Teach English in China

An Ultimate Guide to Help You Get Started.


Your Ultimate Guide to Teaching English in China

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If you are considering teaching English in China, this is a great guide for you to get started.

Why Teach English China?

With globalization bringing the world closer together, it’s not surprising that China is becoming one of the best countries for those who seek to teach abroad. It’s a big country with so many opportunities and plenty to offer for those that are willing to try something new. 

Besides, with its breath-taking landscapes, beautiful languages, incredible food, rich history, wonderful people and fascinating diversity, China makes a great place for those who’re considering teaching English abroad. Whether you are a certified teacher, or just recently graduated from university, there are positions tailored to your profile.


What People Say About Teaching in China?

"I think this is for anyone who wants to develop new skills and see something new and basically explore new parts of the world. I think China is just perfect place to be. It’s going to be also economical hub and it’s going to the center of trade."
Robert Niezgodtka
Teacher in Hangzhou, China
“The experiences, stories, impact, development you have when you move back to Australia (if you do decide to move back) will change you. Quite simply you just become a more interesting person."
Harold Aman
Teacher in Chongqing, China

Requirements to Teach in China

learn mandarin will help you job seeking and career development in China

Before making the decision to teach English in China, first and foremost, you need to know whether or not you are qualified for a teaching position. Though there are many different versions on the internet, you need to make sure that you are working under legal terms, i.e., teaching with work z visa

For English teaching positions, another requirement is that you will need to be a passport holder of either the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa.

Other things required are a clean police check, and a TEFL certificate (this can be waived​ if the applicant has more than two years of relevant teaching experiences). 


Opportunities in China for ESL Teachers

teaching jobs in china

As English is one the major subjects being examined at schools as well as the National College Entrance Examination (Gaokao), many students start learning English in kindergarten before they start school. Therefore, the demand for foreign English teachers came from all types of schools.

There are usually five main educational sectors who hire ESL teachers:

  • Public Schools
  • Private Schools 
  • Language institutions
  • International Schools
  • Kindergartens
  • Universities


Each year, there’s a huge demand from these schools for English/ESL teachers to come teach in China. These English teaching jobs offer a great opportunity for you to work, live and travel in one of China’s big cities for one year. Most teaching jobs provide great benefits that allows you to have a comfortable lifestyle in China.

 The basic package usually includes below:

  • Competitive local salary: ranging from RMB 10,000 – RMB 20,000, depending on the qualification and experiences.
  • Accommodation: depending on the city, you will get either free fully furnished apartment or housing allowances
  • Flight: usually will be reimbursed
  • Vacation: depending on the school type, usually will have 10 – 30 days’ vacation (besides weekends)
  • Insurance: health/accident insurance
  • New teacher training 
  • Extra-hour or performance bonuses

Plus, you get to have: 

  • Local cultural experience: there are social activities organised by the school
  • Free Chinese lessons: some employers offer free Chinese lessons 
  • Travelling experience inside or outside of China during your free time 

Salary & Benefits of Teaching English in China

teaching English in China salary The salary for teaching English in China can vary greatly depending on which area you are teaching in, which school you are teaching at, and whether your accommodations are included in that amount. 

Averagely, an ESL teacher can earn from 8,000 RMB ~ 24,000 RMB (1,500 ~ 3,486 USD). Other bonuses include housing allowances, airfare reimbursement, visa support, as well as insurances.  

Considering the comparatively low cost of living in most cities in China, those salaries are very competitive locally, and can allow expats to easily enjoy a comfortable lifestyle


Where Can You Teach English in China?

best city to teach English in China Shanghai

When it comes to places to teach English in China, the opportunities are practically endless.

You’ve most likely heard of the biggest cities like Shanghai and Beijing, but they are not completely representative of China. More and more potential teachers are choosing other alternatives than these two metropolitan cities.

A lot of things come into play when making such decision, cost of living, weather, population, food, pollution etc. But the most important factor is probably more on an individual level: are you a big city person, or prefer small places? Are you interested in cultures and languages? Do you prefer nature or city more? Answering these questions can already help you make the right decision for yourself.


