Why and How to Teach English in China

Teach English in China

Why teach in China?

Have you ever dreamed of immersing yourself in a different culture, really getting to know life in a foreign land? Teaching in China offers an opportunity to live abroad, not as a tourist, but to partake of the fascinating culture and bustling daily life of one of the world’s oldest civilizations. English teachers are in high demand in the mainland, so you can live your dream while earning a salary that will allow you to travel, save, and enjoy a good standard of living, all while building your resume.

Abundant job opportunities

Studies published by Cambridge University Press estimate that there are between 250 million and 350 million English learners in China. While many Chinese study English, often their proficiency level is not high. Teaching is a respected profession in China, and Chinese parents are eager to have their children take classes with fluent English speakers.

Do I need to speak Chinese to teach in China?

Most schools have English-speaking management or staff prepared to help you get adjusted and settled in your new life. Some workplaces offer foreign teachers basic Chinese lessons as part of the perks of the job. While it will definitely help make daily life smoother and more enjoyable if you pick up some of the local language, you can easily make use of free phone apps to help you translate everyday spoken conversations and written text. In the classroom, students expect to be immersed in the language, and part of the fun of the job is finding creative ways to communicate with your students. Also, many schools for very young children provide English-speaking classroom assistants.

What kind of salary and benefits can I earn as a teacher in China?

Teacher salaries in China can be competitive, depending on teacher qualification and experience. Also, as expenses are much lower than in western countries, you should be able to save significantly.

Chinese cities are divided by tiers, with the most developed first-tier cities offering the highest pay scale between RMB 18,000 (US $2800) and 28,000 (US $4300) per month or higher, depending on the type of school, as well as teacher experience. While the lesser-developed, lower- tier cities pay less, they can offer other advantages, such as a slower pace of life, much lower living expenses, a more traditional cultural experience, and, at times, more flexible visa requirements. Lower-tier cities generally offer salaries between RMB 8000 (US $1300) and 14,000 (US $2200).

In addition to salary, some schools and training centers offer the following perks: free housing or housing allowance; completion of contract bonus; health or accident insurance; reimbursement of airfare; paid vacation; sick leave; sponsored trips. These types of benefits should be negotiated individually with each school, as they can differ substantially from place to place.

What types of teaching jobs are there in China?

The demand for English language learning in China means that there is something for everyone:

  1. Private Kindergartens

    If you love young children, private kindergartens usually pay well and offer good opportunities for newer ESL teachers. Classes often stress speaking, games, and working together with students on art or drama projects, while exposing them to English.

  2. Public Primary and Middle Schools

    English is a required subject in Chinese schools, so if you prefer working with children above kindergarten age, public schools offer systematic programs with a set curriculum. Though public schools do not usually pay as well as private schools and kindergartens, the daytime hours and weekends off suit those who like a consistent schedule.

  3. Children’s After-school Training Centers

    Teachers with outgoing personalities who enjoy fast-moving classes and working with a variety of different ages will find after-school centers appealing. Depending on the center, some classes may enroll children as young as 2 or 3 years, while others focus primarily on elementary through middle school students. Children learn English through games, songs and speaking practice, often with interactive courseware, all made to supplement the more rote public school curriculum. While training centers generally pay more competitively than public schools, they often require more flexible hours, such as working evenings or weekends, with time off taken during the week.

  4. International Schools

    If you are licensed to teach in your home country, you will receive the highest salary and benefits at international schools, which offer top-notch working environments and benefits. If you don’t have licensure however, teaching English to non-native speakers in international schools usually only requires a degree and TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification, along with prior teaching experience.

  5. Adult Training Centers

    These centers cater to adults hoping to hone their speaking and writing skills for work or travel, or to students hoping to study in universities abroad, who must pass the required IELTS or TOEFL exam. If you enjoy helping people achieve career and life goals, working at these centers may suit you. Classes are usually held in the evenings or on weekends.

  6. Public Universities, Vocational Schools and Technical Schools

    Though teachers in public higher education are generally paid less than those who work with young children, the working hours are much less demanding, and personal expenses on campus are minimal. Public university teachers usually receive free housing and utilities, low-cost meals, health insurance, end-of-contract bonus and flight reimbursement. Additionally, the jobs offer long winter and summer breaks, so you can enjoy traveling and exploring China in between semesters.

  7. Online Teaching

    During the COVID-19 crisis, online English teaching blossomed in China. Companies such as VIPKid and SayABC, among others, continue to offer good work opportunities. Most teachers work remotely from outside China, though the time difference makes the job more suitable for night owls if you are based in the western hemisphere. Pay rates can vary greatly between companies, but an hourly rate of between US $9 to $22 per hour, or more, is common, along with the possibility of perks and bonuses.

What are the requirements to teach in China?

Teaching in China requires a Z visa and work permit. To qualify you will need the following:

  • A Bachelor’s degree or higher, in any subject. Your diploma will be authenticated by the Chinese embassy in your home country when you submit your visa application. It is not possible to work legally in China without a Bachelor’s degree, so if you encounter any recruitment agencies promising you a Z visa without a degree, steer a wide berth.
  • Native English fluency and to hold a passport from one of following countries: USA; Canada; United Kingdom; Ireland; Australia; New Zealand; or South Africa. Teachers from the Philippines are also allowed to teach English in China, under certain conditions. Prior to 2018, anyone could teach English if they held a Bachelor’s degree or higher from an English-speaking country. Though this rule has since changed, it is not yet uniformly enforced throughout the country. Much depends on the policies of local authorities, and your recruiting agency should advise you on the matter. Non-native speakers who hold a Master’s degree or higher, or who have majored in education or English, increase their chances of work permit approval in some areas.
  • A minimum of two years teaching experience, or a TEFL/TESL certificate. Many areas waive teaching experience if you have certification. Some work places require both experience and a certificate.
  • A clean criminal background check issued by your home country.

You are only allowed to legally work at the address of the school or company where your work permit is issued. However, some cities are now allowing teachers to take on additional part-time employment at other locations. Shanghai has recently begun such a program, and while it is not yet common, it is expected to become a growing trend in the country due to teacher shortages.

How do I find teaching work in China?

The majority of job seekers find work by searching:

  • Popular job boards such as ESLbase, Dave’s ESL Café
  • Online recruitment agencies such as Echo Education, Teachaway, Gold Star Teachers.
  • Job sites such as eChinacities, Indeed, Jooble
  • Teacher Job groups on the phone app Wechat, which are usually city-specific
  • International schools, or public universities, and applying directly by email

Always research thoroughly any school or agency you are thinking of signing up with, and beware of agencies charging teachers a fee for placement – legitimate companies won’t do this.

Where can I work in China? What are the different regional factors to consider?

China is a big country with a variety of climates, cuisines and languages. The south of the country is green year-round, hot and humid, and Cantonese is widely spoken. The north of China has four seasons, snowy winters, and Mandarin is the main language. The east has scenic coastlines and bustling port cities, the southwest has spicy cuisine and breathtaking mountains; there is truly something for everyone here.

China has over a hundred cities with a population of one million or more, so the demand for English teachers is high everywhere.

If salary is a deciding factor, the long-established first-tier cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Shenzhen offer the highest pay scale, but usually the highest living expenses and the strictest hiring requirements. Newly established first-tier cities, such as Chengdu, Chongqing and Hangzhou, also pay well, have lower living expenses, and are sometimes more flexible in hiring practices.

While many lower-tier cities may be less rigid when it comes to hiring, several provinces have recently introduced stricter policies to ensure schools do not falsely claim a teacher is a native speaker. For instance, Guangxi province (major city: Nanning) now requires schools to publicly display work permit information that parents can verify with a QR code scan. Guangdong province (major cities: Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Dongguan, and Foshan) also requires similar information to be publicly displayed.

Wherever you choose to work in China, you are sure to expand your horizons and bring home memories that will last a lifetime.

Jeanne Riether

Jeanne Riether

Jeanne is an American author, humanitarian worker and teacher who has lived and worked in Asia for many years. She is a co-founder of the Healing Young Hearts Project, creating materials and training volunteers to conduct emotionally supportive activities with children in local communities, hospitals, orphanages and schools, as well as disaster zones. Her publications have been used by UNICEF, the International Red Cross, and other international volunteer groups assisting children in disaster zones in China, Haiti and Nepal; tsunami recovery work in Chile; and in other international child-help programs. She was nominated for Tianjin’s 2017 Haihe Friendship Award for contributions to China’s social development. You can connect with her through her website at jeanneriether.com


Teacher training courses in China
Teaching jobs in China
English language schools in China

29 comments and teachers' experiences of China

Note - Some of these experiences were shared before the article above was written

