Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ’s
One fantastic teaching destination, a nearly infinite array of questions. We hear you, loud and clear. Whilst we obviously can’t go into a lot of details on this page, given the at-times colossal differences between teachers, schools and particular set of circumstances, we can shed a bright light on the most frequently asked questions.
So here we are: the most pivotal questions answered on why you might want to teach English in China.
- Why does China NEED ESL teachers?
The country has been going through a significant evolution in every sense: financially, socially and culturally. Since it first opened its doors to the rest of the world conclusively, over half a century ago, China’s desire to connect and compete on a global scale has seen it turn into the strongest and one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. The ability to communicate in English, the only true international language today, is absolutely vital for many Chinese, especially in larger cities.
Whilst you’ll find the language skills in China to be better than you may imagine, especially in places like Shanghai, Beijing and Shenzhen, the percentage rate of English speakers throughout the total population (just under 10%) is still relatively low when compared with many other non-English speaking nations. To put it bluntly: the Chinese population is arguably one of the least-fluent in English yet, given their country’s economic standing, is probably the one that needs it most.
China is hungry for TEFL native-speakers which puts the ball very much in the teacher’s court.
- Why would I WANT to teach English in China?
This ‘upper hand’ translates into enviable financial benefits, making China one of the most profitable teaching destinations in the world. Given that demand for ESL teachers far outweighs supply, foreign teachers are held in very high regard in China: they are valued, coveted and impressively remunerated. Compounded by low living costs, this leads foreign teachers (and foreign expat professionals, in general) to enjoy a fantastic standard of living.
Aside from this very enticing aspect, teaching English in China offers the unrivalled chance for complete cultural immersion. Culture vultures cherish the chance to dive headfirst into the Chinese way of life, navigating the nuanced and not-so-subtle differences that sets this incredibly ancient culture apart from the rest of the world. Teach English here and you can learn Mandarin, open your eyes to a brand-new culture (and all that comes with that), greatly enhancing your own personal growth.
Needless to say, a stint teaching abroad also just looks damn impressive on your CV, let’s be honest, the experience offering an unparalleled chance for professional growth. Comparing your teaching skills with your colleagues, who’ll hail from every corner of the globe, will perfect your art and see you own teaching methods rise to world-class standards. As with any position, you’ll get out as much as you’re willing to put into your teaching job in China.
The opportunity for extensive travel is also a huge reason as to why you may want to teach in China. Not only because you will be in the heart of Asia but also because you will be in the financial position to really indulge. Weekends away, long extended vacations in summer and plenty of national holidays to hop on a bus, bullet-train or plane and head somewhere new.
- What’s life like as an expat, in China?
Exciting, infuriating, challenging and enticing: these are about the best ways to describe the life of an expat in this crazy, chaotic and enchanting place. Some things you will love (the local’s obsession with eating ALL the time, so being constantly surrounded by amazing food options) whilst others (the morning ritual of clearing one’s throat) perhaps a little less. But they’re all part and parcel of life here, of the local essence and, unlike many other ‘expat’ hubs (like the UAE), you can’t bubble yourself out of it. This spells GREAT news for those who are culturally curious: you can’t move here and replicate the life you had at home but you can create a glorious and not-a-little bizarre hybrid-version of it, one filled with local and international friends, foods and activities. Most expats who choose a teaching experience in China will never regret the decision and will attest to the standard of life here being immensely addictive.
- Are the requirements for teachers very extensive and strict?
Teaching requirements are quite varied and all depend on where the school is located. Big metropolis like Shanghai will demand higher standards of education and teaching experience whilst smaller schools in a more remote location may not even insist on teachers being from English-speaking countries if they are desperate for a teacher: as long as you’re fluent, they want you. You’re always welcome to apply for any job, moreover, because demand plays a big hand in driving the requirements, up or down as the case may be. Generally speaking, you’ll need to be fluent and not have a strong accent, have a clear medical and criminal record, hold a Bachelor’s Degree and TEFL certification with a certain number of practice hours under your belt. We have a wide range of school teaching jobs open in various locations, requiring an array of distinct requirements. Learn more about ESL Teaching Eligibility.
- Are there any other kind of school teaching jobs available in China?
Oh, funny you should ask! Yes, there are: alongside teaching English, there’s an array of subjects for which English-speaking teachers are required and this particular demand has been on the increase in recent years. It does make sense: the more that students are subjected to a foreign language, the more likely they will be to improve their knowledge. Linguistic immersion for Chinese students is as pivotal as Mandarin-immersion will no-doubt be for you.
- Is it hard to get a visa to teach in China?
Not really, the great majority of teachers face no issues whatsoever, their contracted school helping them secure what’s called a Z Visa, the only one that allows for full-time employment. Having said that, having ‘no issues’ doesn’t mean the process is easy and swift. It’s still a complicated matter that will involve multiple steps, all in order to deal with the mind-boggling Chinese bureaucracy. Moreover, each school belonging to a different province faces its own bureaucratic requirements, making every visa application very much made on an ‘individual, case-by-case’ basis. Nothing about Chinese visas is ever routine but if all the ducks are in order, you will eventually (and hopefully) be granted the right visa to teach here. You’ll just need a lot of help from your recruiter along the way!
- Can I bring my spouse along?
Well, we wouldn’t ask you to get a divorce, no matter how great teaching in China really is!
Spousal S1 and S2 visas are granted to dependents of foreigners heading to China on a full-employment visa and that includes dependent children and parents as well. You will need to sort out your visa permit first, however, before your ‘dependent other’ can do the same. Note that S2 visa is limited to 180 days and S1 is not. There’s always the option of having your spouse certified so they too can teach in China, either at the same school as you (happens often, in fact) or a different one, nearby.
- Can I bring my pet, too?
Ok, now you’re pushing it! This one’s a quite firm no, as importing pets is immensely difficult. Not impossible…but difficult.
- Can I trust schools and teaching institutions in China to be reliable and trustworthy?
Whilst you may be unable to trust a school from where you’re sitting, you can trust ChinaByTeaching to carefully vet each teaching institution carefully. There are a lot of unscrupulous people out there, ready to take advantage of unwitting and inexperienced teachers. The best way to ensure your big move is to trust a reputable, experienced and professional recruiter.
- How much can I expect to make teaching English in China?
Salaries for teaching jobs in China can vary quite a lot: you can earn just USD 1000 a month in a small school in the back of beyond or rake in over USD 4,000, including rental assistance and health-care coverage, in some of the country’s most prestigious schools.
- Where would I live?
Housing is usually (but not always) organised by the school and, naturally, you will also have the option of grabbing your own rental apartment. It’s wise to simply go through all your options as job offers are received.
- How does the process even start?
Contact us here and we’ll tell you all we need to know at first: your skills, education levels, preferences etc. Then we’ll scour our database to find what we think may be suitable positions (see the kind of ESL Teaching Jobs available) and apply on your behalf. The moment we get a positive response…you’ll be the first to know. From there, the ducks will start waddling. In the meantime, feel free to peruse our teaching locations and see where you may end up living!