Having a Western teacher can translate into a huge boost in income for schools in China. This is especially true in less-prominent areas that don’t see a lot of foreign teachers. Teaching scams in China all basically revolve around recruiting foreign teachers – sometimes, they’ll just do everything they can to lock a foreigner into a teaching contract they can’t get out of.
Here’s how they do that:
The dodgy school employer
For desperate/unscrupulous employers, the pull can be too hard to resist. So they’ll start cutting corners, making empty promises and doing all sorts of (oftentimes) illegal stuff. Like telling you to travel to China on a tourist visa knowing well that it’s illegal for foreigners to work on such a visa. Some schools will ask to do this because it’s easier for them to do it in China rather than anywhere else.
Or they’ll promise you an astronomical salary that you know is well above your skills, qualifications and experience. Basically, you get a teaching job offer that sounds too good to be true. Sure, sometimes you can get lucky but the chance is higher that it’s a teaching scam. Best do your research and, if you aren’t sure you can trust them, then don’t!
How can you tell the genuine schools from the disingenuous ones? Well, it can be extremely difficult, especially if you don’t have experience.
Bottom line: get your Z visa in your home country or country of current residence
What can happen: anything from having your pay withheld to threatening to turn you into immigration. Or being carted off to teach in some obscure location you never agreed to. The apartment you were offered will turn out to be a dive. You’ll work twice as many hours as promised and, basically, you’ll suffer the pits of teaching hell. The worst part? If you signed their contract, there’s (almost) nothing you can do about it. Be VERY diligent in your research and only work for reputable employers with good reputations.
In other instances, it’s the recruiter that’s the scam artist.
The dodgy recruiter
Unprofessional scam-artist recruiters will promise you the best teaching job in China and, half-way through the process, will ask for just a little down-payment for their services. Hand over money to a teaching recruiter and we can guarantee you’ll never hear from them again. This is the most common kind of teaching scam in China and the sad part is that it always targets new and inexperience teachers. It targets young people who are just looking into the possibility of teaching abroad for the very first. What a travesty! How heartbreaking to know that some have been turned off the prospect of teaching abroad because they simply ran into an unsavoury recruiter.
What can happen: Aside from being scammed out of some money (bad enough) a dodgy recruiter can work in co-hoots with a dodgy school so you get hammered on both sides. You lose money AND, when you get in China, you’re at the mercy of an unethical employer (see above).
This is a general overview of the scamming situation and, as you can see, it can be pretty broad and also quite bleak. It’s not always about money and it’s not always about putting you in terrible working conditions that you can’t get out of. Sometimes, it’s both. But there is one thing to remember:
The overwhelming majority who teach in China LEGALLY with a REPUTABLE school will encounter very few problems.
Here’s how to avoid falling victim to one (or several) teaching in China scams: