How would you like to travel the world, make tons of money, and live in Asia? That’s what you get when you become an English teacher in China! With this job, you get the chance to travel to other parts of Asia on vacation and visit other countries for holidays, all while making your bank account grow.
But it’s not as easy as showing up at the airport and saying you’re available; there are some things you need to know before getting on that plane to China, so here are 10 things you need to know before landing the teaching jobs in China!
- What visa do I need to teach ESL?
If you want to teach English in China, you’ll need to apply for a Z visa before leaving your home country. Getting a Chinese work visa (also known as a Z visa) requires a lot of paperwork, so make sure you start early and allow yourself plenty of time. A recruitment agency will help with most of the paperwork, but they may also charge extra fees that some employers cover and others don’t. Check with your employer to see what they will cover before signing on with an agency. Make sure you double-check all of your paperwork carefully before submitting it!
- What does the Chinese culture look like?
In a lot of ways, China is a perfect place to teach. The education system is substantial; there are opportunities to live and work in beautiful cities like Beijing or Shanghai, and many students want to learn English. But getting the jobs in China isn’t as easy as it seems. You may need a degree from an institution recognized by your prospective employer or some form of teaching certificate.
- What should I know about Chinese visas?
Technically, you should have a visa to work in any country that requires one. But don’t panic if you haven’t obtained a Chinese working visa before your first day at school—most schools will take care of it for you. If they don’t, or if you have to leave for an emergency trip home and can’t extend your current visa, however, here are some things to keep in mind: First off, if you obtain a working visa from an embassy outside of China (such as Canada), make sure it’s good for at least six months after your start date.
- Who are my employers going to be?
One of your primary concerns as an ESL teacher in China should be who you will be working for.
Before landing an ESL teaching job, knowing who will employ you is crucial and how much you’ll be paid for your hard work. Some schools won’t pay nearly enough for basic living expenses, so it’s worth spending some time looking into compensation packages before agreeing on a contract.
- How much can I expect to earn as an ESL teacher in China?
It’s possible to earn between 14,000 and 20,000 RMB per month as an ESL teacher in China. This can vary based on your experience, communication ability, location and more. Many teachers working in well-known cities like Beijing and Shanghai will earn more due to demand and higher cost of living. Before arriving in China, ensure you understand how much money you might make.
This helps you prepare for any shortcomings that might arise in the future.
- Am I qualified enough to get this job?
The chances are that no matter what city you’re looking to work and teach in, you’ll need a teaching certification and experience. If you don’t have either of these things, it may be worth spending some time getting them. Although they aren’t necessary, they can help make you more competitive when applying for jobs. For example, one could take an online TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course.
- What expenses should I expect when living and working in China as an ESL teacher?
Living in China as an ESL teacher is one of the most rewarding experiences a person can have. However, it comes with some expenses you might not expect. Below are two examples of things to know about living and working abroad as an ESL teacher:
- The cost of living varies from city to city in China, but generally, it is much cheaper than living in America or Europe. A month’s rent for a small apartment will usually cost between $300-$600 USD.
- Because housing costs are so low compared to other developed countries, many teachers choose to live alone or with roommates. This allows them more time to travel around Asia during their vacations.
- What kind of food should I expect?
In most larger cities like Beijing and Shanghai, you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding a place to buy some noodles or dumplings. Some teachers prefer cooking for themselves so they can go out after work or even explore around town. Of course, there are plenty of other options, including western foods.
- The holidays in China?
Some schools consider Chinese holidays and provide paid time for teachers. So you will still have off days, so use them to explore China. As a foreigner, you’ll be invited to festivals and celebrations.
During Spring Festival (Chinese New Year), try your hand at making dumplings with your students; experience different dragon boat races during Dragon Boat Festival (Duanwu Jie), and learn about local customs during Mid-Autumn Festival (Zhongqiu Jie). Your participation will likely make these experiences more meaningful for you and those around you.
- What kind of transport system should I expect?
Most major cities have some kind of public transport system, whether rail or bus. Bigger cities like Beijing and Shanghai are common and have multiple lines connecting to buses. Buses might be your only option if you’re in a smaller city. A private company doesn’t typically run buses—most are government-owned and operated with local taxi companies running their fleet of buses.
Either way, getting around isn’t too difficult unless you get lost. Most Chinese people know how to read maps, so don’t be afraid to ask for directions! The more questions you ask before arriving at your destination, the less likely you’ll be that something will go wrong during your first month abroad!
Although it may be a little intimidating to some, teaching English in China is actually quite exhilarating. So when you are ready to take the leap and make China your next destination for TEFL teaching, the above is what you need to know about life in China.