As a foreign worker in China, one of the easiest areas to get a job is trying to teach foreign languages in China. However, over 90% of job offers in the language field involve teaching English.
China offers excellent opportunities for English teachers in public and private educational institutions with excellent salaries. Until recently, non-native English speakers could teach English. Now the situation has become more complicated, and in the main cities (Beijing, Shanghai) only native speakers are increasingly sought. However, in smaller cities it is still possible to teach without a native speaker. Because in any case, a Westerner, even if he is not a native speaker, is preferred to a Chinese teacher.
If you are interested in this type of activity, you can contact one of the schools approved by the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) and inquire with them. It must be said that despite the high demand for teachers with competitive salaries, it is not easy for teachers to obtain the Z visa that will allow them to work legally in China.
So there are many people who teach illegally while in possession of a tourist or business visa, and occasionally someone is caught and expelled from the country. As for the required prerequisites, although the official rules are dictated by SAFEA, in practice each school behaves independently and requires different certifications: TEFL, degree, previous teaching experience, etc. The more qualifications you can show, the easier it will be to get a work visa
A few years ago, an acquaintance of mine found a job offer on the Internet as an English teacher in China, posted by an agency that was looking for teachers for various schools. He had a good command of English, as he had also lived in England for a while, but he had no special qualifications. After the initial interviews on Skype, he was invited to apply for a visa and travel to China (at his own expense). On the spot, he did a video interview that was sent to several schools, and within a few weeks he had already found a job in a city of 300,000 people 700 km from Beijing. He then had to return to Italy (again at his own expense) to apply for a work visa, which can only be applied for outside China.
At the Chinese consulate in Milan, he was granted a work visa based on his employment contract with the school. Upon his return to China, he immediately began teaching at the institute, but during the 30 days required to obtain the work and residence permit, he was not allowed to leave the school to prevent anyone from learning of his irregular situation.
Speaking of language, he had no knowledge of Chinese, and there were only a couple of teachers in the institute who knew a little English and acted as intermediaries for all his needs. The working hours were 12 hours per week at a salary of $700 per month, plus room and board.
After about 6 months, seeing the extremely boring life in the countryside and looking for other job opportunities, he got a job in a kindergarten in Beijing, but the institution where he worked did not receive him well. They tried to hold him back in every way possible, and even threatened that he would be expelled if he left the school. His contract was for one year, and he had no right, in their opinion, to unilaterally terminate the employment relationship. Anyway, by hook or by crook, he left. The new job was so much better.
He lived in Beijing, a city that has a lot to offer, and also the economic aspect was better, since he signed directly with the structure and not through an agency. He received a salary of about $2,000 for 40 hours a week, of which only about 5 or 6 were teaching hours, the rest was used for class preparation or other activities. In any case, he had to return to Italy to the Chinese Consulate in Milan to obtain the new work visa.
A few weeks after his return to China, when the process of applying for a new work permit was still underway, a police check arrived at the school. Thanks to a tip from the previous institution, which had informed the Immigration Department. After a night in jail, she got off with a fine of $600. The next two years of work went without problems, but then he was seized by homesickness and decided to leave China.
I wanted to report on this experience so that those who choose to do so may also be aware of the negative aspects that can sometimes be hidden behind these job offers from agencies recruiting foreign teachers for schools in China. Especially in quite remote places where few foreigners want to go.
Also find out who has to pay the costs (air tickets, first accommodation, transfers). How to obtain the visa (do you have to return to your home country or not). About the duration and the possibility to terminate the work contract. In short, clarify all aspects before leaving and/or signing the contract to avoid unpleasant surprises later. In addition, schools often cannot hire foreign staff and therefore offer to work illegally with a tourist or business visa. So pay attention to this aspect as well.
Native speakers should also keep in mind that there is also the possibility of voice recordings in different languages for assistance and voice recognition programs such as Cortana, Siri or others. Demand in Beijing or other major cities is high. The fees are around $20/30 per hour.
To obtain a work visa as an English teacher and thus legally work in China, you must have a passport from one of the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. You will also need a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate. Therefore, for non-native speakers, the only jobs available are at smaller schools that will offer you work even on a student or tourist visa, or ask you for a business visa. These jobs are completely illegal, but many do. To have a better chance of getting a job, a TEFL certificate, which can also be obtained online, is essential. The cost is $300-400 and in a little over a month you can get the certificate.
Websites for teaching English in China
Here are the websites where it is easier to find offers for these jobs:
- Hired, agency with job offers, not only in the teaching area
- AnEsl, agency with job offers in the teaching sector
- Thebeijinger, online newspaper in English, with a classifieds section
- Panda Teacher, website with various job offers
- Weechat, which includes the functions of whatsapp and facebook. Where you can find this kind of offers in the corresponding groups
- Echinajobs, contains many offers as English teacher
- Oxfordseminars, directory which contains the list of all English schools in China
If you want to have all the information about how to work in China, I recommend you to read the article: Working in China
If you want to move to China, you can read the article: How to move to China