Teaching English in China
Essential Information to Help You Get Started.
Frequently Asked Questions About Teaching English in China
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1. I can’t speak Chinese, is that a problem?
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.
2. I don’t have prior teaching experience, can I still teach?
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.
3. An I qualified to teach in China?
Here are the requirements we have for our teaching position:
- A graduate with a Bachelor degree (no specific field required)
- Native speaker in English from United Kingdom, United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand or South Africa in order to meet China’s visa regulations.
- Able to obtain clean police check
- Able to work and live in China for at least one year
4. What’s the currency in China?
The currency that’s been used in mainland China is RMB, also referred to in unit as Yuan. (Note: it’s different from the Japanese currency Yen). You can convert RMB into your own currency here.
5. What is the cost of living in China?
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 Beijing, Shanghai, or Shenzhen, the money can go much further.
6. What salary can I expect?
The standard teaching salary will be around RMB 8,000 – RMB 15,000 depending on the school packages. This is an above-the-average salary standard in China that can get you a comfortable living in most cities. Please read more details about teaching in China salary here.
7. What are my teaching hours?
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.
8. What are the facilities like in the schools?
Most are fairly new, some equipped with very advanced educational technologies. Teachers are generally impressed with what children in China have available to them.
9. What are the class sizes?
This really depends on the school type. For public schools it ranges from 40 to 60, whereas for institutions and kindergartens it ranges from 15 to 35 depending on whether it’s designed as a small class of medium class.
Different class sizes might bring you different experiences and challenges, and most schools will provide training ans support to make sure you’ll able to handle it.
10. How is the daily commute?
Generally each program will assist teachers in finding a place to live as close as possible to the school location, but then some teachers also take a preference over being closer to friends or closer to the city, subway, etc. so it’s also a choice and a balance act.
Also for metropolitan cities, generally teachers should expect to be inside a bus or metro for at least 30 minutes. Whereas if you choose a small to medium sized cities it’s more likely to get an accommodation that’s much closer that you can even walk to your school!
11. What holidays can I expect?
The holidays may change depending on the school, but most offer a minimum two weeks paid vacation every year during Chinese Spring Festival, one week paid vacation in October, all Chinese official holidays, and 2 to 4 unpaid weeks off for travel (need to negotiate the time with the school in advance).
12. Usually how long are the contracts?
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.
13. Will I get accommodation allowances?
There are usually two types of packages:
Free accommodation on top of base salary: the accommodation will be provided and you don’t need to worry about anything from sourcing the place to basic facilities;
Housing allowances: Usually RMB 3,000 on top of your base salary; support in sourcing the place will be provided.
In some positions, school will offer a salary package without accommodation, but the salary will be a similar amount to that of the combination of base salary and accommodation provided by others.
14. What the accommodation look like?
Most accommodation condition will be new or semi-new fully furnished apartment, which contains dining area, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom, some with balcony and study room.
15. What is the food like?
This might vary depending on where you teach. Almost every region has its own type of cuisine that’s very different from another. Most teachers are amazed at the variety and taste of food in China. Meanwhile there are also things like pizza, bread and western or foreign food options, which are usually quite accessible in most cities.
16. How easy is it to get around the city?
Most teaching positions will be in a city environment that’s super convenient to get around, with large shopping malls and convenient public transport. The bus or railway are very frequent and can arrive at most areas you need to; taxi or Didi (equivalent to Uber) are also very affordable in China; there are also a lot of options for restaurants, pubs and clubs.
17. Do I need to open a bank account in China?
To set up the bank account in China, technically you need to have the residency permit, with some location exceptions that teachers can get the bank accounts right away. When you arrive China, your employer will will bring you to the local office for obtaining the residency permit. After that, they will help you set up your bank account which you can use to receive your monthly payment: if by any chances the payment is delayed due to your residency permit, your first payment will be paid in cash.
18. Can I transfer money from China to my my bank at home?
Yes definitely, though it might take some work but it’s fairly easy.
19. Do I need vaccinations?
Most teaching positions will be in modern city environment, regardless of the city sizes. So generally it’s not a must but if you prefer to get some vaccinations, you can use the recommendations by your GP from your country.
20. What things should I bring to China?
With the advanced e-commerce and nation-wide delivery system, you’d be impressed how easy it is to buy anything here in China. So unless you have a specific preference for certain goods, there’s no need to bring much stuff to China. However, it’s highly recommended to bring up to $1,500 cash to make your transition to China more smoothly: basic living and some fees before your first month’s salary come in. The standard company payment system in China is monthly by the 15th of the month.
21. Is it true that Google/Facebook are blocked in China?
Yes, in China locals usually use the Chinese internet products such as Baidu (equivalent to Google) and WeChat (equivalent to Facebook and Instagram). For foreign teachers, you can use VPN to access internet services such as Facebook and Google to stay in touch with your friends and families at home. VPN works on your phones/tablets/laptops/computer.
Now the VPNs are difficult to download while you are in China, so it is recommended that you download the VPN service on your computer/phone/tablet before coming to China. The price is quite reasonable, about $100 per year.
22. What is the visa process like?
Your employer will provide assistance throughout your visa application process. The costs for processing the work permit documents inside China will be covered by your employer. Teachers need to pay the fees for getting documents notarized/authenticated, passport photos, and the fee charged by the Chinese visa processing office in their country.
Please check more details here:
Documents you need to obtain your work permit:
- Passport scan
- ID photo
- Authenticated Bachelor Degree
- Authenticated police check
- TEFL certificate
Once you receive the work permit, you will visit your nearest China Visa processing office in your country. The general process is 3 or 4 business days.
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