Travel & Teach - China
TEFL jobs in China abound for those who are well qualified. Indeed, China is biggest English language learning market in the world and it is still growing! China is Asia’s second largest country (after Russia) and, with 1 in 5 inhabitants, the most populous country in the world. After the end of the Cultural Revolution and the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, the country has evolved quite dramatically. The doors of this centrally run state have been gradually opening to outside influences and a degree of commercialism has taken hold. Since the Chinese take over of Hong Kong in 1997 China is in the interesting position of a country running 2 different political systems – democracy for Hong Kong and central control for the rest of the country.
So there has never been a better time to experience China, a country where TESOL opportunities exist in abundance. This makes it an excellent place to earn money and gain invaluable experience within the fascinating framework of a unique culture. School students learn English as part of the curriculum and are generally thought to be very friendly and welcoming to foreigners although you may have to moderate your more adventurous lesson plans. You may still find that politics and religion are not to be discussed in class and you will need to be prepared for large student numbers, perhaps accompanied by less than adequate resources. The good news is that Chinese students are hardworking and teaching them is a rewarding experience. You can expect to be greeted by friendly curiosity from the locals outside of the school environment, hopefully leading to positive exchanges and friendship. Although the system is very bureaucratic, by working within state guidelines you should certainly be able to live well by local standards and you can obtain paid holidays, cheap travel and free medical care. Expect more perks if you have higher qualifications, such as the Global English Level 1 TESOL with business.
Global English is well known in China and has worked in conjunction with Wall Street Institute in Beijing and Shanghai in teacher placement and career development.
British Council http://www.britishcouncil.org/
British Council in China: http://www.britishcouncil.org/china.htm
Chinese Embassy UK: http://china.embassyhomepage.com/
Chinese Embassy USA: http://www.china-embassy.org/
Chinese National Tourist Office: http://www.cnto.org/
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Global English students are working all over the world with their accredited TESOL certificates. Find out
how TESOL training from Global English has made a difference to their lives:
You can usually get higher salaries if you show up here and then look for a job. In all of China, the salary figure of Y2500-4000 is accurate, but in Beijing and Shanghai the salaries are much higher. The average is probably Y10,000 a month. You can earn even more money doing part-time work, with hourly wages ranging from Y100-200 an hour and part-time work is very easy to come by. Jobs are advertised in the local English magazines in the big cities.
It is extremely easy to get a visa after arriving in China. You can come to China on a tourist visa, and then change after finding a job. Sometimes, people might need to travel to Hong Kong to get the visa, but that is simple too and takes a day at the most. So visas are no problem.
However, contracts aren't worth the paper they are written on. The school will try to cheat the teacher, so it's better for the teacher to not put too much faith in the contract. The legal system just isn't that developed. Don't work for Universities or public schools as they pay almost nothing and the conditions are deplorable. Private schools are the way to go.
I taught English in China for 4 years (Sept. 99- Sept. 03) and had an amazing time. When I think of my experience, I remember streets filled with bicycles, living amongst a population of over 1.2 billion people, students very eager to learn English and meet a “foreigner,” an endless variety of wonderful Chinese food, eating with chopsticks, frequent Karaoke parties, road signs in Chinese characters, learning to bargain in the markets, a very noticeable growing economy, a country changing with foreign influence, constantly being welcomed into someone’s home for a meal, being taught how to make dumplings, learning about the local holidays and customs, always being helped because I was a “foreign guest,” how time revealed the differences and similarities in culture, fun with Chinese/English language barriers, great travel opportunities, and meeting wonderful people.
I was an International Relations and Chinese Studies major during college, and as part of my studies I spent about 8 months living in Beijing. When I graduated I decided to go back and teach in China. With help from an American University, I was placed in the International Division of a combined middle school and high school in Shanghai. I stayed there for one year teaching English literature and Beginner/Intermediate ESL for grades 4-6 and 7-9. After that year I decided to move to Beijing. Relying on contacts from my original placement, I found a part time job at a middle school teaching Intermediate ESL for grades 4-6. Once in Beijing, through talking with other teachers and reading the local expat magazines it was easy to find out about different schools and teaching opportunities in the city. A friend told me about the Wall Street Institute and I applied and worked there for the rest of my time in China. At WSI I taught Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced ESL classes for adults.
In general, I think there are many opportunities to teach in China. Therefore, teachers usually can choose if they want to be in the city or country, if they want to be teaching children or adults, and if they want to be in the school system or with language centres. Some teachers even create their own schedules through part time jobs and private
tutoring. Some things to keep in mind:
1. You must have a BA. All schools will ask for a copy of your diploma or proof that you have graduated from college.
2. I strongly recommend getting a TESOL certificate. It is becoming more necessary to have one and it may help secure a higher salary. More importantly, it is very practical because it will help you teach more effectively and handle the variety of questions the students will ask.
3. Salaries will vary from school to school and each school will have different benefits. For example, some will provide roundtrip airfare from your home country if you stay for 1 year.
4. Because there are different laws and regulations for living and working in China, your school should help you with the VISA requirements, housing options, necessary paperwork, and registration procedures.
