Why Teach in Vietnam?
Why Teach in China?
Soup for breakfast, steamed buns for lunch and total chaos for dinner- are you up for it?
Teaching and living in China is a wild experience for anyone coming from the Western world.
The food will never disappoint with traditional delicacies from Peking duck and Sesame Noodles to even wilder culinary experiences like deep-fried star fish and grilled scorpions.
The bucket list destinations as Giant Pandas in Chengdu, Painted Rainbow Mountains in Zhangye and Xi’an’s Terracotta Warriors make the move totally justifiable. Oh ya, and The Great Wall of China. If you hike the Great Wall in areas that are off the beaten path, you will be humbled by the peace and the beauty that surrounds you. China is, undeniably, a stunning country.
And as far as teaching goes, the opportunities are endless. With a population of 1.4 billion and home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world- learning English is in high demand and that demand will only grow stronger.
Venture out into something different by teaching in China, a place that is full of life, weird food, weekend excitement and never ending beauty. You won't regret it.
Qualifications to Teach in China
In order to legally teach in China, you've got to meet certain requirements that fall under the Chinese State Administration for Foreign Expert Affairs. Here's your checklist:
Native English Speaker: Required
Bachelor’s Degree: Required
TEFL Certificate: Required (Note: at least a 100- hour TEFL certification/ 120-hour is preferred)
Health Check: Required in China within the first 30 days
Criminal Background Check: Not Required
The Chinese Government is very particular about TEFL certificates and do not accept ones that have the word "online" stamped on it. We highly recommend using ITT TEFL's Online Course to ensure a China-friendly certificate!
Use our link below and automatically get a 5% discount on your online TEFL course at check-out.
How to Find a Job in China
Quick Insight: Chinese students go to their regular public schools in the morning, and then head straight to their “cram” school afterwards where they study until the evening/night. Most English teachers work in the privately-owned “cram” schools.
When looking for a teaching job in China, there are multiple options specifically unique to the country. Let’s break em’ down.
Option 1: Apply for a Public School Position
With the ESL company called Opportunity China, there's not much to it. Go on their website and click apply. Then you'll be contacted by one of their staff to have a Skype call and discuss your options.
Opportunity China will even consider taking on University Students who are in their last year of school.
Option 2: Apply to a Large Chain “Cram School”
Look into big cram schools, which are hiring year-round, such as Shane School, EF English First, and several others. These schools have branches all over China, have plenty of positions to fill and allow you to apply online even before you move to China.
As with any big company, private Chinese language schools such as these have their pros and cons.
The pros being that you don’t have to have experience to teach here and you are guaranteed a visa/work permit and consistent schedule. The cons are that you don’t have much leverage to negotiate your work schedule, hourly salary, and must stick to the franchise curriculum no matter how outdated it may be.
Option 3: Join WeChat Teaching Groups
WeChat is one of China's most popular social media and messaging apps. You can find teaching groups, agencies, and forums within the WeChat network where you can find or apply to jobs!
Some groups to connect with...
The People's Republic of Teaching
Mandarin House in People Square
....the list goes on.
Option 4: Take a TEFL Course in China and Land a Job
The experience is one you'll never forget - taking TEFL courses with other aspiring TEFL teachers during the day and exploring the bright lights of Shanghai at night.
Sign up now, and you can be in China as soon as next month or schedule your course 6-months down the line.
The TEFL course includes:
120 hour TEFL qualification
1 month full-immersion in China
Orientation and 24/7 in-country support
4 weeks’ practical classroom teaching experience with local Chinese students
Airport pick-up and in-country transfers
Luckily, the best TEFL course in China also happens to be the cheapest. Yes, please!
Use our link below and automatically get an extra 5% discount on your TEFL course at check-out.
Option 4: Look for Smaller Schools Online via Job Postings
Jobs posted on Facebook and in teaching forums lead you directly to the source! You can easily have several interviews lined up within your first few days of applying!
You’ll need to be in the country (or a couple weeks within moving) in order to apply for these schools so that you're immediately ready for an in-person interview.
You can use this income to supplement you while you look for a teaching job, or add a few hours of private sessions to you work week for some easy cash.
