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Travel & Teach - China


TEFL jobs in China abound, making it ideal for the newly qualified. Indeed, China is biggest English language learning market in the world and it is still growing. Demand often outstrips supply and so, if you are a native English speaker with a degree and TESOL, then you will likely have your pick of English teaching jobs in China.

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.

In an effort to attract teachers from abroad, you can often expect a housing allowance, return flights, paid holidays and medical benefits. You should certainly be able to live well by local standards and even save money.

Expect more perks and a higher salary with more experience.

Tips for teaching English in China

* Consider applying via an agency to compare jobs. Global English TESOL graduates have access to the schools and job agencies listed on our site; many offering return flights, housing allowance and competitive salary
* Our Global English TESOL Premier course is recommended as a 120 hour certificate can widen opportunities. However, there is so much demand in China that our 70 hour quick-start TESOL may suffice to get you teaching quickly in China
* Don't jump at the first job offered; do some research into the school and area

Useful Contacts

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/

Useful: http://www.eslbase.com/advice/china.asp

Schools:  http://www.eslbase.com/schools/china

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:


Jason Sheets

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.

Laura Whalen

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.

Mike Tronson
Mike Tronson

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.

Mike Tronson
British Columbia, Canada


A TESOL was essential for a legitimate school.

After my Global English TESOL I was offered a job in Changchun, China with a fabulous and highly competitive package: accommodation free and a salary enabling me to be free of money concerns here. I was able to save a considerable sum for someone my age.

Also, Changchun is less polluted than other parts of China, and so I had a comfortable life there. I had a lot of free time, so I was able to travel all around China and have amazing experiences.

Add your own comments on your experience in China

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Travel and Teach

Huge demand in China for English teachers

Teaching positions for China appear just about everywhere on the net at the moment. A degree is almost a necessity (there appear to be some provinces in rural schools where lack of a degree is not an issue but such schools are hard to find.) Demand is very high and there are millions of English language learners in China – so it is an ideal first destination.

Minimum TESOL Coure Recommended for China:

The 120 hour Global English online TESOL >> is  popular since it is accredited to a good level. 120 hours is becoming a minimum number of qualification hours for some Chinese employers.
Our 70 hour quick start TESOL may suffice since demand is high.

Pay and conditions:

Such is the demand that many contracts include some or all of the following:

* 10 month- 1 year contract
* round-trip air fare
* holiday pay/end of contract bonus
* accommodation or money towards accommodation
* 10-15,000 RMB per month
* orientation/mandarin classes/airport pick-up
* help with visa
* medical insurance 

Prospects are excellent for teachers trying to arrange work prior to travelling. While you do read 'horror stories' applying via an agency usually helps as there are plenty of schools to choose from and they can advise on location and schools, depending on your preferences.

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. 

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.

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Courses Level 1 Level 1 + Young Learners Level 1 + business Level 1 plus 1-2-1 Level 2 Level 2 + Young Learners Level 2 + business Level 2 + 1-2-1 Teaching business English Teaching English to Young Learners Teaching English 1-2-1 Grammar course Weekend face-face
Price £195.00 £295.00 £295.00 £295.00 £315.00 £395.00 £395.00 £395.00 £140.00 £140.00 £140.00 £50.00 £170-£190
Duration (hours) 70 100 100 100 150 180 180 180 30 30 30 20 20 or 28
Time limit (months) 6 6 6 6 18 18 18 18 6 6 6 6 n/a
Modules 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 2 2 2 1 n/a
Content General English General English + Young Learners General English + Business General English + 1-2-1 General English General English + Young Learners General English + Business General English + 1-2-1 Business Young Learners One to One Grammar General


Yes . ACTDEC Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes. GE Yes.20 or 28 hour
Course book provided No Yes Yes No* No Yes Yes No* Yes Yes No* No No
View live teaching excerpts Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes No No No No. n/a
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* includes 1 years subscription to materials provider 'handouts online'