Teaching English in China
China has numerous ESL opportunities available to native English speaking teachers. Foreign teachers can choose to teach English in a private language training school, or you can teach various subjects in a public school, an international school, or a university!
Teaching in China will not only provide you with many different opportunities, but it will also provide you with extra cash to spend on traveling or whatever else you'd like to do. Getting to China from your home country is the most difficult part because, after that, you can easily travel to and from the neighboring countries like Cambodia, Thailand, and Japan!
The opportunities to teach English in China are considered some of the best in the ESL market globally. This is due to high wages, low cost of living, and high demand for foreign teachers. Similar to the opportunities in South Korea years ago, but China is now the epicenter of teaching abroad.
Check out some facts about teaching in China:
Also keep in mind that teaching is a service, and China has an ever-growing demand within the service sector of the economy. For teachers, this means that the growth in demand will continue to outpace the growth in supply, so teachers that do go to China will make a good amount of money. If you're ever considered teaching abroad or teaching in China, now is a great time to finally make your move!
The fastest-growing segment of education jobs in China right now is at the professional level. The demand for instructors that are experienced in the following curriculums: American AP, British IGCSE, and A-Level as well as internationally accredited programs like International Baccalaureate (IB), has been steadily increasing every year. Meanwhile, the demand for recent university graduates and less experienced ESL teachers continues to outpace the supply of teachers.
Whether you’re a newbie or experienced professional, we at Teaching Nomad will be sure to find a position that meets your needs.
As of 2020, there are over 173 schools in China that use the IB curriculum. This equates to thousands of IB teaching positions, many of which are available to foreign teachers. Learn more about teaching IB in China, and check out the history and an overview of teaching IB abroad in our blog.
Why Consider Teaching in China?
China spans over 1,700 miles North to South connecting Harbin in Heilongjiang province (home of the famous Harbin ice festival) to Hong Kong with its humid subtropical climate. Each city has a lot of individual character and the local people take a lot of pride in this diversity.
Opportunities to teach English in China are almost as diverse as the country itself. Different types of schools and different parts of the country can provide totally unique experiences. For example, a business English instructor in the mega-city of Shanghai will have a very different experience than a kindergarten teacher in Chengdu. Not only are the attractions in the cities different but also the local culture and language. Whether or not you prefer to be in a specific location, your placement consultant will work to find you a suitable city that appeals to you.
Teaching abroad in China opportunities include pre-school, kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school, universities, and adult training schools. Not to mention the demand for freelance and hourly lessons. A new trend is also online teaching, which grants the flexibility to work with learners across the country with tight schedules. Working with Teaching Nomad will ensure you a well-compensated position (even for beginners) based on your experience and qualifications. Read about the different types of schools we work with in China.
Almost all teaching contracts in China are between 1 and 2 years. As the education market is maturing and the salaries are rising, schools do not want fly by night teachers that will leave their students hanging after a few months. Although beginner teachers are welcome, they need to take the position seriously and be prepared to honor their contractual obligations. And just remember- no matter where you want to go, there will be many teaching positions for you to choose from.
Where in China Can I Teach?
Cities in China are informally grouped into 3 tiers to give a broad reference to their stage in development. As China is a “developing nation”, the development status of these three tiers varies greatly! The cities recognized as tier 1 are Shanghai, Beijing, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. Some parts of these cities could easily be confused with western cities. There are over 170 cities in China with 1 million+ people and dozens of them are tier 2 status. This means they likely have an underground metro system, airport, high-speed train station, definitely KFC (Chicken) and Starbucks! While many people are looking to teach in Shanghai because of its international reputation, tier 3 cities will certainly be more of an adventure. With limited access to imported goods and few English speakers, these cities will certainly grant you a full immersion experience.
Teaching Nomad has openings in all 3 types of cities stretching as far North as Harbin, near the Russia border to as far south as Hainan island in the South China Sea and as far west as Chengdu in Sichuan province. The majority of our schools are in Tier 1 and Tier 2 cities but if you’re looking for a real adventure, we do have tier 3 city opportunities.
As the most international city in China, there are many teaching jobs in Shanghai. Remember that while salaries in Shanghai are higher than many tier 2 or 3 cities, the cost of living is also considerably higher than in most of mainland China. See all current openings in Shanghai here.
Schedule and Start Dates:
K-12 & Universities work on the same schedule as western countries with the fall semester starting in late August or early September and the spring semester starting after the Chinese New Year, March, (based on the lunar calendar). For fall positions we suggest applying 4-5 months in advance and 2-3 months in advance for spring. In addition, China has a huge number of training schools, which hire new teachers every month! No matter your schedule, we’ll be able to help find the best teaching opportunities available.
What are the differences between ESL, EFL, TEFL, TESL, TESOL, and TOEFL ? >
English as a Second Language (ESL) implies the teaching and learning of English in an English-speaking region.
Example - A child moves to the United States from Mexico, and they begin learning English in an ESL class.
English as a Foreign Language (EFL) implies the teaching and learning of English in non-English speaking regions.
Example - A child in Russia is taking an EFL class in school.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is the term used for teaching English in a country where it is not the primary language.
Example - A United Kingdom native going abroad and teaching English in China.
Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) is the term used for teaching English to non-native speakers that are located in an English speaking country.
Example - An Australian teaching English to students that have moved from Japan to Australia.
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) incorporates both TEFL and TESL practices. A TESOL certification is known for having rigorous standards for teachers, a prescribed curriculum, and a minimum of six hours of supervised practice teaching in an actual student-classroom environment. A TESOL certificate is widely recognized by EFL teaching schools and programs as the mark of a well trained, highly qualified EFL teacher.
On the student side, the Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) is a widely recognized test of proficiency in the English language. At most U.S. and U.K. colleges and universities, a verifiable passing mark on the TOEFL exam is a requirement to matriculate for all students from non-English-speaking countries.
Do I need to speak another language? >
No, as a matter of fact, the schools do not want you to speak Chinese in the classroom. In many cases, you will work with a local Chinese teacher in the classroom that can translate if needed. Assuming you would like to learn Mandarin, you can search for classes online, find a private tutor, or sign up for group classes.
What will my travel expenses be? >
First, you will need to need to authenticate your documents, get your work permit from your school, and get your Z-Visa. Document authentication is pricey and time-consuming, so the sooner you start saving, the better.
After that, your two main expenses will be airfare and hotel stay upon arrival. All of the teaching jobs that we offer provide some form of compensation for these expenses. In some cases, the school will pay for the airfare and hotel upfront. However, other times you will need to pay for it, and the school will reimburse you afterward. Your recruiter will be able to tell you the specific compensation provided by specific schools.
Do I need any kind of teaching certification or experience? >
At this time, all of the teaching positions we offer require either 1 year of teaching experience or an internationally recognized TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification. Candidates with experience and a teaching certification will be first in line for the higher paying positions, but it is not necessary to have both. To assist our teachers with this, we have partnered with Teacher Link, and TL offers online, in-class, and combined TEFL courses.
Do I need a university degree? >
That being said, some teaching positions either because of the scope of work or location do not require a college degree.
What are the best teaching jobs in China? >
The answer to this question really depends on what you are trying to accomplish while you are here. Are you looking for experience to help build a teaching career? Is money a big concern? Do you want as much time to travel as possible? By explaining your goals/plans to your Teaching Nomad recruiter, he/she will be able to help find the best teaching job for you.
How much will I get paid? >
Salaries and bonuses will vary greatly by region and by the type of school that you work at. Some parts of China have a considerably higher cost of living than others. On average, full-time teachers will make between 8,000-35,000 RMB per month. Keep in mind that with the cost of living in China, an amount in this range will allow you to have your own apartment, a housekeeper, and a healthy savings account! Compensation can also include free airfare, a starting bonus, a housing stipend, and a contract completion bonus.
How to write your teach abroad resume/CV >
Your resume or CV (Curriculum Vitae) will probably follow a similar outline to what is used in your home country but there are some things you can add to make it stand out from the crowd.
You probably wouldn’t have this information on a CV in your home country but work visa regulations have rules on age and nationality so you will want to add that.
Always include a photo. A passport-style “headshot” is perfect. The schools want to know what you look like, and after you’re hired, this photo will be submitted with your other documents to secure your work visa.
When listing work experience there is no need to write a paragraph about each job. A basic explanation along with some bullet points is perfect. Be sure to clearly list the dates of employment and if you really want to stand out, add the name and contact information to a reference at the company!
Does Teaching Nomad have fees? >
Teaching Nomad's services are completely free for teachers! We will help you through the entire process, whether it's interviewing with schools, looking over a contract, or ensuring your safe arrival in China. We make money by charging a fee to the schools that hire our teachers. In addition, using our services will not affect your monthly pay whatsoever; we're here to support you!
How do I get a work permit, work visa, and a residence permit? >
To legally work in China as a teacher, your school will need to assist you in obtaining a work permit and a residence permit from the Chinese government. Only legal, licensed schools can actually hire foreigners which is one of the reasons that Teaching Nomad exists. We only work with schools that are trustworthy and reliable.
Here's how the process works:
2. You send scans of the authenticated documents to your school, and they will request your work permit from the Chinese government.
3. The work permit along with an invitation letter will be sent directly to you.
4. Once you receive those, you will need to submit this paperwork along with your passport and visa application either directly to the Chinese embassy in your home country or to a visa agent like MyChinaVisa (CVSC) (the agent recommended by Teaching Nomad). There will be a fee to pay which varies by country. Within 3-7 days, you will get your passport back in the mail with a temporary Z-Visa inside. This temporary visa is good for 30 days and is designed for you to enter China.
5. Once you’re in China, your school will assist you in converting this temporary visa into a residence permit. This process could take 2-6 weeks during which you will not have your passport. We do suggest you make a copy of it before it’s out of your possession. The government also requires you to have a physical exam done. It's pretty basic and is usually completed in China. In some cases, your school may send you a medical exam form that you can use to have the exam completed in your home country.
Teaching Nomad offers free teacher placement services, but you must meet our basic requirements before we can place you.
Our minimum requirements are:
1. You must be a native English speaker
2. You must have a BA degree or above
3. You must have either 1 year of teaching experience or a 120-hour TEFL certification. (If you need a TEFL certification, Teaching Nomad also offers both in-class & online TEFL courses.)