  1. Andy

    China is a wonderful country and the people are nice also. I have been living and teaching in China for over four years. Much business is done by relationships, it’s who you know, not what you know! Leave your own country’s idealisms behind and you will do fine. Learn about the people and the culture. Do not try and impose your couture on others. One other thing, carry wet wipes and toilet paper at all times. If you teach, chose your terms, a short contract, say 4 to 6 months. This allows you time to look around and see how you like the location, school etc. Enjoy yourself and have a safe trip: andyesl.com

  2. Emma

    If you’re not used to roughing it, get work in a city like Dalian, Shanghai or Beijing. It’s really beautiful. Another reasonably modern and safe city is Anshan. Be prepared for a fair bit of pollution, a lack of modesty and hygiene (except for Dalian) and (in the smaller cities) very friendly, curious locals. Overall the Chinese experience is wonderful. Try and get with a well-established reputable foreign language school and ask for contact with other English teachers within that school before you go. I really enjoyed my 3 month trip to China but I’m not sure how I would have faired any longer than that :) Pre-study in the Chinese language is invaluable during your time here. Good luck if you decide to come to China!

  3. Moses

    I often work with students from varied ethnic, racial, and religious backgrounds. With growing minority populations in most parts of China, it is important for teachers to work effectively with a diverse student population. Accordingly, some schools offer training to help teachers enhance their awareness and understanding of different cultures. Teachers may also include multicultural programming in their lesson plans, to address the needs of all students, regardless of their cultural background.

    Most kindergarten teachers still teach two kindergarten classes a day. I work the traditional 10-month school year with a 2-month vacation during the summer. During the vacation break, those on the 10-month schedule and teach in summer sessions, take other jobs, travel, or pursue personal interests. Those wishing to find teaching work can go about the task in a number of ways. Firstly you can begin before you actually move to China by using the internet to search for suitable vacancies or potential employers. You can also contact local and Chinese, as I do, employment agencies and present them with your CV and covering letter which should details the types of work you’re qualified for and are seeking. Once you move to China you can also make use of the Chinese employment service agency where you’ll find details of jobs available, training courses you’re eligible for etc.

    Once you move you can remain living in China for up to three months so long as you have a valid 10 year passport and are from one of the EEA countries as previously mentioned. After your three months are up, if you wish to remain living and working as an English teacher in China you have to apply for your residency permit. With all your permissions in place you’re free to continue working in China or seeking employment. If you become resident and fully employed in China you will have to pay income tax and for this you will need a tax number which you can get from the local tax office.

  4. Paula

    Read River Town by Peter Hessler. His story is from 1996 and is a different region but I found things are very similar throughout China. Chinese is a hard language but it would really help to know a little of the language. The kids are great but very loud in a group. Materials might be more plentiful in an International school, however in the regular schools they are very limited. Bring some things of your own. I haven’t found any inexpensive colored paper here. Bring a laptop if at all possible. We don’t have a computer for our use at the school. Printers are inexpensive but computers that work come from the US, thus they are no bargain. Bring some warm clothes even in the subtropical areas – the humidity makes it very cool and central heating is rare. The people are the same as worldwide – some are kind and some are inconsiderate. The pollution is a definite problem so stay in the country if you can’t deal with it.

  5. Joe

    Chatting with students is easy, but getting them to speak fluently is another matter. After four years of teaching English in China, I have come up with some useful techniques for practical teaching that really make a difference.

  6. John

    My advice is for those who are intending to teach English at a state middle school away from the coastal cities. I’m a New Zealander and have found winters very cold – bring thick socks and thermals. A few basic medications come in handy – nurofen, aspirin, vicks etc! When you first arrive bring some local currency – I couldn’t access ATM’s with my cards. If you are a reader stock up on novels or whatever as English books are few and far between. Classes are big – sixty plus – resources are few so bring some simple music tapes – most schools don’t have CD players. Also search out some English texts that have games and other classroom activities – they will come in very handy. Make sure you know what the school wants of you as a teacher. The Chinese English teachers are very good at teaching English but are not good at getting the students to use it. I only try to “Activate” the language they already have been taught. You will often be referred to as “The oral English Teacher” at the middle school level and that is usually what they want you to do. Just remember China is not a Western country – be prepared to adapt and be VERY flexible and you will have a wonderful experience.

