English Education in China
More than 200 million Chinese people have some level of language knowledge. Over 50 million students in China study English every year. Despite this, only about 10 million Chinese can converse in English. There are a few reasons why people study English in China:
- Education. Any student who wants to get into a good university needs to study English from an early age.
- Work. Top employers look at English language test scores when they hire people.
- Travel. As a global language, knowing how to communicate in English makes travelling easier.
- Business. English is the language of global trade. Many Chinese people study English to work with business partners around the world.
English language ability is an important component of China's national testing strategy. Students with high marks on written English exams can get into better schools.
Benefits of Teaching in China
Teaching English overseas is a rewarding experience. Although China is one of the world's oldest civilizations it is changing fast. Living and working here will give you a new perspective on the middle kingdom.
Employers offer various benefits to help you make the transition to teaching abroad.
China is a big country. There are many kinds of positions available in various parts of China. Salaries vary depending on the location, your experience, qualifications, and hours worked.
Salaries are increasing fast, and there are lots of jobs available. The demand for qualified teachers in China market currently exceeds supply.
These numbers show the kinds of total compensation packages you can expect:
- Training Center - 15,000 to 25,000 RMB per month.
- Public School - 10,000 to 20,000 RMB per month .
- International School - 20,000 to 30,000 RMB per month
When negotiating for or evaluating an offer be sure to ask about other benefits. These types of support vary by the employer and are negotiable.
Many employers provide housing support in one of the following two ways:
- A monthly cash stipend for housing.
- An apartment owned by the school.
To rent an apartment in China you will need to pay several months in advance as a deposit. You will need someone who speaks Chinese to help you negotiate the rental agreement. Employers should also help you to navigate the rental market. Be sure to ask what employers will do to help you rent and pay the deposit on housing.
Employers may own apartments which they provide to teachers. You should ask to see pictures, ask about the location and proximity to the school or other teachers. These apartments may include shared or single occupancy options. You should ask whether the apartment is on campus, or in a residential zone. Find out if there are curfews or any other rules relating to housing.
Once in China you will need help with all the day to day aspects of life. For example internet, gas, electricity, water, and dealing with any problems that arise. Ask current teachers about the living conditions and support that your employer provides.
Applying for a work visa is a costly and time-consuming process. Many employers will offer some support for this. Employers may cover your costs in China. You will be responsible for paying any costs in your home country.
It is normal for employers to offer airfare reimbursement. You should ask for details about how this works. Some employers offer full airfare up front or reimbursement after a period of time. Others offer a set amount paid as a relocation bonus with your first payment.
Employers may offer other benefits or incentives to attract candidates. Here's a partial list of the kinds of things they may offer:
- Signing bonus.
- Relocation support.
- Contract completion bonus.
- Commission for signing up students during demo classes.
Be sure to ask your employer whether they are offering any of the above. Get any commitments in writing and ask other teachers about their experiences.
The State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) sets rules for hiring teachers:
"Teachers of foreign languages generally shall be engaged in the teaching of their native languages and shall have a bachelor's degree or higher degree and language teaching experience of at least two years.
Those who have had degrees in the field of education, language or teaching, or have acquired a qualification certificate of teaching at their own countries or a recognized international certificate of language teaching shall be exempted from the restriction on work experience."
This policy means anyone who wants to teach English in China must:
- Be a native English speaker.
- This is currently determined by the immigration official who reviews your application. They will base their decision on whether you are from an English speaking country.
- Have a bachelor's degree or higher.
- Have at least one of the following:
- Two years of experience teaching the language.
- A degree in the field of education, language, or teaching.
- A teaching qualification certificate from your home country.
- A recognized teaching certificate of language teaching such as TEFL or CELTA.
Teaching in China without a degree is illegal. You must have obtained a bachelor's degree or higher in any subject to be eligible for a work permit as a teacher in China.
TEFL certification courses take about three weeks, both online and in class. You will need to have at least a 100 hour certificate. In class certificates are superior to online certificates.
English Speaking Countries
Chinese immigration policy currently states that language teachers can only teach their native langauge. Immigration officials determine this based on which passport you hold. The following countries are the main native English speaking countries, some schools and recruiters will only hire teachers holding passports from these countries:
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United Kingdom
- United States
If your passport is not from one of the listed countries it can be difficult to find a job as an English teacher in China. You will need to have strong evidence that you are a native English speaker.
