China, like much of Asia, is undergoing an international education boom. There is huge demand for English schools, language centres and international schools across China. This education boom has resulted in thousands of vacancies for foreign language teachers, and made teaching in China rewarding employment.
Driving China’s international education boom is a recognition of the importance of English language proficiency. As one Chinese parent, Tao Sun, explained to ISC Research ,
‘If you want your child to have many options for world-class universities, and if you want them to survive, thrive and succeed there, then they need to start learning and speaking English as soon as they can. That’s why many families who can afford it, look to schools that provide such an opportunity for their children’
With over 260 million students and 500,000 schools, demand for English teachers in China far outstrips supply. This has made it relatively easy for foreigners with university degrees to be employed as English teachers. Often the only teaching certification that Chinese schools require is a TEFL certification. This qualification can usually be achieved in just 3-4 weeks.
The relative ease with which foreigners can be employed as teachers in China, makes it an excellent place to experience teaching. Many teachers who begin working in China go on to earn internationally recognised teaching qualifications such a PGCE or a degree in education.
Other advantages about teaching English in China include – enthusiastic learners who are very respectful, less pressures than teaching in Europe or North America, and generous salaries which usually afford teachers to live comfortably in China.
There are a number of different types of teaching opportunity in China, with varying duties, responsibilities and rewards. The most common teaching opportunities are found in public schools, private schools, international schools, universities, businesses, language schools and online tutoring academies. Which type of position an individual will be suitable for depends on qualifications, experience and preferences.
Prospective teachers who have internationally recognised teaching qualifications, and experience teaching in their home country, will be able to find employment at international schools. With internationally recognised teaching qualifications; such as a BA/MA in education or a PGCE, teachers can earn salaries of 25,000 RMB per month . The demands and responsibilities for teachers working at international schools are very similar to those required of teachers at schools in Europe or North America. International schools also require teachers to follow the school curriculum which will either be based on the English curriculum, an American curriculum, or the International Baccalaureate curriculum.
For individuals who wish to teach in China, but do not have teaching qualifications from their home country, there are still plenty of opportunities. There is much demand for teachers of English as a second language (ESL) at public schools, private schools, language schools and universities. Salaries for these positions typically range from 8,000 to 16,000 RMD per month. The exact salary will depend on the institution, and how many hours you actually work.
Teachers working at Chinese schools and universities will often be employed to help students improve their fluency skills, comprehension abilities and their pronunciation. This is usually achieved by incorporating a variety of activities and games during lessons. This helps ensure the students have the opportunity to actually practice their communication skills.
There are lots of great ideas for ESL lessons online. It is also a good idea to share ideas with other foreign teachers at your school who will be able to suggest activities which have worked successfully. Teachers groups on WeChat are also a great place to share teaching ideas. These chat groups also have a lot of information about teaching vacancies.
Online teaching has become incredibly popular in China over the past few year. Thousands of students log on each day to practice their communication skills with native English speaking teachers. You don’t need to live in China to teach Chinese students online. Many teachers remain in their home countries while others adopt the digital nomad lifestyle and combine their teaching with travelling. There are hundreds of online English schools, although some are better organised and more rewarding than others. Be sure to shop around before committing yourself to one organisation.
One of the first things to decide is which age group you wish to teach. Are you great with young kids? Singing songs and playing vocabulary games? Or would you be more suited to helping older students writing essays giving speeches and preparing for high-stakes assessments? The next thing, is to get online and start looking at the vacancies available for the type of position you would like.
When considering positions, it’s also important to consider where in China you would like to work. Would you rather be situated in the north of China of the south? In a large urban area or a smaller regional city?
Then, be sure to research your potential employers. Visit their website and get an idea what the school is like. A lot of foreign teachers have blogs about their experiences teaching in China. These can provide very valuable information. Joining a few WeChat teachers groups is also advisable.
Another important step to ensure your experience working in China is successful, is to learn some of the language. Learning Mandarin before you start working in China will help make your transition to life in China that bit smoother. You’ll be able to order food, ask directions and start simple conversations. These things which will make your first few weeks in China that more manageable.