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Home / Teach English in China: The complete Guide for TEFL Teachers | Reviewed May 2022

TEFL Jobs In China

Overview

Are you wondering what it is like to teach English in China? China is, without a doubt, the world’s TEFL powerhouse. Whether you wish to teach English to Chinese students online or work as a TEFL teacher in China, the market is vast and continually expanding. Some speculate about when the TEFL boom in China will slow down, but there is little evidence that this will happen anytime soon, with an increasing number of Chinese individuals enrolling in English classes to improve their education and professional prospects.

If you’re seeking an unforgettable teach abroad experience, China is the place to be. Hike the Great Wall, learn Chinese, sample new and delicious cuisine, and collaborate with students who are ecstatic to have you. What’s not to like about this? The Chinese teach abroad sector is flourishing, and with more vacancies than teachers, landing a fantastic career teaching abroad in China is almost too easy.

We’ve prepared a comprehensive guide for those who would like to teach English in China, whether you’re passionate about getting a job in China or just eager to learn more! We’ll go through the different types of jobs you can apply for, the qualifications you’ll need, how to apply, and what kind of salary and benefits you can expect. We’ll also go over some of the finest places to apply to and teaching opportunities to look into.

Teach English in China: Types of Jobs

Public schools, training centres, and foreign schools are the three primary types of schools where you could find a job teaching English in China. Because these schools are all so different from one another, it’s a good idea to get to know each one so you can figure out which one is right for you!

Chinese Public Schools 

Many Chinese public schools employ oral English teachers to help pupils improve their speaking and listening skills.

You’ll most likely be a supplemental English teacher in a public school setting. Your students will most likely have a Chinese English teacher who will teach grammar and prepare them for the test; nevertheless, these lessons will nearly never include any spoken English. Your role will be to come in once a week (or twice a week!) and assist your pupils in becoming more comfortable with English.

Class sizes in Chinese public schools are often relatively large. Depending on their age range, you’ll probably be teaching 30-50 pupils in a class. You’ll also hold your classes on a very irregular basis.

Private language schools

Taking an English teaching job with a private company in China has the advantage of providing you with a support network, a set curriculum, and instructions for managing your classroom. Working for a private company may relieve some of your stress if you have little or no experience teaching English in another country. On the other hand, private schools are interested in expanding and making money; therefore, you will be considered not only a teacher but also a business partner. Working in a private ELL school might be advantageous if you don’t mind following corporate restrictions. There is usually a possibility for advancement within the firm.

In China, private ESL schools pay more than public schools, but you will also work longer hours. You will primarily teach English in smaller groups of 5-20 students in the evenings and on weekends. These for-profit ESL companies will put a lot of pressure on English teachers to please the paying parents. Working for an ESL school is the simplest method to find a job teaching English in China, and most businesses provide a variety of locations to choose from, ranging from China’s largest cities to smaller, less cosmopolitan towns. As a teacher, you will have a choice of places, and many firms will even allow you to shift to a different city after a few months if you like.

Training centres

Another common area to work in China is at a Chinese training institution. Students are frequently seen in these private for-profit centres in the late afternoons, evenings, and weekends. While this may work for some (especially if you’re not a morning person!), bear in mind that if you work at a training facility, your schedule will most likely not be Monday through Friday.

You’ll most likely be teaching basic oral English at a training centre, but plenty of other opportunities are available. For example, you may work as a SATs tutor, a TOEFL teacher, a college counsellor, a debate coach, a public speaking coach, or anything else! While some of these positions are available at public schools, they are more commonly found at training facilities.

International School

International schools are the most incredible option for you if you’re a qualified teacher with a degree in your own country and two years of teaching experience. You may teach anything in English here, including math, science, business, history, and…English!

These schools primarily serve the children of international residents or Chinese students planning to study abroad in high school or college and have plenty of opportunities to teach English in China.

