Teaching English in Beijing

Beijing is one of the most popular  English Teaching destinations to teachers heading to China and it’s certainly not hard to see why that is. The city boasts an enviable standard of living for foreign teachers and offers the best English teaching jobs in all of China.

What are the benefits of teaching English in Beijing?

Beijing is home to some of China’s most reputable and prestigious schools, training centres and universities. These offer the highest salaries and the greatest number of perks for English-speaking foreign teachers.

Coupled with a low cost but high standard of living, and the fact that foreign teachers enjoy a privileged standing in Chinese society, all that makes English teaching in Beijing an excellent personal and professional choice.

Here’s what else Beijing offers:

  • An abundance of attractions and activities in the city
  • Even more fun things to see and do in the countryside
  • Exciting living in one of China’s most cosmopolitan and modern cities
  • Much less pronounced culture-shock for Western teachers
  • The highest concentration of Western-style restaurants, chain shops and luxuries
  • The largest expat social networks in all of China
  • Amazing flight connections to the rest of the world
  • Buzzy vibe of a city that never sleeps
  • Outstanding safety – much like Shanghai, this is perhaps the safest megacity in the world

We’ve compiled a list of the most often-asked questions from potential foreign teachers wishing to head to Beijing with the aim to offer the most valuable info to help you decide if this is, indeed, the right Teaching Destination for you.

What’s it like living in Beijing?

Beijing has a welcoming, X-large expat scene this makes the initial moving-in period much easier for foreign teachers.  Your teaching colleagues will undoubtedly be your first port of call when it comes to creating new friendships but don’t be surprised if your social circles grow rapidly. With so many social groups organising weekly gatherings and excursions, it’s very easy to meet people as long as you are pro-active

The strong foreign presence in Beijing has created a hive of activities, be it picnics, music festivals, parties, art exhibitions, yoga classes and ‘traditional Sunday roast’ get-togethers. This can make even the most timid of newcomers feel right at home. Well, almost.

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Be proactive when it comes to socialising in Beijing: you really need to put yourself out there if you hope to make new friends quickly. It’s true that there are many foreigners here but the city’s size and hectic pace mean you simply can’t leave it to ‘chance’ to form new social ties. Research ex-pat groups and forums before you even arrive and, once here, join clubs, go to events, say ‘yes’ to every invite. Just don’t be afraid to get out and about!

What’s the cost of living like in Beijing?

One of the prime reasons many chose to teach English in Beijing, particularly, is that the city boasts very high wages. Many foreign teachers can live comfortably (eating out and travelling often) whilst still saving a bundle every month.

What Beijing offers, more than anything else, is a mind-boggling array of affordable choices when it comes to accommodation, food and much more. Many expats here report enjoying a much better quality of life, overall, then they did (or ever could) back home.

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We’d be the last people to say you shouldn’t be reaching out for comfort home foods when living in Beijing. Just know that imported goods here are quite expensive! Choose to eat local, as much as possible, and you’ll have a lot more play funds at the end of every month.

What is there to do in Beijing?

One of the prime reasons many chose to teach English in Beijing, particularly, is that the city boasts enviably high wages. Many foreign teachers can live comfortably (eating out and travelling often) whilst still contributing to their savings. What Beijing offers, more than anything else, is a mind-boggling array of affordable choices (accommodation and food are just the start) and many TEFL teachers living in Beijing report enjoying a much better quality of life, overall, then they did back home.

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Beijing is often described as a mega-metropolis that’s chock-full of people. In many ways, it sure is! Yet you’ll be surprised to learn that Beijing also boasts a myriad of amazing parks where locals head to on weekends to unwind and exercise.

Your first few months in the city will probably be taken up with touristy sightseeing. After that, you’ll find a whole world of day-trips and popular weekend destinations that’ll keep you out of mischief.

Here are the top attractions you shouldn’t miss:

  • The Imperial Palace & Forbidden City
  • The Summer Palace
  • Beihai Park
  • Tiananmen Square
  • The Lama Temple
  • Beijing Capital Museum
  • The Temple of Heaven
  • Coat Hill Park
  • The Temple of Confucius
  • The Great Wall of China (just an hour away by train!)

Apart from the more active pursuits, Beijing also offers an insane number of super cool cafés, restaurants, pubs and clubs to discover, as well as an abundance of shopping options.

You could seriously spend years on end teaching English in Beijing and still feel like you’ve barely scratched the city’s surface!

How do you deal with the language/culture barrier in Beijing?

Being such a prominent metropolis, you’ll find English widely spoken in Beijing. However, this doesn’t mean you won’t feel the frustrating burden of the language barrier.

Yes, you may be able to converse freely with colleagues at the office but you probably won’t be able to have a casual chat with your grocer or butcher, your neighbour or any other local you meet along the way. This can be tough for some and, even after a few years, many TEFL teachers working in Beijing attest to feeling somewhat ‘detached’ from their own local community.

This kind of cultural gap is not only natural but also to be expected: China is a very enthralling and unique country, one with a distinct code of norms that will likely not resemble yours in the slightest.

Fascinating to the say the least, but also quite isolating in many ways, which makes the expat-connections all the more important.

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Learning Mandarin will go a long way to helping you connect with locals and most foreign teachers will choose to dedicate time to private lessons. This isn’t nearly as difficult as you may imagine so take advantage of your priceless chance to immerse yourself fully in Chinese culture and language when living in Beijing - it may just be the most rewarding aspect of your teaching experience here.

Facts

Quick Facts

  • Total Population:

    22.7 million

  • Expat Population:

    107,000

  • Airports:

    3 – Beijing Capital, Daxing, Nanyuan (secondary)

Salary

  • Average starting TEFL salary:

    14,000 RMB ($2000 USD) (public school)  / 21,000 RMB ($3000 USD)+ (private & international)

Climate

Continental monsoon

Transportation

  • Public Transport Cost:

    USD 0.66

Food

  • Eating Out (local food):

    $4

  • Eating Out (Western food):

    Under $12

  • Price of beer:

    $1 (local) $5 (imported)

Fun Fact

In 2022, Beijing will become the first city in the world to have hosted both Summer and Winter Olympics

Monthly rent

  • Starting Monthly Rent, City Centre:

    USD 450 in a shared apartment / 700-1000 in Rented apartment

  • Average Monthly Utilities:

    USD 40

  • Monthly Gym Membership:

    USD 50-60

Beijing photo
Beijing photo
Beijing photo