  7. Dori

    I went to China in 1994 for six months to teach English. I just wish I had taken more American English material as much of the books there were from England with British spelling. I was at a private school which treated me very well. The kids were receptive to everything I threw at them. Be sure to bring enough things from home to take care of you for your time there. Also phone calls were very costly, but times have changed so maybe not now. Relax and just be a good American and I’m sure you’ll be treated fairly.

  8. Rampan

    Learn some Chinese and keep on studying once you’re there especially if you travel alone and travel to smaller places. Not knowing the language can frustrate you and keep in mind that Chinese people are never in a hurry. A very very laid back and relaxed attitude is what you need and that is a personal thing. My advice is only useful if you have the attitude to implement it. Don’t visit hookers. HIV rate is pretty high here. Don’t drink the bai jiu but try the jinjiu!
    Remember: don’t want things done right away and be very patient.

  9. Pam

    I have been in China for 3 years. I would like to point out that if you are looking for an apartment. Take your time and get some help. I see too many get an apartment right away and it is too expensive. Remember you are the foreigner and they think we are all rich! Guys be careful on dating the chinese women. They get attached really fast and serious. Unless you understand this you need to tell them of your intentions and still they will want to get married. They are not like foreign women. The hygiene here is terrible! Some don’t bath for weeks they only wash. The people with money have a better habit of hygiene. Wash your hands regularly! Enjoy all the history and sites while you are here. Buy some books like The Mandarin Phrasebook, it is a great help with some Chinese translation and information. It’s one of the best ones I have found so far. And I have a few!… enjoy yourself!

  10. Dingbat

    My wife, son, and I have been living and working in China for at least 7 years now, 6 years in Tianjin (near Beijing), and 1 year in Taiwan. A VERY important skill is being able to communicate in Chinese. If you come here and you can’t, you’ll most likely be constantly cheated in one way or another. Plus, you’ll be so frustrated all the time from not knowing what’s going on around you. Actually, that can have it’s good side, because when you DO understand what the people around you are saying, you might end up at the police station for punching someone in the face. (Believe it or not, I haven’t done that, yet)

    If you’re overweight or black, be prepared for the impolite treatment you will also most likely receive. George is one of our black African friends. He told us that he is treated rudely all the time. And he is studying medicine and working at an intern in one of the hospitals here.

    Be prepared for dirt, pollution, and a severe lack of personal hygeine. If you hate pollution, stay away from all of the big cities. And dirt is EVERYWHERE! You must get used to the spitting. They spit everywhere, even on the restaurant floors. Hospitals are very unsanitary. Cockroaches crawl around on the operating and delivery tables. No lie. Wash your hands all the time and carry wet wipes and toilet paper with you. It’s a terrible thing to get stuck in a Chinese toilet with no toilet paper. And don’t be surprised if you see someone whip their pants down and start peeing on the sidewalk.

    Bring winter underwear. In the northern part of China, winters are usually dry, windy, and very cold. The wind cuts through the bone. In the mid section of China, winters are very cool and wet. The cool dampness sinks into your bones.

    The Chinese think that foreigners are rich, especially Americans. Whatever price they tell you, cut it down by 60 to 70% and offer them that.

    Chinese don’t have the work ethics some of us Westerners have been brought up with, so you can’t expect too much out of them. They might do the job and they might not. They might do it right and they might not. And they typically don’t want to assume any responsibility for anything that might go wrong or has gone wrong. They are also not in a hurry, so if you are, you’re going to be angry again. They don’t know how to wait in lines, so don’t get to upset about that. If you know Chinese, you can openly talk to them about how to stand in line and wait your turn.

    They typically don’t have the idea that lying, cheating, and stealing are wrong. So, if you have a very high standard in these areas, you’re going to be upset again.

    Be careful of taxi drivers taking you around Robin Hood’s barn to get you somewhere. If they give you trouble, get out your notebook and pencil and start writing down his/her license plate number and other information. Tell him/her that you’re going to call the police and that usually takes care of that.

    When renting an apartment off of campus, PLEASE remember these things: First, you MUST find the local police department in the location where you are moving and notify them that you are moving there, in writing. Then move. Then you have 10 days to take your rental contract, passport, and 2 photos to that same police station and REGISTER. This is Chinese law and if you do not do this, they will bite your bottom good.

