Looking to teach abroad? We share the ultimate guide to teaching English in China, so you can plan your future teaching abroad.
China’s vastness is only surpassed by its unique landscapes and travelers are lining up to see a glimpse of this exciting country. Ancient culture, exotic cuisine, unique nature, and megacities await you in China but what is the best way to experience this wealth of heritage?
Teaching English in China will allow you to immerse yourself in a foreign culture while making money and gaining valuable work experience. China also has boundless teaching opportunities, no matter your qualifications or interests.
Here is a comprehensive guide to teaching English in China to help you establish if this is the best career move for you.
Why teach in China?
There are plenty of reasons for people to choose a job teaching English abroad but why choose China to teach English?
Firstly, the country is a unique and exciting place to live in and explore. It is vastly different from life in the west and, after living here for two years, we can say it was one of the most fascinating experiences of our lives.
As a HUGE country, there are plenty of job opportunities in China too and salaries are competitive, especially if you choose to work in a smaller city. Cost of living in China is lower than in other destinations and you have plenty of travel opportunities in Asia.
There are so many amazing places to visit in China, so you will always have somewhere to explore during your time off and there are plenty of national holidays in the country too.
Jobs Available in China
In China, English is being promoted amongst all age groups and there are jobs from kindergarten straight through to adult classes.
Teaching jobs are at public schools, international schools, private schools, and training centers and can be located in rural towns or megacities.
You can apply directly to the schools or make use of a trusted recruiter to help with job placement. TEFL certification programs also offer assistance in this department including The TEFL Org: teach English in China. Familiarize yourself with each to find the best fit.
Public schools most commonly hire teachers to assist with oral English classes. Students learn English from a primary Chinese teacher and foreign teachers visit schools a couple of times per week to work on pronunciation and speaking skills.
Class sizes are between 30 and 50 students but this can be a great learning opportunity to gain teaching experience. Your schedule is during school hours, Monday to Friday from 8 am to 4 pm.
Qualified teachers with experience gravitate towards higher-paying jobs at international schools in China. Here you work with smaller class sizes and students study all subjects in English.
The benefits at international schools are much better but it is more difficult to land one of these coveted jobs. These schools don’t only cater to Chinese students and also have many foreign students that live in China.
Private schools are an intermediary between public and international schools. They often follow an international curriculum but students don’t study exclusively in English.
Foreign teachers are brought in to teach the English subject and teachers with no experience are welcome to apply.
Training centers cater to all age groups and operate after school and on weekends. These centers offer beginner classes for kindergarten up to classes for business English.
Students can study for language exams like IELTS or SAT at training centers or study basic English. These centers offer a more flexible schedule and smaller classroom sizes.
Qualifications Needed to Teach English in China
There are a few basic qualifications needed to apply to teach in China. A passport from either the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, or South Africa is a bonus but being a qualified teacher in your home country with proof of sufficient English proficiency is adequate.
You will need a Bachelor’s degree that is authenticated and you will most likely need to take a TEFL course to teach English. It is required that you are under the age of 55 and have a clean criminal record.
Salary for Teaching English in China
Salaries for teaching in China are based on your location, qualification, and the type of school you work at. International schools famously pay more than public school jobs and you will also make more if you work in Beijing and Shanghai to compensate for the high cost of living.
ESL jobs in the bigger cities pay between £1200 ($1600) and £1700 ($2300). Other cities like Hangzhou and Suzhou offer salaries of around £900 ($1200) to £1400 ($1900).
The higher end of the job scale begins at around £2000 ($2700) for teachers who work in specialized fields, as college counselors, or advanced speaking couches. International school teachers make the most money with salaries ranging from £2200 ($3000) to £3500 ($4800).
Part-time teachers are paid hourly and make an average of £35 ($48) per hour. Non-native speakers make an average of £25 ($35) per hour for part-time work.
Benefits of Teaching English in China
English teaching jobs in China come with a notorious list of benefits that is unlike anything you can imagine as a teacher in your home country.
Teachers receive stipends for accommodation or receive housing from the school. This already helps you save on most of your living expenses as Beijing and Shanghai have some of the most expensive housing markets in the world.
Teachers are also offered free health insurance and your flights are usually reimbursed by the school.You will get one flight at the beginning and one at the end of your contract.
Depending on your contract, your school may cover your visa fees. This includes the medical check, document authentication, and visa service fee.
Where to teach English in China
Hangzhou is one of the most popular places to teach in China. It is a mere hour outside of Shanghai but the city has an extraordinary mix of old and new. The city has plenty of calming green spaces and the nature surrounding the city is breathtaking.
Shanghai is another popular city for English teachers. It is trendy and has an increasingly cosmopolitan mindset, which means plenty of English teaching jobs on the horizon.
Shenzhen is only a short ferry ride from Hong Kong and it is a desirable city if you want to shy away from the colder regions of China. Even winters are pleasant and warm in Shenzhen and you get to experience the fast pace of life as found in other major cities in China.
Some teachers choose their teaching location based on the cultural aspects they want to immerse themselves in. Chengdu in the Sichuan province is best known for its foodie scene (and pandas!) and Guilin is perfect if you want to escape to the outdoors frequently. Nanjing is another cultural hub in China with profound historical significance.