With an approximate population of over 1.3 billion people and growing, there is an increasing demand for ESL teachers in China. If you’re looking to teach in China, you may be asking yourself many questions. What qualifications are needed? How much experience must I have? What is it like working in China? And ultimately, how do I become an ESL teacher?
In order to become an ESL teacher in China, you would need to have a Bachelor’s degree and be a native English speaker. You may additionally want to obtain a TEFL or TESOL certification, which will not only help you in acquiring a better paid ESL job but also provide a basis for you to build on your experience as an ESL teacher. There are different types of courses available depending on your experience and needs and can be done at your own pace although they can be completed within a month. Generally, any course with a duration of at least 120 hours is enough to qualify you for a visa and be able to work in the main cites in China. It will also prepare you for the classroom and equip you with the skills you need for a successful career. The great thing is that it is recognized worldwide so you could continue your career in another country afterwards!
Becoming an ESL teacher is like getting on a rollercoaster. It’s exciting and nerve racking at the same time and you won’t know what surprises are ahead. Due to the size of China, there are many opportunities to work in various areas; there are placements in metropolitan cities like Shanghai and Beijing or placements with a more authentic setting such as Yunnan. So you would need to think about where you would feel the most comfortable living. It may be a dream come true to live in rural China, surrounded by lush greenery and slow running streams, but when you’re craving some barbecued rack of ribs or your favourite French pastry, you may have second thoughts. In the same way, the hustle and bustle of the city can grow tiresome and you may dream of a quiet country escape. Of course there is always a middle ground in a smaller town, but it’s definitely something you should be considering carefully.
Next, you will also need to consider the type of school you would like to teach in. China has a variety of schools ranging from kindergartens, international schools and universities to adult learning centres. Within each institution the teaching style will be different so it’s important to consider the type of students you’d like to teach.
Becoming an ESL teacher in China is a great opportunity to broaden your horizons and also a great start to your career. Remember, if you don’t get on the ride you won’t experience the adventure!