With its booming economy and rise in education levels, China is facing an unprecedented shortage of kindergarten teachers and, specifically, TEFL kindergarten teachers. A good education is the cornerstone of Chinese society and something that starts very early in life. Kindergarten isn’t compulsory in China but there aren’t many parents who choose not to send their kids, aged 2-7, either to public, private or international pre-schools, even if they have grandparents at home who could look after them. New kindergartens are constantly opening up all over China (especially in major cities) and teaching opportunities for ESL teachers are quite extensive, given that the axiom of a good education in China is inextricably linked with learning foreign languages, the prime choice being English.
The kindergarten curriculum is divided into three distinct levels:
- Low – For children aged 2 to 4
- Medium – For 4 and 5-year-old children
- High – For 5, 6 and sometimes even 7-year old children, who are preparing for primary school
The best-paid kindergarten jobs in China are offered in the major cities like Shanghai and it is in these cities that you’ll also find a greater choice. Most international schools, nowadays, have incorporated kindergarten classes as well and positions here are offered with fantastic remuneration packages.
If you love working with kids, you’ll find kindergarten jobs to be the most rewarding of all: better paid than university jobs and with much better working conditions than those offered in training centres. Although top positions in International Schools can pay higher than kindergartens, they usually require subject specialization, prior teaching experience (for the most part) and require you to work much harder than you ever would in a kindergarten. Relatively speaking therefore, kindergarten jobs do offer a greater value-for-money teaching experience.
But again…you must love being with kids!
What is unique about kindergarten jobs in China?
It would be disingenuous to call kindergarten teaching ‘easy’: teaching and working with children certainly has its own set of difficulties. However, this kind of teaching can be vastly different from any other kind of ESL teaching jobs in China. The need for class preparation and out-of-school work is significantly less whilst classroom time can be a lot more fun. You’ll need to be adaptable and flexible when teaching young kids here yet if you have the right skills and mindset, you may find it to be incredibly rewarding work.
Many ESL teachers get a foot in the door in China by accepting a kindergarten job, intending to move on to training centres and universities later on yet end up finding the work so rewarding that they never actually make the switch. Take a look at our Teaching Destinations page to see where kindergarten jobs can take you.
What’s it like to teach kindergarten kids in China?
Generally speaking, you won’t have to teach more than 20 students per class and you’ll usually have a few teaching assistants that will contribute to the class and help translate when necessary. Your teaching schedule will vary according to the school and the job to which you’re applying – at times, it may be to work full-time as an ESL-teacher solely with one class, in which case your duties will go beyond simply teaching English and may include sport classes, playtime and even cooking classes (a lot of fun!) or you may be employed specifically as an ESL teacher for various classes, in which case you’ll only have a few foreign-language classes each day.
When applying for kindergarten jobs in China (or any other kind of ESL teaching job), it’s imperative you understand exactly what the position entails.
Full-time ESL kindergarten jobs – Your workday may start at 7.30am and end at 5.30pm, with a generous lunchbreak of about 2.5 hours. Do note that schedule will differ depending on the school.
Dedicated TESL kindergarten jobs – Apply for jobs that solely involve teaching English and your hours will be reduced. Usually, you’ll teach for about 3 hours and have, in some schools, about an hour or two of admin work to carry out in the office a few days a week. Classes normally run for about half an hour and, depending on the school, you could be required to teach anything from one to five classes a day.
Every kindergarten and pre-school in China beats to its own drum so take the above-mentioned as general guidelines only. If you are interested in working in kindergartens and with children in China, the array of work opportunities is quite extensive. Obviously, classes for 7-year-old can be more structured and complicated than those for 3-year-olds, so your options for teaching styles can also be a lot more varied. Rather than a very solid academic and professional skill-set, kindergarten teaching in China is geared more toward creative, patient and positive teachers who have a genuine interest in helping young minds grow. At times, this can be an excellent option for TESL teachers who don’t yet boast a lot of classroom experience.
Are kindergarten jobs well paid?
All TEFL jobs are well paid in China yet kindergarten jobs are better paid than most, especially in more prestigious schools. Your monthly salary could be anywhere between 8,000 and 24,000 Y, which is roughly USD 1,2000 – 3,500. Do also keep in mind that, on a good teaching contract you could also receive rent allowance, medical insurance, visa reimbursement and even flight costs paid on top of your monthly salary.