While the requirements for this type of position are slightly more significant than those for a public school or training centre, the benefits and pay are also higher!

Work culture in China 

Teacher-Student Relationships

Students in China generally regard foreign English teachers as a delightful break from their regular sessions. They anticipate you being more relaxed, personable, and engaging than their prior teachers. As a result, some students may fail to attend class or attempt to complete assignments during class.

Teachers are allowed to be considerably more hands-on when it comes to youngsters. So feel free to embrace and play with your youngest students. Foreign teachers, especially those from England, are widely expected to bring ‘new and inventive Western learning approaches’ to the classroom. You’ll be asked to build new games and experiment with new teaching methods, and offer variety to a test-driven learning environment.

Dress code

In China, the teacher clothing code is very relaxed, especially in the winter when the classrooms are chilly. Many professors come to class dressed up in denim. When instructing older students, ladies, be careful not to expose too much skin. While some female teachers wear short skirts and dresses, they always cover their shoulders and chests.

Workplace Environment

Everything in China is done at the last minute. Expect to learn your holiday schedule only a few days before the holiday, which can make travel planning highly stressful and costly. Also, keep in mind that schedules might change at any time. Don’t be surprised if you get a text at 8 am telling you to be at school in 20 minutes.

Furthermore, many schools, particularly public schools, have a lack of communication. As a result, the school may overlook important dates, times, or activities, resulting in missed classes and frustration. Thankfully, most schools understand and apologise if they forget to notify you of your timetable change. However, most teachers, who come from a society where timetables are set months in advance, find this exceedingly frustrating.

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LIVING COSTS

The cost of living in China varies greatly depending on where you live and the lifestyle you choose. Even if they are paid 15,000 RMB per month, a foreigner who eats out in foreign restaurants and visits Starbucks on weekends will quickly deplete their earnings. A teacher making 11,000 RMB per month, on the other hand, can live like a king while also saving money if they shun imported goods and eat like a local, preferring fried rice to beef burgers. Consider the price of a cup of coffee (imported commodity) against a simple supper for two (eating local produce).

Even if you are frugal, it will be challenging to have much leftover at the end of the month if you reside in a city like Shanghai. However, if you live in a medium-sized city like Hangzhou (population: 10 million), you can expect to save a few thousand RMB per month if you embrace the local lifestyle and share a flat with another instructor. Don’t dismiss smaller towns and remote locales; many teachers prefer small towns and remote locations over Shanghai’s sophisticated metropolis. Do your research and try to speak with other ex-pats in the area you’re interested in.

China is a traveller’s paradise. From rapid trains to domestic airlines, cheap domestic travel makes seeing the country during your vacation a breeze. However, be aware that crowds can be a significant concern during public holidays. As a result, many people prefer to travel abroad during these hectic times, such as the Spring Festival, rather than face the world’s largest human movement.

Even on a limited budget, you can enjoy entertainment every weekend in your neighbourhood. Magnificent parks and gardens, traditional old towns to explore, enormous museums, eccentric Hutong backstreets, modern art and theatre, mountain climbing, the possibilities are infinite. One crucial factor to consider when deciding how to spend your time in China is where you are and what the weather is like! China is large, having cold winters in some areas and hot summers in others. So make sure you do your homework.

  • Accommodation: £606–£813/€705–€980
  • Utilities: £47/€55
  • Health insurance: Cost of a typical visit to a GP: £39/€45
  • Monthly transport pass: £18/€21
  • Basic dinner out for two: £21/€25
  • Cappuccino in ex-pat area: £3.61/€4.25
  • A beer in a pub: £3.19/€3.75
  • 1 litre of milk: £1.55/€1.80