How to Find a Job
The market for language instructors in China keeps growing. New rules and stricter enforcement have also made hiring more difficult. This means that if you are persistent you should be able to find a job tailored to your specific needs.
Here are some things to think about ahead of time:
- What city would you like to work in?
- What is your expected salary range?
- What type of school would you like to work in?
- When will you be available to start?
Once you have decided on the type of job you want to find, it is time to prepare your documents. You will need to have the following documents authenticated by the Chinese embassy. This can be a time consuming process, and starting early is a good idea.
- Police Check.
- TEFL Certificate.
In the USA, the Chinese embassy's website describes this process:
For other countries, the China Visa Application Service Center's website describes this process:
Your resume is the the first point of contact for evaluating whether you are suitable for a position. Your resume should use a clean, simple and easy to read format and have the following sections:
- Summary - One or two sentences describing yourself and the kind of position you want. Note any specific qualifications or skills in this section as well.
- Education - List your degrees and certificates, subject areas, institutions, and years attended.
- Experience - Your resume should cover a list of your activities with no gaps, from the age of 18. Include start and end dates, employer names, positions, and a description. Include any periods of self employment or travel.
Most employers also want to see a video introduction. It should show your personality and teaching style. A good video is about three minutes, and explains who you are, your experience, and why you want to work in China.
Here are a few tips for creating your video:
- Write down what you want to say ahead of time.
- Check the background and lighting of your video.
- Make sure your eyes are visible (watch out for reflections if you wear glasses).
- Place your camera at eye level.
- Record the video in landscape mode.
- Record the video a couple of times and choose the best one.
Once you have prepared your video and resume, you will be ready to start applying for jobs.
There are a couple of main ways that you can find a job in China. You can apply to individual schools, or you can work with a recruiter. You should use a combination of both methods to compare offers.
- Most employers in China will want to talk to you via WeChat. You can download WeChat here.
Apply Directly to Schools
If you know which city (or cities) you would like to work in and have some contacts on the ground, this is a good option. Look around for schools in your target city, find their websites and apply online.
You should always ask to speak with a teacher who works there, so you can find out what the work environment is like
We help teachers to find jobs at reputable schools in Chongqing, China. To work in this beautiful and historic city, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will help you find a position that is a great fit for your skills and qualifications.
Find recruiters who work in other parts of China on Facebook or by replying to ads. Look for reputable recruiters who have real websites and verifiable contact information.
Unfortunately while there are many great recruiters, some are not so ethical. Some of the things you should consider if you are thinking about working with a recruiter or school:
- Do they have a website with clear information about the company they work for?
- Is their email address linked to a real website? Be careful of recruiters who use @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, @163.com, or other anonymous email accounts. There's a good chance they aren't working for a real company.
- Check this by typing the part of their email address after the @ symbol into a browser. For example, if the address is (email@example.com), visitwww.cometocq.com and see if it is a real website.
- Do they tell you to ignore the SAFEA policy or other Chinese government rules?
- Do they tell you to come to China with any kind of visa except a Z Visa? You cannot work for a Chinese company on a Business, Tourist, or student visa.
- They should be willing to answer your questions in writing, either by email or via WeChat. Avoid recruiters who rely on voice communication to tell you important things.
- A recruiter or school should not pressure you into accepting a job or use other pressure tactics. There are many jobs available and few candidates. An employer who doesn't treat candidates well won't treat their employees well either.
When negotiating with an employer it's important to understand how much you are worth. Understanding the range of salaries and basic questions to ask. Try to arrange a few interviews with different employers. This will give you a better idea about the kinds of offers you expect for your specific situation.
Don't feel pressured into accepting a job or worry about time limits on the offer. There are plenty of good schools in China who are ready to hire qualified teachers.
If you decide to teach English in China, it will be a rewarding experience. This article has talked about some of the benefits as well as some of the things to watch out for when finding a job in China. If you have any questions or would like to talk with us about the kinds of options we have available, you can use our application form to submit your information, send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with us on Facebook.