Answering Your FAQ’s About Teaching in CHINA!

by Audrey on December 13, 2013 · 20 comments

Last month I wrote a little guide answering your most frequently asked questions about teaching in Korea, however, some of you had a few questions about what it would be like to teach ESL in China! Since I have no experience on that front, I got one of my blogging friends to share her wisdom with you instead.

Bennett of The Further Adventures of Bennett signed up for 6 months of teaching English in China and left 2 years later, work that one out!

Here, she answers frequently asked questions about making the move to China to teach English in order to inform and encourage others to do the same.

Rain in Yangshuo

Do I need a degree to teach in China?

The general answer is yes as in order to get a work visa in China you need to produce the certificate. I do, however, know of many people who did not have a degree who worked as English teachers in China.

What if English is not my first language?

Whilst native English speakers are the most attractive prospects in regards to satisfying Chinese parents as well as governmental demands, those with English as a second language should not be deterred. If you’ve studied in an English speaking country, this is looked upon well. However, you might have to go through a pre-interview Skype call to check your accent.

Teaching about swap shop

Do I need to have teaching experience or a TESL/TEFL certificate?

Just like the degree, this is desirable but not essential. What you need to show, especially in your interview is your willingness to learn and adapt as quickly as possible.

Should I teach at a public school or an English training school? 

The main difference is the working days. Do you want to teach Monday to Friday and have the weekends off? Then go for a public school.

Want to work mainly weekends and maybe have some adult students too? Work at an English training school. It’s your choice! 

Kindergarten class in China
Where should I start looking for a job?

There are plenty of ways to find a job online, through Dave’s ESL Café or just searching for English training schools in China. One other way to find a job is through a recruiter, such as NewLifeESL, who will place you in a school.

Will I be the only foreigner at my school? 

If it’s important to you that you aren’t the only foreigner at the school, you need to let employers know and the same vice versa. Most people are placed to their requirements, but be prepared to have something not in your expectations either!

Controversial sculpture in Zhangzhou

What will my school cover?

Every school will offer different remuneration packages: some may include return flights, contract bonuses or medical insurance. The main one I would look for, however, is rent-free living, as that takes a huge weight of your mind each month. 

What if I don’t like China – can I leave early? 

Just like any job there would be consequences (usually monetary) if you did. There are some 6 month contract opportunities out there, so if you think it might be difficult, start with one of those and if you like it, then renew it!

Dinner with adult students in China

Do I need to speak Chinese to teach in China? 

No way! I didn’t know a word of Chinese before I left and managed to absorb enough to live safe, happily and comfortably (but then again I am a language geek!) 

I want to move to China but I’m scared!

Everyone is in the same boat at some point in their life. Remember starting university for the first time? Or any new job? Everyone gets scared and it’s okay to get scared but until you push boundaries, you’re not living. 

A friend from the UK visiting me in Beijing

If you have any further questions about teaching in China you can get in touch with Bennett. She also recently wrote new eBook Add Your Brick To The Great Wall – Experience-based Advice From Expats which answers many more questions about living, teaching and travelling in the fabulous Middle Kingdom!

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 13, 2013 at 7:14 am

I think having answers for Korea and China is great for anyone looking to teach English in Asia! Thanks for having me, Audrey!
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Rika | Cubicle Throwdown December 13, 2013 at 7:14 pm

This is fantastic! I never thought about China for teaching English, for some reason I only ever see Taiwan, Japan and Korea. Interesting, thanks!
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 13, 2013 at 11:12 pm

Thanks for the comment, Rika! China is another great place to spend time teaching English, I promise!
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Sam December 14, 2013 at 6:26 pm

I heard that recently China has changed the list of citizens it will grant working visas to for the purposes of teaching English and that now if you have a South African passport and are a native English speaker, China no longer considers you one; this seems a little crazy! Is it true?
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 15, 2013 at 2:35 am

Hi Sam, I’m not sure about that actually, as I had a lot of South African colleagues when I was in China… doesn’t mean they haven’t changed it though as just before I left there were some changes in a few of the visas, and Chinese bureaucracy can be very contrary. Recruiters would know more info that myself – sorry I can’t be more helpful!
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Agness December 16, 2013 at 5:35 am

great post Sarah!! :) Great to see you here!
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 17, 2013 at 12:16 am

Thanks, Agness! :)
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Silk Collar December 17, 2013 at 7:19 am

Thanks Bennett for sharing your answers! We have similar FAQs on our blog but yours just complements it:) Guys, don’t be afraid of China, China wants you! Jobs await at http://www.silkcollar.com.

Cheers,
SC
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Thanks Silk Collar! I know I can always return to China if I wish :)

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Gail December 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

This looks like a fantastic experience and it is something that seems so daunting and scary so these FAQ answers are great and i think this will give a lot of people the push they need to take the leap and go for it.

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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 20, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Thanks Gail – everything we do which is awesome in life usually starts as daunting and scary, so why not make a jump for it!
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Beth December 19, 2013 at 5:19 pm

I’m not sure I would want to teach in Mainland China… but Hong Kong has been a nice middle-ground!
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett December 20, 2013 at 8:05 pm

Hi Beth – I’ve never actually been to HK, would you believe?! Just the airport :) I’m sure it’s just as great teaching there as in China itself.
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Raul (@ilivetotravel) December 23, 2013 at 11:49 pm

Great insights! Doing something like this for 6 months is a great way to experience a culture.
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett January 14, 2014 at 4:36 am

I can definitely vouch for that Raul!
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Reima @ Love A Traveler January 10, 2014 at 12:47 am

Perfect! Just what I needed! I started learning Mandarin mid-2013 and have been wanting to go to China, especially spending more time there and teaching English. Thank you!
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Bennett - The Further Adventures of Bennett January 14, 2014 at 4:37 am

Glad to hear that you’re learning Mandarin and really keen to go to China, Reima! Teaching English there would be a great move :)
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Jenny Scott January 16, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I’d also add be careful of scam recruiters! In fact, the majority of agents in China are either illegal or dishonest. There are just 329 registered with the Ministry of Education but thousands who aren’t!

Here’s a useful article about this problem: http://goo.gl/FzfLpC if you’re thinking of using an agent to find you work in China.

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Nina January 18, 2014 at 11:12 am

This is great! I have been thinking of teaching else where. I have been living and teaching in Thailand!
I just did a FAQ about teaching Thailand.

http://whereintheworldisnina.com/common-questions-i-get-asked/
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William May 3, 2014 at 4:05 am

Love how receptive you are to experience new things! I also went on a gap year to south east Asia where I taught in Thailand, Cambodia and Burma and it opened my eyes wider than I thought possible. I 100% recommend it, especially when you’re young and have nothing to lose. Great writing too.

Cheers,
William.
Publisher of NomadHead – Your Guide to Gap Year Travel
bit.ly/NomadHead

PS that amazing statue of the two entwined students sums up just how crazy Asia can be! At one point on my travels I was posing with some locals within a giant sunflower. Just unreal!

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