TEFL Jobs In China: KEY POINTS

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AVERAGE SALARY

9,000–18,000 RMB

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EDUCATION NEEDED

Prerequisite university degree

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TEFL CERTIFICATE NEEDED

120 Hour TEFL Certificate

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MAIN JOB TYPES

Public, private & Training centres

KEY FACTS

  • Popular locations for TEFL jobs: Beijing, Shanghai, Ningbo, Chengdu, Chongqing, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dalian, Yangzhou, Nanjing
  • Average salary for EFL teachers: The basic monthly salary for full-time positions is likely to be in the region of 9,000–18,000 RMB (£1,000–£2,000/€1,100–€2,275) per month, with the usual salary at about 13,000 RMB (£1,450/$1,660) per month. At an International school, you could be earning 30,000 RMB (£3,330/$4,000) per month. In addition, many schools offer flight reimbursement, performance bonuses and other perks such as accommodation.
  • TEFL qualification requirements: A 120-hour TEFL qualification is a minimum requirement.
  • Prerequisite university degree: You must have a BA degree (in any discipline) to get your Foreign Expert Certificate for your Z visa
  • Term times: September to July
  • Currency: Chinese Yuan Renminbi (RMB)
  • Language: Mandarin Chinese
  • Teaching programmes: Private Language Schools, Public Primary and Secondary Schools, Universities, Kindergartens, Volunteering, Freelance, Online, Business English, Summer Camp
  • Age restrictions: Maximum 55
  • Previous teaching experience: Not required for many positions

Summing up the TEFL experience in China is difficult because there are many different roles available (from kindergartens to universities and business language schools to enjoyable summer camps). The majority of Chinese teachers work for private language schools, where they primarily teach children but may also have teen or adult sessions. The majority of these schools function as extracurricular clubs to which wealthy parents send their children in order to help them advance. On the other hand, you may want to teach English in China somewhere that focuses on fun and games, with lots of singing, dancing, and crafts, or somewhere that offers professional lesson plans and materials, as well as defined goals for children.

Regardless of their educational focus, these private language schools are ultimately managed as companies rather than educational institutions. Class fees are expensive, and only wealthy families can afford to send their children there. As a result, they expect results, as you’ll see if you try to give a student a bad mark or make a negative comment on their report — parents don’t pay thousands of RMB for this kind of service. 

Teaching English in China presents several hurdles for academic greatness, from falsifying results to appease parents to cramming extra students into overcrowded classes so that friends may sit together. It can be challenging to turn a blind eye to such behaviour, but if you embrace the experience for what it is, private teaching jobs can be rewarding, enjoyable and provide you with a solid foundation for your TEFL career.

Teaching Chinese pupils to speak and write English is a lot of fun. Young students can be cheeky or mischievous, but they’re also talkative, eager, hardworking, and competitive. Teens can be shy and silent, and in general, older kids are less opinionated, preferring tasks with correct and incorrect answers. The majority of full-time teaching roles are for 20 to 28 hours a week. You get out of a job what you put into it. You may put in a lot of effort, grow as a teacher, and create fantastic connections. There are also many ‘gap year’ teachers who do the bare minimum in order to enjoy their time off.

Facts about Teach English in China: The complete Guide for TEFL Teachers | Reviewed May 2022

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LANGUAGE

Mandarin Chinese

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POPULATION

1,400 million

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TEFL TEACHERS DEMAND

High

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CURRENCY

Renminbi (元/¥)[h]

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CAPITAL

Beijing

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OUR CHINA TEFL RATING

3.8/5

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TEFL Jobs In China: FAQS

Q:

How much can I earn teaching English in China?

You can earn anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 RMB (€1,200 to €4,000) per month teaching English in China, depending on your expertise and the institution where you work. Airfare, housing, and other amenities are frequently included in programmes.

To teach English in China, you do not need to know any Chinese. Many of the training programmes provide free Chinese classes to English teachers.

Yes. Many teach abroad programmes in China pay a competitive income and cover nearly all your expenses, such as flights, medical insurance, and accommodation.

No. Without a bachelor’s degree, you are not permitted to work as a full-time English teacher in China.

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