Visas for Teachers in China
TEFL teachers in China will enter the country on a Z Visa.
A Z Visa is a temporary visa that will grant you access into China, but will then be converted into a working visa once you're in the country (we'll get to that part later).
In order to obtain a Z Visa, a teacher must be sponsored by a school. Once hired, the school will help you process the necessary paperwork and collect that visa BEFORE you fly to China.
Once your Z visa is issued, you are required to enter the country within 90 days, otherwise it will expire. For example, if you get the visa in your passport on April 1st, you need to enter China before July 1st.
Once in China, your Chinese Z Visa will only be valid for a duration of 30 days. In other words, once you arrive in the country, you will have 30 days to register at a local public security bureau to replace your Z visa with a China Residence Permit. The latter is a multiple-entry visa that will allow you to travel outside the country and re-enter freely during your 1 year stay.
Step 1: Gather your required documents
Step 2: Take them to the nearest Chinese Embassy to apply in person. You can also entrust a friend, a travel agency or visa agency to act on your behalf. Mailed applications are not acceptable.
Step 3: Wait for the embassy to contact you to claim your passport and visa.
Step 4: Collect your passport and new Z visa at the Chinese embassy.
Step 4: You’re ready to fly to China
Once your documents have been accumulated and presented to the embassy, it usually takes as little as 4 days to get your visa issued to you. Yep, it's that quick!
For a breakdown of the documents needed to get your teaching visa in China, keep scrolling...
Starting the Z Visa process should go something like this...
Document Checklist for Chinese Visa
Before you head to the Chinese embassy to apply for your Z Visa, make sure that you have the following documents ready to go!
All of the documents required are listed above, although, it can happen that certain Chinese Consulates have different requirements. It may therefore be necessary for you to go over the rules and regulations of the consulate in your jurisdiction.
When it comes to converting your Z Visa to a Chinese Residence Visa, your school will handle the documents.
Passport that has a minimum of 12 months validity left
A photocopy of the name page of your passport
The completed Visa Application Form V.2013 (note: hand written forms are not acceptable)
One recent passport-sized photograph (refer to the China visa photo specific requirements here)
Either a Notification of Work Permit (issued by China State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs) or an original Alien Employment Licenses (issued by China Ministry of Labor and Social Security) *These will be provided by your school*
What's Included in the Job
Private English Academies
Average Monthly Income: $900-$2,400+ per month
Medical Insurance: Provided
End of the Year Pension or Bonus: Provided
Vacation Time: 10 days
Contract Commitment: Yearly
Average Monthly Income: $1,200-$3,300+ per month
Housing: Provided (usually a campus location)
Medical Insurance: Provided
End of the Year Pension or Bonus: Provided
Vacation Time: 11 days national Chinese public holidays plus 11 days personal holidays for a total of 22 days
Contract Commitment: Quarterly-Yearly
Cost of Living in China
Since your school pays for your rent, your cost of living will be relatively low depending on how much you spend on entertainment, travel, and partying. Hard life, right?
The beauty of living in China is that you can live on a budget, live comfortably, and live lavishly. All the options are there! You can spend anywhere between $300-$1500 total per month- it all depends on you.
Let's say you aim to live comfortably and crunch the numbers accordingly...
(Prices are in USD and are roughly accurate according to numbeo.com and individual research– Updated August 2017)
Ranking of Popular Teaching Cities by Cost of Living
Compare your current cost of living to Chinese cities here.
Taxi (1km): $0.34
Local Transport 1-way Ticket: $0.30
1 Dozen Eggs: $1.62
Chicken Breast (1kg): $.3.73
Loaf of Fresh White Bread: $1.39
Domestic Beer (bottle): $0.78
Restaurant Meal (inexpensive restaurant): $3.00
McDonald’s Combo Meal: $4.50
Cinema- International Release (1 Ticket): $7.49
Gym Membership (monthly): $38.39
1. Shanghai (most expensive)
The Low Down on China
Language: Mandarin Chinese
Currency: Chinese Yuan; (CNY rating here)
Type of Government: Unitary one-party socialist republic
Crime: Low crime rate! Check out the data here
Safety Concerns: Pollution
Public Transportation: Buses, trains, metros etc. are very cheap but also very congested. If you prefer a bit more comfort and space, rather opt for taxis, which are also very affordable!
