FAQs About Teaching English In China

FAQs About Teaching English In China 2017-02-09T16:09:14+00:00

I have taught English in several countries around the world and regularly shared content about my teaching experiences, offering advice for other people who also wish to teach English. After teaching full time in South Korea and spending 18 months in the country (over two separate living situations), I began applying to teach English in China. I did this because I wanted to try living somewhere new, jobs in China are plentiful, my friends who taught in China enjoyed the experience, and I wanted to be able to legally live with my American partner who was going to teach English in China with me. One thing led to another, and we ended up not going to China – in part because we didn’t have TEFL qualifications – but I spent a lot of time researching the topic and have since started working with a school and a recruiter to offer readers the opportunity to teach English in China. As such, I have put together this FAQs about teaching English in South Korea, along with other content on GBSW to help potential teachers find out more information.

The following answers to questions are based upon my knowledge and research. When I don’t know an answer to a questions, I will often refer back to the people I work with in China (who know lots about the process of teaching there, obviously) and update this page accordingly. If you have a question about teaching English in China that is not on this page, please post it in the comments so that the answer is publicly visible. Please note that the rules in China vary between provinces and can change regularly, so I will do my best to keep this as up to date as possible, but I might be a little bit behind at times.

What Are The Minimum Requirements To Teach English in China?

As China is very big and rules change quickly, these requirements may vary, but in general you need to satisfy the following criteria in order to teach English in China:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (Or Equivalent)
  • Clean Criminal Background Check
  • Commitment to a 12 Month Contract
  • Citizen of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.
  • A TEFL Certification (varies between jobs – see below)

Occasionally high level, subject specific jobs are available for non-natives, but for the best chances of getting a job teaching English in China, having all of the above is desirable. If you are not eligible to teach in China, there are many other countries where you might be able to teach English. Please take a look at my ever growing page of English teacher jobs to see if there is anything available to you.

Another way to boost your job prospects is to get experience teaching which you can do through volunteering.

Do I Need a CELTA / TEFL / TESOL / Teaching Certificate to Teach English in China?

In general, yes you do need some form of teaching qualification, however this varies over time and between areas. Either way, if you do obtain a TEFL certification (120+ hour courses are the basic standard accepted across the board) you will definitely increase your job prospects and hopefully become a better teacher. Please take a look at the infographic I made and at my page about choosing which teaching qualification (if any) you should do.

Why Did You Apply To Teach English In China?

There are a huge number of benefits of teaching English in China, but at the time I was considering it, I applied to teach in China for the following reasons:

  • Good pay compared to the cost of living.
  • Opportunity to live in a new part of the world.
  • Both myself and my American partner would be allowed to legally work and live there, together.

How Can I Get a Job Teaching English In China?

You can easily apply online to jobs in China. There are two main options:

  • Apply through an agency. If you wish to apply through an agency, you can apply through my partner agency here or find your own using search engines. I trust my partner agency and their recruitment process, hence why I recommend them. There are many good and bad agencies out there, so keep your wits about you and use common sense when applying through agencies.
  • Apply directly to the school. I have partnered with English First (a large chain that recruits over 1,000 teachers a year) as I once went through the job application process with them and found it to be highly positive. You can read more about their job offers and apply to their school here, or find other schools to apply to on TEFL job forums. You will find adverts on many TEFL sites across the internet which you can locate with a quick search, but I used to find ESLCafe and TEFL.com quite useful.

Is It Better To Apply Directly To A School Or Through A Job Agency?

Both have their positives and negatives. As I see it, applying direct gives you the opportunity to speak to the school and discuss things which is great if you can communicate easily, but very difficult if they have bad levels of English (as English teaching might only be one aspect of their school). It also allows you to pick and choose the jobs you apply to, but can be very time consuming as you have to approach schools individually. Applying through an agency saves a lot of the hard work as they will attempt to match you to a school that fits your needs. They might not get it perfect, but they will make the process easier.

When I apply to teach English, I used both methods and then looked at the job offers that came to me to see which was most suitable.

What Are The Benefits Of Teaching English In China?