    When renting an apartment off campus, check with local Chinese friends to see what kind of rent you should really be paying. They will try to charge you twice what other people pay and make SURE to have a Chinese friend help you with the contract. The landlord should pay the tax on the rent. Don’t let them bully you around. If you use a real estate company to help you, again, be careful. We even went to an internationally-known real estate agency here to get help finding an apartment. We thought, “Oh, look, we know that agency! It’s from America!” The name was from America, but that was all. The people there cheated us terribly and even cheated our landlord terribly. Several months later, we found out that the Tianjin branch CEO had that branch owner thrown in prison here because they were cheating so many people.

    Be VERY leary of job placement agencies that are not under the direct control of the local government. It is common knowledge here that many of the private ones are run by crooks and hooligans. Some of them offer services such as creating false education credentials to making fake passports.

    Also, take the monthly salary and figure out what the amount is per class. If the school is supplying you with an apartment and you are a bonafied English teacher, don’t accept anything less than 80 yuan per class. If you are getting your own private apartment and you are a bonafied English teacher, don’t accept anything less than 100 to 120 yuan per class. These amounts should be even higher for cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and ShenZhen. And stay away from any schools that try to make you teach more than 20 to 25 classes per week, plus sit in the office, plus do extra-curricular activites, etc, etc. and only offer you 4,000 to 5,000 yuan per month… unless you want to be their dog.

    HIV is a big, (supposed-to-be-a-secret) problem here. Beware.

    Well, I’ve said all that I’ve said, but, let me tell you one more thing… China has to be experienced to be believed. I’m sure there isn’t another place on earth like it. If there is, we’re all in trouble. :-)
    Oh, did I mention that the food is wonderful!!!?

    • Shanghai Guy

      80rmb per class?! I get paid 800 for 90 minute class… in private tutoring. and 270 per class from my school.

  11. Greg

    I’d like to suggest a valuable resource for this page on living and teaching in China. The name of the website is Middle Kingdom Life and it is a not-for-profit educational website offering the comprehensive Foreign Teachers’ Guide to Living and Teaching English in China located at middlekingdomlife.com. The guide is the culmination of over two year’s worth of work and it is updated frequently. I believe anyone who is thinking about teaching English in China will find it to be very useful.

  12. PJ Senior

    Sure, you could read all the negative comments about China and decide it’s not for you, that you wouldn’t cope with the spitting or smoking or the food, or that maybe Japan or Korea might be a better choice as they’re more developed. You could decide that you think you’ll give teaching a try next year, that this year you’ll concentrate on some other things, and so you’ll stay at home, stay in your boring job, daydreaming about doing something exciting. Orrrrrrr you could decide to just take a chance. Save up a little money first, do a teaching qualification (4 weeks max), get online and research the history, language and culture of China, and then make that dream become reality by flying out here and becoming one of the few people that can say I lived in China. Who knows, like me, you might come here for just one year, but fall in love with the place, end up staying much longer, and see your life change in so many wonderful directions. All I’m saying is give it a try!

  13. Nathan

    Living in Beijing now for 5 years, it’s been a great adventure so far. Lots of history, lots of surprises, and a very different culture and people. My advice to anyone looking to come here for 1 years is to buy an electric bike. It’s been a lifesaver getting to and from classes without passing through the horrendous Beijing traffic. It is also a great way to see and experience the city. Beijing has a lot of dedicated electric bike lanes, but i’m not sure about the other big cities. I thought electric biking through Beijing was so practical that I wanted to share it with newcomers, so I started Beijing Electric Bike Tours. It’s a great way to familiarize yourself with Beijing in a half day or full day tour. All the historical sites on a fun, comfortable, environmentally-friendly electric bike. http://www.bjebiketours.com

  14. James

    Chinese people can seem horrible and cannot offer real friendship, it is very selfish, the way people act towards each other is the hardest thing about living in China. People push to get in a lift before you get out, students in uni will just ignore you and play with their phones, people do not wash very often and use soap and people worship money a lot. Also student do not know how to think and be creative they are used to just being told what to do and think, you will need to bring your own teaching materials! The second hardest thing is the fake and unsafe food. You only have to read about China outrages online or milk, re-used cooking oil baby food stories ect. or even hit and run stories to see lack of law also good in China are not cheap there is high tax here and a high amount of violence it is not a real crime to fight here, you only get 5 days in jail for serious fights, or you just pay 500 some compensation. they love fighting. But if you can get used to ignoring locals and being more of a clown than an English teacher you will can find a lot of work, but anyone that stays here for along time must really hate their own country because most Chinese want to leave.

