Teaching English in China: A Short Look at a Huge Country

Country Overview

China is the world’s most populous country and home to over a billion people. According to China Daily more than 300 million Chinese already are studying English—nearly one quarter of the country’s population. This adds up to a land of great opportunity for people who would like to teach English abroad.

Teaching Requirements

To teach in China, most employers will require:

  • A bachelor’s degree in any subject
  • Citizenship from a country where English is the first language
  • A Z-visa

Better jobs will require a TEFL training course and/or previous teaching experience, but due to the number of vacancies, many employers are flexible.

Getting Jobs

Many teachers choose to line up positions in advance from abroad. This can be done in several ways. Online TEFL job boards advertise pages of vacancies, to which qualified teachers may apply directly. In addition to international online job boards like www.eslcafe.com, Chinese-centered sites like www.chinatefl.com and www.jobchina.net are good resources. Many teachers even begin applying before they have completed their TEFL certification (or even signed up!) and are hired contingent on its completion.

Job Descriptions

If you teach at a public school, expect to work a full 40-hour teaching schedule (7 a.m. to 3 p.m., for example) if you are the main teacher. Assistant teachers might only work 20 hours. At a university, hours are typically very manageable, with classes blocked off into 40-minute segments. At private language institutes, you’ll work about 20-30 hours per week, with a range of hours (split schedules) to accommodate both young learners and professionals. In addition, language institutes may require additional hours from teachers outside of their regular schedules for activities such as hosting language clubs, or even recruiting new students to the school. Most employers prefer hiring teachers for six-month to one-year contracts.

Interested in hearing from another TEFL teacher in China? Read Erin’s story.