What's it like Living in...
There's no denying the fact that the city of Beijing has an ancient feel to it and that quality is exactly what makes it such a god damn charming place. Beijing is the capital city of China and boasts of some of the most incredible historical sights of history, ranging from the famous Forbidden City and the luxurious Summer Palace or Temple of Heaven to the controversial Tiananmen Square.
Time flies in Beijing as there's so much to see during your free time outside of the classroom or on the weekends. It's no surprise that with the intense consumer culture of Beijing that shopping is a serious activity around here. There's always a mall, a market, or a street where you can find everything from high-end merch to weird wtf trinkets.
It's not all chaos in Beijing however. Wander narrow alleys and small neighborhoods to check out what the locals are up to, stuff yourself silly with various food stalls, play a game of Mahjong with the old guys on the street corner, or hop in a taxi and head to the nearby Great Wall of China for some hiking. There's no doubt that Beijing is an AWESOME city.
Enjoy the hustle and bustle of big cities? Then you'll certainly thrive in the modern and trendy Shanghai. It's a place where the night life is always switched on, technology is alien-level advanced, and skyscrapers are countless. Better yet, you can explore whenever and where ever your adventure takes you, thanks to the forever roaming policemen and digital cameras planted in every nook and cranny.
If it's food you're after, find peace in knowing that you'll never go hungry in this city. Shanghai restaurants are incredibly varied and range from Italian and Thai to Russian and Western- and of course, you'll find all variations of Chinese food.
Like to knock back a couple drinks? Go for it- you won't be driving anyways. The transport system here is top notch with a clean and speedy metro system, tons of taxis, trains and buses to get you home safely. As for you responsible kids who are competent on 2-wheels, there's always the choice to go around in a tandem bike, a motorized scooter or a mix between the two: an e-bike.
Tone it down a bit with this “small” 3rd tier city. Life here is a bit more laid-back than Shanghai and Beijing- and certainly more affordable. As it's not a main hub for international trade, there aren't as many foreigners that live in Kunming. That mean's it's time to start practicing your Chinese and gearing up to integrate into Chinese culture.
The highlight of Kunming, perhaps, is the lake located in the city centre where you can have a picnic, take a boat ride, or just breath in some fresh air. As far as “things to do” go, you can find humble cafés to devour a good book and and wander the streets on food explorations. If you are a great-outdoors type of person, there are also plenty of spots to do some after-work hiking in and around the area.
As the factory hub of China, Shenzhen is rapidly-growing! With an estimated population of 10.8 million, Shenzhen is half the size of Shanghai but still has that big city feel. In terms of nightlife, shopping, and fascinating chaos, you get all of the perks of living in Shanghai but on a smaller scale.
Shenzhen has plenty of universities for your international mingling needs, fascinating factory culture for you aspiring entrepreneurs, and an international airport for when you just want to get out of town and explore the country.
In comparison to the other cities on this list, Guangzhou is this most chilled out. If you're looking for a place that will allow minimal culture-shock with a fairly westernized touch - start here.
For weekend fun, there's the famous crocodile or safari park, the Chimelong Waterpark, s world-class amusement park, the Canton Tower elevator with incredible views of the city and a river cruise where you can knock back a few beers.
When you feel like getting out of town, Guangzhou is just a short train ride away from Hong-Kong for a total change in scenery.
What's to Love about China?
It's just down-right exciting and bizarre
The all-inclusive teacher packages are rewarding and generous
A chance to learn and practice the most widely-spoken language in the world
The grub is either extremely delicious or extremely “interesting”
Menus, Signs, and Transportation in English
Every city in the country is so diverse, so it makes traveling within its boarders super fun
There's a strong English teacher community
What's to Dislike about China?
The city can feel very crowded
There are high levels of pollution (smog)
Manners. They don't exist.
Pushing, spitting, and yelling are just the way of life in China