  15. Redskippy

    You should take my advice and avoid this place at all costs. Luoding is disgusting. If you see anyone smiling then take a photo. What you will see is lots of people spitting everywhere and cooking dogs on the road. They hate foreigners and you will be treated as such. In fact they hate everyone. Many shopkeepers will refuse to serve you just because you are a foreigner. The streets are full of rubbish and human waste. The choice of food is minimal. Pork, duck, dogs, cats, bats and that’s all. If you value personal hygiene then this place is not for you. You will have great difficulties trying to purchase soap at the supermarket because the vast majority do not sell it. I walked 4 km to a supermarket that sells soap, passing 6 other supermarkets along the way that do not sell it. Forget about coffee, deodorant and chocolate!!

    Winter is cold and your room is very cold. There is no heating. The water and electricity are constantly off and the internet is even worse. You will be supplied with a computer from the 1990’s and if you have problems with the computer, and you will, then the computer technician will come to help you. He will arrive at your room with a very large screwdriver and a cloned copy of windows xp, apparently a large screwdriver and a window xp disc fixes everything. He will then sit in front of your computer not knowing what to do and just hit right click refresh, right click refresh, right click fresh for the next 20 minutes. They are obsessed with right click refresh.

  16. Kat

    Shanghai is a pretty good place to live. It’s very modern and you can get pretty much everything you want/need these days. (I just bought vegan cream cheese of all things.) Chinese people are generally friendly and polite, but they do have some habits that can be off-putting for people who aren’t used to adapting to other cultures (spitting, children defecating in public, etc.). You just have to remember that in their culture, keeping mucus in is considered a bad thing, and the average Chinese is horrified at the concept of making their infant wear a diaper and sit in his own poop.

    Avoid the language schools if you’re actually qualified and have experience as they’ll work you to the bone and pay you like crap. Try to get work in one of the International schools as they pay better and expect fewer hours.

    Be prepared to bargain for everything, including your rent. But keep an open mind. Remember that you make a lot of money in comparison to the average local. Spending your time being paranoid about paying a bit extra for fake Gucci glasses will just lead to unnecessary resentment.

    Taxi drivers in Shanghai are super honest, but they don’t always know where they are going. It is best to have the address in Chinese printed out if you don’t know how to give directions.

    Learn the language. Just learning the basics will make your life so much easier. Talk to taxi drivers–they love giving impromptu lessons in pronunciation and tones. Also, make a Chinese friend as soon as possible. They will be an invaluable resource with translating for you at first and eventually becoming your conversation teacher. Chinese are proud of their language, and will happily speak it with foreigners who want to practice even if their own English is quite good.

    Get a vpn so you can visit all the blocked websites.

    Bring your own deodorant and hair care products. The good brands are quite expensive here and the deodorant doesn’t work.

  17. Jesse

    My advice…never work in a Chinese high school! The buildings have no heating or air-con, the pay is low and toilets are not fit for animals. Open pipe with no privacy, and the person next to you can see your head and you will want to stand up stream or you will see his stuff sliver past as you squat and that is in shanghai.

    The students will want you to tell them the question, then write it for them, then they will want you to tell them the the answer and write it for them, they cannot think and are very lazy and are about as talkative as a fish.

    What did you do last weekend? Nothing. Where did you go? I stayed at home. What did you do at home? Nothing. Nothing? Yer nothing i slept? What are your dreams? I have none? If you could visit any place in the world where world you go? I would go home and sleep.

    They will suck the life out of you the are so rude ignorant and boring. As soon as i finish my contract i am gone! and once you have contract if they do not give you a reference letter you cannot work in China again.

    The social life in Shanghai is like that of an Arab country there is no social life or nightlife except hostess bars – brothels with fake whiskey.

    • Shanghai Guy

      I can’t wait for you to go.. I have had completely the opposite experience with high school students in Shanghai who happen to have funny personalities once they are comfortable. I guess it depends on the expat teacher they get… seems yours got the bad one.

  18. Paul

    China is interesting but you have to have a very think skin. Chinese people are very rude and very selfish. Everything here is about face, even marriage is not about love. It’s sad because this country is very beautiful and the people are friendly.

    If you work in a university, do not work for less than 6000. 5000 is just for the advert but you can ask for more. It is normal to negotiate here, and ask about salary in the first interview. You never fail an interview in China unless you are black.

    Don’t teach 25 hours a week anywhere in China for less than 10,000. High schools pay 15,000 but it’s hell. You just stand up and give a speech, like a dancing monkey.