Money, cultural diversity, and the ability to travel the world whilst becoming involved in a new culture are just for starters. As the benefits are so numerous, I have a whole article dedicated to the topic that you can read, titled 10 Benefits Of Teaching English in China.

How Much Should I Hope to Get Paid Teaching English In China?

Salaries change all the time, but at the time of writing you can hope for 12,000-15,400 RMB per month, based upon qualifications. In addition to this, you normally get a flight allowance, paid holiday, and a sponsored Z visa (which means you can legally work in the country).

Is There An Agency That You Would Recommend For Applying To Teach English In China?

Yes, you can apply here. I trust them and value my recommendations. If you ever have any problems with them, please let me know.

Is There A School That You Would Recommend For Applying To Teach English In China?

Yes, English First. They recruit over 1,000 teachers a year and have great benefits such as free Chinese lessons and help obtaining qualifications. You can read more about the benefits of applying with them here, as well as make an application.

Do I Need To Speak Chinese To Teach English In China?

No. However, it will help with your day to day life and when trying to interact with locals, especially as a lot of the population do not speak English. For language learning advice, read this page.

How Do I Avoid Being Scammed by a School / Know That it is Reputable?

Search through forums online and see what other people say about it. Also ask if you can have the email addresses of previous teachers so that you can email them and ask about the school. If you can’t find any information online, it may be a dodgy deal. If it’s a chain, it will have a reputation to keep up and is more likely to be reputable.

How Much Money Can You Save In China As An English Teacher?

This completely depends on how you live your life. It is possible to have a high quality of life due to the fact that your wages will go quite far compared to the low cost of living, but if you like to go party every night, you can blow right through it. For more information on this and to compare your saving / earning potential in China to other countries, please see my .pdf detailing pay for English teachers across the world and how much they can save.

Will The School Pay For My Airfare?

You will normally get an allowance for your airfare, so it depends on how much your airfare is.

Are There Many Other Foreign Teachers In China?

Thousands. If you are in a big school or big city, you will be able to find many other foreign teachers around, but if you go to a smaller place, there will obviously be less. When applying to jobs, ask the recruiter / school specifically about the location that you are applying to.

I’m A Non-Native Speaker: Can I Get A Job Teaching English In China?

Not really, although some teachers who are non-natives English speakers can teach their specialist subject (if they have one). The rules change constantly and they vary between provinces, but the easiest way for me to answer this question is to say ‘no’. However, there are many other places in the world where you can teach English.

Can I Get a Job Teaching English in China Without a Degree?

In short, no, as it is a requirement of the Z visa. Occasional exceptions crop up here and there, but these are few and far between.

Will My Job Be Safe?

Do research about your company online. If you do this properly, you can find a safe company. Most people keep their jobs for the duration of their contracts, but as with everything in life, nothing is definite, and even big schools can go under sometimes. Just do your best and be prepared to adapt.

As I’m Only Signing a 12-Month Contract, Will I lose My Job in One Year?

If business is going well, they will (hopefully) offer you a new contract. However, a lot of people choose to change schools every year for better working conditions or for variety. Being offered a twelve month teaching contract in China isn’t really a concern, it’s just normal practice.

Should I Get A Job In Advance Or Just Turn Up In China And Find One?

You need to be out of the country to get the visa, so you could turn up, find work, then leave the country (even for an hour) to get the visa. In my experience it is way easier and reduces the risk to apply online and get a job before you go. If you end up going to China and not finding work, you will still have to pay all of your expenses.

Can I Choose Which Currency I Get Paid In?

You are paid in local Chinese currency, RMB, direct to your Chinese bank account which your school should help you to set up. To transfer it out of the country, you simply go to the bank and pay the transfer fee.

Can you get me a job teaching English in China?

Kind of – apply here. If you get a job, you’re welcome.

Should I Go To China To Teach?

Only you can decide.

Can You Get Me A Job Teaching Anywhere Else?

Possibly – Take a look at this page, Apply For a Job As An English Teacher.


I hope that this page has been of some use to you. If you feel that any of the above information is inaccurate or that there is something missing, please comment below. I am only one person who and I have done my best to answer the questions to the best of my abilities using a combination of experience based knowledge and research. Below are some more pages that might be useful to you: