Teaching English in China
In terms of teaching opportunities for ESL Teachers, something like half the adverts for English teachers found online relate to teaching in China. It’s perhaps not surprising when you consider there are reportedly as many people studying English in China as there are native English speakers in the rest of the world. The demand for English teachers in China seems insatiable. Although it’s true that rogues exist everywhere, it’s also fair to say that a huge percentage of the fake jobs posted online aimed at luring the guilible into sending copies of their identity documents and credit card numbers also relate to teaching in China.
However, if you want to teach English overseas, there are few places in the world with as rich a cultural heritage as China. The Chinese economy has enjoyed massive growth in recent decades and brings with it an ever-growing demand for employees who speak English. This, plus greater prosperity and large scale migration is changing the country on an almost daily basis.
China is a a country crammed with contrasts, with both bustling, modern coastal cities and rural areas which will make you feel as if you’ve stepped into a history book. If you want to teach English in China you need to be adaptable.
A large percentage of current teaching vacancies in China relate to teaching young children. Teachers may find themselves based at a main language centre but taking lessons in local kindergartens or elementary schools, sometimes assisted by the children’s regular teacher. In addition, there are also plenty of jobs available for those who prefer teaching adults, often teaching Business English.
Rules change from time to time and it’s difficult to keep websites up to date, so we always recommend that you check current requirements and procedures at your Chinese Embassy to avoid problems or disappointment.
Accomodation and Salaries
Because it is hard for new arrivals to secure accommodation before starting work, many employers provide accommodation for their new recruits, which generally involves sharing with others. Some schools will also contribute towards your flights, but usually only for your flight home and only if you see your contract out. Teaching salaries vary considerably, usually depending on your qualifications, and can range between US$500 and $1500 a month.
Finding a job
Finding a teaching job in China isn’t particularly hard, but you need to do a little research before committing yourself. First, read the job advert carefully. Are you looking at an advert from an agency which is trying to create lists of teachers or are you looking at an advert for a specific job in a specific location? What assistance do they provide in obtaining a visa, what level of work and income is guaranteed?
It is always worth contacting your local Chinese Embassy to see what jobs they have listed. The numbers will be smaller, but you can be guaranteed that the jobs will be genuine and from registered schools.
Qualifications and Working Visas
In order to teach English in China, teachers must have a native level of English, TEFL certification and a first degree from a recognised university in order to obtain a working visa. Although it is not often specified as a qualification, the ability to speak basic Chinese will improve your prospects immensely.
If you want to teach English in China, you will need a work permit. There are currently two types of visa; the Z-visa and F-visa. As a rule, you need a Z-visa to teach English. Be sure you apply for the right visa and if in any doubt, always consult your local Chinese Embassy. To obtain a work visa you need to take your documents and proof of your job offer to your local Chinese Embassy. Both the initial application and the visa itself need to be collected in person and our understanding is that teachers now need to apply for a working visa in their own country, not in China.
There are a variety of visa available for visitors to China. As already stated, teachers currently require a Z-visa. For the avoidance of confusion, the other most commonly requested visas are:
- L-Visa – This is a tourist visa
- F-Visa – This is a Business or short-term student visa
You can see that the above visas are not intended for working teachers. Get the right one. Different visas cost different amounts and can also vary according to the area where you plan to work, so check this well in advance. You will almost certainly need a criminal records check certificate from your country of origin and a criminal record can severely limit your chances of finding a job, even if only for minor offences.