Work Visa for Teaching in China


The work z visa is the only correct visa type that allows you to teach in China legally. 

Usually the schools will help arrange the visa application process for you, all you need to do is to gather all documents they requested. The visa rules might have some variations depending on which city you teach in, but generally, these are the documents for you to prepare:

  • A valid passport
  • Bachelor degree (authenticated by Chinese embassy) 
  • A clean police check (authenticated by Chinese embassy) 
  • Health check form
  • The 120-hour TEFL certificate (authenticated by Chinese embassy)   

Once you send all required documents to your employer, they will apply for the work permit from the local Chinese government, which takes about 2 – 3 weeks. Then you can use the work permit to apply for work visa from the Chinese embassy in your home country. 

The whole visa process might take up to 2~3 months depending on how fast your gather your documents, or the processing time of government entities. 


What the Experience Teaching English in China is Like?


There are so many things that you will be able to experience when you are living and teaching in China. 

First, imagine all the students that you will have an impact on, whether with the language that they are learning, in other areas of school, or even in their personal life.

As you are beginning to get accustomed to your new surroundings, you will meet new friends.  Some of these new friends will be teachers like you and they will have moved to this country to do the exact same thing that you are. However, you will also meet many new friends that live in China and they will turn into lifetime international acquaintances that you can connect with numerous times in the future.

While living in China, you may be busy teaching English to your students, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t have plenty of time to explore other areas of the country. Imagine taking a day to explore a city or town a couple hours away or taking a long weekend to see the sights that were recommended by your new friends!

The food in China is delectable and while it will be different from what you are used to, we can guarantee that you will love quite a few of the dishes after you try them. You may find a new favourite food in one of the local restaurants or you may experience it during a visit to the home of one of your colleagues.

No day is ever the same in China, especially when you have just moved there to teach.  Therefore, you should be prepared for unexpected surprises. But isn’t that a big reason why you wanted to go overseas at the first place?


Commonly Asked Questions 

Although it’s very much appreciated in our culture – Chinese people love foreigners speaking Chinese! You don’t have to be fluent in Mandarin in order to teach English in China. Here are a few reasons why: 

  • Most schools want you to just speak English to the students. 
  • You’ll want your students to stick to English in your classroom anyway. 
  • You can take a Chinese class yourself. 
  • Use language apps to fill in the gaps. 
  • Make a friend to exchange language with.

Though teaching experience is highly valued for this position, it’s not a must-have requirement. Most schools will provide teachers will training before their work to make sure they comply with their teaching curriculum and specific methods.

Many teachers start without prior experience but after a number of classes teachers are usually always able to adapt, get comfortable and enjoy their lessons.

The total work hours are maximum 40, this include teaching hours as well as office hours (applied to some positions depending on school structure). 

Schedules are slightly different depending on the school type and the area. If teaching at public schools, the schedule will be Monday – Friday whereas in institutions, you’ll be working over the weekends and nighttime during weekdays, and have two week days off.

The standard contract will be 12 months and in some cases (mostly public school), might be around 10 months. You can extend your contract to another year if you want, and the average length of stay for teachers is around 2 – 3 years.

This definitely depends on the lifestyle you live. As most teaching in China positions offer either free accommodations or allowances, the only cost you’ll have is your everyday expenses, which leaves you a big portion of disposable income. 

Depending on which cities you live in, Chinese locals live off an average 2,500 RMB ~ 5,000 RMB per month, that includes grocery shopping, dinning out a few times a week, drinking and KTV sessions with friends, transportation to work and taking taxi or Didi (the Chinese version of Uber) here and there, going for a spa or massage once a week, etc. The average foreigner can live a comfortable life with 5,000 ~ 6,000 RMB, and in cities that are not BeijingShanghai, or Shenzhen, the money can go much further. 

Get Started with Your Journey in China

Guanxi is More Important than You Think working in China

China is becoming one of the most wonderful places to travel in the world – well, let’s face it, it has always been a wonderful place to explore.

There are so many people out there right now enjoying a fun and fulfilling life by combining their passion for travel with supporting students to learn and grow!

You can too.


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