5. Living and teaching in the main cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Shenzhen is very different than being in the countryside. The cities have received a lot of foreign influence and are more internationalized than the countryside. Therefore, your living conditions, food options, activities, school resources, etc. can greatly vary depending on your location.
6. Each school has its own setup for the English classes. Some schools have the foreign teacher team-teach with a local Chinese teacher. In this case the foreign teacher practices pronunciation and conversation while the Chinese teacher focuses on grammar, reading, and writing. In this setup the foreign teacher will probably spend shorter amounts of time (maybe just once a week) with the same students. On the other hand, some schools put the foreign teacher in charge of all components and he/she is the sole teacher of the class and meets everyday.
I truly enjoyed my experiences in China. Now I am back in the U.S. continuing to pursue my interests and teaching ESL to adults in Pennsylvania. The combination of my experience in China and my certificate through Global English definitely helped me get my current ESL job.
I have enjoyed teaching abroad, as well as in my home country. I may go abroad to teach again in the future, but I'm not sure yet.
As my daughter completes her university studies it marks a turning point in my life for us both. She is well established and I am free now to move into a career in teaching.
The opportunities for a TESOL teacher are plentiful and widely varied. I worked for two years in Korea for a private academy and while I enjoyed the job it was less than satisfying simply because it was mostly a business with economic goals. The approach seemed to be to achieve high TESOL test scores and little concern was paid to the acquisition of language skills. There are schools that are all about producing graduates who are fluent in English and ,therefore, equipped to compete in the English speaking world. It is my desire to be a part of such efforts and to do so I must acquire the teaching methodologies required to contribute.
I started my TESOL studies through Global English late last year and have completed Level Two. At first it was difficult and seem like I was expected to already know enough to create a lesson plan. Looking back it was the task of doing what I didn't know that taught me what I need to know to teach well. I'm very pleased with my TESOL course and plan to complete Level Three by the end of winter.
I've accepted a job in eastern China with a large private school covering K through 12 studies. The young students study ESL and the seniors study in English using Canadian curriculum. It is a very good position that fits who I am and will lead where I want to go. Being certified in TESOL has allowed me to find employment that has rewards beyond a pay cheque. My thanks to Global for making this possible and for providing a quality course of study.
British Columbia, Canada
Travel and Teach
Teaching positions for China appear just about everywhere at the moment, but most commonly on the Internet. Jobs sometimes still appear in the TES (Times Educational Supplement) on Fridays and the Guardian EFL pages on Tuesdays. If you have a degree then your job prospects are significantly enhanced, but demand is high and even without a degree most native English speakers should still be able to find work. There are literally millions of English language learners in China – so it is an ideal first destination for you. Nevertheless we would recommend at the very least you take a Global English Level 1 TESOL before you go.
There are two types of teacher in China, a ‘Foreign Teacher’ (F.T.) or ‘Foreign Expert’ (F.E.). The latter are likely to have at least a Masters Degree and will get extra benefits including higher salaries and return airfares. However, demand has grown so much that increasingly we are seeing many F.T. positions coming with flights and transfers, although it is a big country and journeys can be arduous. If you hold a B.A. or B.Sc. degree then it is possible to teach from primary to university level.
Most contracts are for one year and are fairly standard throughout the country, unless you are arranging things privately outside the state system. Prospects are good for teachers trying to arrange work prior to travelling. However if you arrive in China without a prearranged contract don’t worry as it appears that many of the larger organisations are unable to fill the number of positions they advertise. One such organisation contacted us recently requesting over 1000 teachers.
If you are well organised and are able to secure a position and sign a contract before your departure for China, you may be able to obtain a long-term work visa from the appropriate Chinese Embassy or Consulate (details in Useful Contacts). You will also require a medical certificate to secure this. However most people enter China on a tourist visa and rely on the work institute to arrange the necessary permits. Most foreigners who are working as teachers are given a document (sometimes referred to as a Foreign Experts card), that provides discounts at hotels and tourist attractions. The idea is that as a worker you will then pay the same price as the Chinese and not the inflated prices charged to tourists. Conservative dress for interviews and teaching is recommended. You might find the guide to writing your CV on our site quite helpful here.
One-year contracts are the norm and you will find that most schools also provide adequate health insurance and cover up to 80% of the cost. Accommodation is generally provided although conditions vary greatly. It is worth trying to negotiate for a better place if you think the rooms being offered are substandard.
Pay for F.T’s is around Y2500 – Y4000 per month so at the lowest level you will be earning around £165 p/m. ‘Foreign Experts’ can expect to double this at least. This may not seem like much but remember that the cost of living is very low in China and this salary will qualify you as one of the higher earners. Salaries are rising as demand grows, however, so today you may be able to live much more comfortably than even 2 or 3 years ago. In the cities such as Beijing and Shanghai you can earn Y10,000 per month. A Foreign Teacher can expect to benefit from 3 to 4 weeks of paid holiday each year. Although the teaching week may seem short (16 hours of teacher contact) beware; large classes, additional marking and other responsibilities (such as delivering lectures on life in the West) may also be expected.