor’s degree or any other equivalent, then you must possess experience in teaching English professionally, at least two years.
  4. A passport from an English-speaking country. If you are not from a native English-speaking country, then you must at least possess experience.
  5. A criminal background check
  6. If you are just starting or are switching careers and lack basic experience, begin with teaching English online. There are various platforms where you can teach English online. This will not only give you experience, but will also give you insight and prepare you for the future.

Types of teaching jobs

Private Schools and Academies of Languages 

As the word private indicates, the private language academies and schools are centers of English language learning. They have been on the rise due to the growing demand and the importance of the language and ever since they have been cropping up in major metropolitan cities. With them, there is a corresponding need for excellent English teachers who are competent enough to not only derive excellence but also profits.

As profits always accompany anything private, the same is the case with these academies and schools of the English language. This pursuit of profit often invites stiff competition and the job will always make you strive for better. But this pursuit will also make you a business entity. You are not just working to better lives, but are working to further a corporation. So, you will have to encounter corporate guidelines and related stress. Some of these private schools and academies of languages are Wall Street English, Longman schools, Education First, and many more. These academies cater to a plethora of people and not just children, so the age of your students will depend on the academy or school you choose to work for.

However, if you do end up taking a job in a private academy or school, know that there is nothing to worry about as the work structure and ethic are worth paying attention to. The structure is such that you are given a syllabus to work with, a set of guidelines, and approachable peers who are ready to help and guide. They do not expect you to know everything, even if you are a teacher, and have a framework in place that promotes and delivers effective counseling. Thus, experience or no experience, you can always follow before you become ready to lead. The transition is facilitated by private academies and schools.

This job pays well, but it also will require a good number of hours of work.

Public Schools

These centers of learning pay less, but have side benefits that make up for this loss. Fewer hours and sufficient holidays interspersed in the schooling make for an excellent job opportunity. This job is like that of a typical school teacher. You would either live on campus or off campus nearby, make use of school resources like the school cafeteria, library and be responsible for the organization and execution of events and extracurricular activities like talent hunts, poetry recitals, and so on. The class size could be up to 50 students, and you might be supported by a foreign supplemental teacher making the size not a very significant problem. They give considerable leeway and freedom in designing the curriculum, mode of teaching, and thus require creativity and mindfulness.

Visa paperwork and reliability are some of the problems that you might face when choosing to work here. Job searching is particularly difficult if you do it independently. So, taking the help of an agent might be necessary. Furthermore, public schools can be a predicament as they might try to undermine you if you are a foreigner.

There are also binding contracts if you lack experience or degree. It is better to meet the administration first before deciding to take the job.

The structure and support system are missing in the public schools, but its fringe benefits are also worth considering.

teaching english in china

Private Lessons

You can also offer your services by way of private lessons for families, businesses, and the like. These one on one classes are high in demand given the sole attention given to the student and the comfort. It requires little to no planning and is often directed by the student’s previous knowledge, as well as being a good source of income. This job can be obtained by establishing connections and building upon them.

Salary expectations for teaching English in China

Your pay as an English teacher can range from $1400 to $2200 per month. However, if you choose to work for a private academy or school or international school, your salary can run from $2800 to $4300 per month. If you earn about $1200 a month, they are likely to provide you with fringe benefits like free housing; but if it’s above $1600, then you are likely to be on your own. Also, your school may bear traveling costs.

The living costs range from $350 to $650, but will ultimately depend on where you choose to live. The rent for five months has to be paid upfront in China. So, be mindful. Further, a nice dinner and some drinks could cost you $6-15 per evening. It will be easy to get by.

teaching english in china

Looking for a job teaching English in China

If you are relatively new to the country, then the cultural shock and the unfamiliarity might be frightening. But you can always find comfort in places like restaurants, in food and in people too. 

The city has many translation assistance places that can help you no matter where you end up lost.

Sift through the Internet to find the best cities for teaching jobs. On this search, you might come across websites written in Chinese, employers unable to communicate with you properly. It is advisable to recruit agencies like Reach To Teach, CIEE, and the like, who will help you throughout the job application and related processes.

Remember that the peak hiring season starts in February and falls off in November. But you can always try in the later months as well.

Work visas and sponserships

Obtaining a work visa can be a stressful process. But with the right documents, you will face no major problems. A letter of acceptance will help you with the work permit. In addition to this, you will need a residence permit, medical clearance, and so on. Sift through your contract to see if the school can pay for travel and related costs. Check out this guide for more in-depth information about the visa process.

Work culture

chinese culture

The student-teacher relationship is very casual and friendly. The Chinese students often look up to English teachers as fun and refreshing. Also, the dress code is pretty casual. Denim is acceptable. For female teachers, wearing short clothes is not frowned upon if the shoulders and chest are covered.

The people are friendly and will greet you with a wave or a handshake. 

The work culture expects you to respond no matter the time. There may be sudden requests, changes in schedule, holidays, etc.

Tips and tricks

Once you arrive in China, explore and make connections. You might end up doing something different or a lot more than what you came for. In such a case, be careful and read contracts, as there may be legal complications that might force you to work longer than is bearable.

If you enjoyed this article about teaching English in China please check out our other teaching articles here!