    • Shanghai Guy

      kindergartens pay better.. I get 40,000.

  19. Jen

    Agreed with the majority of the above! Currently teaching English in Baoji, Shaanxi Province and I absolutely love it.

    Starting with the negatives, my main issue is how disorganised Chinese schools can be, and many teachers lack communication (I teach in four different kindergartens and the situation is generally the same in each); schedules will change last minute and if kids aren’t improving nobody will take responsibility and try to blame everyone else. The kids themselves however are fantastic. They are very quick learners and all love to participate in any activity which is great to see – at such a young age I would expect learning English from scratch to be a very daunting experience but they all try extremely hard. Another negative is the lack of personal hygiene; people will urinate in the streets, spit on pavements, smoke in restaurants, and it is strongly advised to carry a packet of tissues or roll of toilet paper everywhere you go, as these are rarely provided in public toilets! Nevertheless, as negative as the above may seem, it is all a part of China’s endearing culture and you will quickly grow accustomed to their quirks.

    Baoji is a smaller Chinese city relatively close to Xian so we as Brits definitely have celebrity status. There are less than 10 of us westerners living in the city. Although most of the locals are polite, there is little concept of what is socially acceptable; one Chinese teacher for instance said to my friend ‘you are so fat!’ (he isn’t, but not hard to be larger than the locals with their tiny frames), and, as many will agree, a lot of things are simply to keep up appearances. For example, although me and my friend do not start teaching until 9am, we are required to arrive at each kindergarten at 7.30am just to greet parents as they bring their children to school. Locals are also obsessed with marriage and having babies; this is the be-all and end-all. I am single and locals are very keen to ‘find me a Chinese husband’.

    If experiencing a completely different culture is for you, and you are resilient and tolerant of a lot of last-minute changes and chaos, then China is definitely the place to be! Beautiful architecture, fantastic food, and interesting locals. Highly recommended.

  20. Mitah

    Been in Liaoning for over 2 years and I’ve had many amazing experiences I never thought of doing before. Think very carefully though, since it’s a country with a different culture and mindset, such as love, work ethics, and school as mentioned. Most of the locals I’ve met are kind, funny, and generous. Many of the students I’ve encountered are quick, clever, moreso funny, and can be sweet. Their food can be addictive, so watch out for your tummies. I live in a small but growing town and it can be slow at times, but it’s definitely more peaceful that the big cities. Their dogs are super cute too :D. Language is a major must to get around, although my hearing in Chinese improved over speaking… oops. Even asking how much and knowing the numbers and basic greetings and questions are a good start. Another interesting thing I like about teaching is that thus far I’ve taught ages 2 to 46 and can be flexible teaching-wise as to what class I have, moreso primary and middle school kids. I’ve also learned so much more about China than I ever could back in the US and their biased media.

    Whatever dirt and garbage I saw… uh, so what? I actually liked their garbage bin system since it’s free while back home it costs monthly to sort out and throw out trash. There were small trash piles once inna while, but I just walk on. I do feel bad if told it was okay to throw my empty bottle on the ground.

    The few negatives I’ve had include constant miscommunications, NOISE, and last last minute changes. I’ve handled them well, but on long days they can be a struggle. Also sometimes if you’re a certain skin color, you will be favored more than others, and some children’s parents will bring this up with your employers. I’m American born and raised, but I’m ethnically Filipino, so I’m often mistaken as a local Chinese even when I’m totally not. It discouraged me a few times, but I know for sure that most of my students genuinely enjoy talking (and improving!!) and playing with me; those alone gets me cheered up and going.

    From my experience, if you are interested in Chinese culture and people, love children and students of all ages, and teaching a language while also learning it again yourself, by all means, China is for you!

  21. Ben Noon

    Hi, I work in a school in Guiyang, the capital city of Guizhou province in South West China. I have been working here fore one and a half years and love it. For me the most difficult part of coming here was booking a flight. After that everything fell into place. However i must say that if i did more research and learned a little more Chinese my transition would have been easier but all the same i love it here. To help others like me i set up a guide to setleing into teaching in China called http://www.ChinaTEFLer.com . I hope the awesome travel pics and stories there can help persuade you to come teach here! :)

  22. Eric

    China has an 8,000 year tradition of subjugation and misery which hasn’t diminished an ounce since becoming the soul-crushing capitalist goliath it is today. That said, it has a truly rich and varied cultural heritage – which was destroyed utterly in the 1970’s during Mao’s ironically-named “cultural revolution.” What remains is a culture lacking in creativity, unaware of the merits of freedom of expression and where everyone’s damned certain they’re going to be rich one day – thus lying to everyone around them until they’ve achieved their goal.

