Some questions you need to know before teaching English in China
1: Can I teach English in China without a BA
Teaching English in China usually we would recommend you have a BA Degree or higher as the Chinese government requires a BA to offer you a working visa. China provides many ESL jobs in many cities, if you hold a BA, without a doubt you can work in China legally and safely and will have many chances to teach in a better school as well. However, some employers hire teachers who don’t have a BA and only provide a business/tourist visa which comes with it's own risks.
2: What is TEFL/TESOL/CELTA? Do I need one to teach English in China?
There are many different forms of these certificates all with different acronyms. TEFL stands for “Teaching English as a Foreign Language”, TESOL stands for “TeachingEnglish to Speakers of Other Languages“, and CELTA stands for “Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.” Basically they are all the same. They give you the credentials to teach English as a second language. CELTA is definitely the most recognized as it is a Cambridge university administered course. But all of these certificates are internationally accepted. It is recommended that you have such a certificate to teach English because the course will teach you the basics of classroom management, lesson planning and new language introduction.
In China, you should have at least 120hours TEFL to apply a working visa. And some private schools will accept 60hours online TEFL generally in the smaller cities only. Large cities such as Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Beijing will usually only accept a 120 hour TEFL or higher. These schools will often offer new teachers an intensive training course to help prepare them for their new positions. Holding one of them can provide you more opportunities to find a job in China.
3: How do I find a job teaching English in China?
There are a lot of resources for finding jobs teaching English in China, here we recommend you some useful websites: ESL Café.com; Teachingchina.net; Findworkaobroad.com and echinacities.com. You will find hundreds of job postings for places all over the world and a lot of useful information. Keep in mind that there are a lot of bad contracts out there, so be diligent in choosing your employer.
4: What is a recruiter? Are they free? Should I use one?
A recruiter is an agent hired by the school to help them hire new teachers. Because the demand for foreign teachers is so high (and constantly rising) schools have had to resort to employing recruiters to help bring teachers in from abroad.
The recruiter will be paid 100% by the school and this will in no way be reflected in your contract (If the recruiter expects payment by you, look elsewhere, it must be a scam).
There is no harm in using a recruiter and if you find your job on Teachingchina.net or findworkabroad.com. Then you will find out it is easier than yourself to find a job. Don’t worry about your information being posted all over the internet reliable recruiters such as our website and findworkabroad.com will always respect your privacy in accordance with international laws.
5: How do I make sure that the school is reputable and legitimate?
The biggest concern for teachers finding jobs in China is the reputation of their school. The web is full of horror stories about teachers signing horrible contracts that inevitably have them working too much for too little. Keep in mind that you are signing a legal document that requires you to teach, you are not signing away your soul to the devil. The best way to check the legitimacy of a school and its contract is to ask for the contact details of other foreign teachers who work there. Send them an email or give them a call, chances are they will be very honest with you and they can help you with your decisions (this is common practice).
6: How many hours will I work when teaching English in China?
Typically, teachers in China are required to work between 15-30 hours per week total. Many schools require minimal teaching hours, while the rest is made up with “office time”. A contract that includes office hours is not a bad option because it often gives teachers time to write lesson plans and mark tests. Office hours are generally un-monitored and once your teaching is up to the standard required by the school you'll usually be able to go home during your office time.
7: How much can an ESL teacher earn per month when teaching English in China?
Salaries can vary greatly in China depending on where you work, how many hours you work, which levels you teach and which school employs you. The lower end of the spectrum is around 5000RMB/month. This would be considered a poor salary. Some teachers make as much as 20,000/month but these types of jobs are often full-time hours and can be very hard to find (as well as being reserved for experienced teachers with degrees). A good wage that you should expect to find quite easily is around 8,000 – 10,000 RMB / month. Usually, teachers also receive a living allowance (500-2,000 RMB depending on location) on top of their wage. The taxes in China are very low, so you can expect to take home as much as 98% of this after tax.
8: What are the best cities to live in when teaching English in China?
This of course depends on what sort of experience you want to have and the type of lifestyle you hope to live. If you like the city life then eastern China is definitely for you. You can live in the modern cities like Shanghai and Beijing, or you can live in a small Chinese city of 5,000,000 people like Yangzhou or Nanjing. Keep in mind that bigger cities usually pay more but this extra wage usually isn’t enough to cover inflated living expenses. Northern cities can be beautiful but temperatures drop to -30 degrees Celsius for months at a time, so if you’re used to tropical weather, you’d better go to the south of China, like Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
9: How much do apartments cost in China? How do I find an apartment in China? What are they like?
Finding an apartment is usually pretty easy. The costs will vary greatly depending on where you live. Try to get a contract that includes a living allowance but not one that supplies living quarters (supplied apartments are often small and uncomfortable). When you arrive in China, you should stay in a hotel for a few nights while looking for apartments. Your school should provide you with a ride and an agent who will help you pick the perfect place for you. Don’t make the mistake of rushing into a place, find one you like and make sure you will be comfortable for the duration of your stay. In big cities like Shanghai, small one bedroom places can be as much as 3500 RMB but outside of the major cities you should be able to find a nice apartment (around 80 square meters) for as little as 2000 RMB. Your apartment should be clean, modern and fully furnished. The apartment in China usually includes kitchen, air-conditioning, fridge, sofa and bed.
10: Will the school help me get settled in China?
This is an important question that you should ask your potential employer during the interview process. Ensure that there is a good welfare program (foreign teacher help) at the school. Good schools will have designated welfare officers who are simply people who are employed to help the foreign staff. Not all schools will have this type of amazing aid, but ensure that your school offers you some sort of help, at least when you first arrive.
You will need to help finding a place, setting up utilities, buying a cell phone and getting to know your new city. There should be someone at the school to help you do these things once you arrive.
Date: 28/04/2014 08:48
Author: Jody Zhou
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