    That was just the good news – because you can make an absolute fortune out here once you learn to stay away from the private training centers and cultivate a crop of private students on your own. The best route, I’ve noticed, is to take a job at a university. While they generally pay low (about $1,000-$1,200 US / month), they also provided you with free, quality housing (+ paid utilities) and only want 12-14 hours of your time per week – which is phenomenal. In the meantime, you can always find private students willing to pay you $20-$30 per hour for private, off-the-books lessons (which is FAR less than they’d pay at a private training center).

    The bad news is that you will find a new reason to be pissed off every 5 minutes. The air is disgustingly polluted, there’s trash everywhere (see: middle ages-caliber sanitation practices), the water is pure poison, people are rude (to eachother, not to foreigners – unless you actually know what they’re saying about you to their friends, in which case, yeah…) and obscenely unhygienic (no one brushes more than once or twice per week and the smell is insanely bad but, evidently, undetectable to them). These are fairly minor things in the grand scheme lf things however. For those of you considering forging an actual life for yourself here, it’s the arcane social structure that will drive you mad.

    Modern, mainland Chinese people have the same, three objectives on their minds at all times: 1.) Provide for parents 2.) Start a family and 3.) Become rich. Meanwhile, no attention whatsoever is paid to things like personal development, art, self-sufficiency, introspection, cultural enrichment or leisure (unless you count KTV [karaoke] and badminton – and I don’t). The result is the world’s most concentrated population of sober, 26-year-old virgins who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t already working 11 hours per day, 6 days per week. This has created one of the laziest, most inefficient work forces in the history of humanity.

    Modern Chinese aren’t unaware of their plight, or the damned sorry positions they’re in. Lacking the creativity to find alternatives to a problem, however, they simply accept their lot begrudgingly, putting forth as little effort as possible in order to make it through the day (a form of silent protest, I assume).

    The good side to this bad side is that the many, aforementioned twenty-somethings who’ve been long starved of any love or attention from the opposite sex (did I mention that they aren’t allowed to date in high school, and are discouraged from doing so in college?) will latch onto you with a ferocity unmatched by the cold fish back home. These are truly some of the sweetest (not to mention most beautiful) women on the planet, and all they want is a little attention, something their local counterparts don’t have the least clue how to give them.

    The bad side to the good side of the bad side is that every woman you so much as smile at is going to want to marry you fairly immediately. In China, people do NOT date for fun. It’s a serious endeavor designed to fulfill a necessary step in the extremely short evolutionary cycle of Chinese adults. The Chinese think of marriage as a decision as necessary but as conversely superficial as buying socks. I’ve had MANY students whose marriages were arranged by their parents, due to the fact that the slim window between the time they could finally begin dating (after college, at 23) and when they’re expected to produce children (around 26 to 27) had somehow closed during the time they were expected to work 11 hours per day, all week long (imagine that).

    In short: At best, you’ll be able to earn a fat wad of cash whilst enjoying the company of a few, loyal expats who you’ll come to regard more as brothers than friends (for your shared experience will be something akin to war). At worst, you’ll come to realize that Chinese society is intolerably short-sighted, unfair, and nothing a responsible person would EVER want to raise a family in.

  23. NOT impressed by the American

    In response to Dori:

    ‘ I just wish I had taken more American English material as much of the books there were from England with British spelling’
    Must’ve been really hard having to teach English in er…English!

    ‘Relax and just be a good American and I’m sure you’ll be treated fairly’
    How did the locals respond to you when you turned up for work each morning dressed in a giant Stars and Stripes before forcing them to consume 6 McMuffins instead of their hilariously foreign and inferior Chinese breakfasts?

  24. Karim

    Upon first contact, they can seem polite and accommodating, but that’s a mask… a type of showmanship. The good news is that they’re physically harmless. No guns, they won’t attack you, stab you, and as bad as many drive, won’t accidentally or otherwise hit you with a car. You can generally push them around and abuse them if you like, but who wants to live around people they can’t share happiness with? The Chinese think that everyone is as fake as they are. Without their egos, they’d be catatonic. For the most part, only babies and young children still have the cognition required to know what they want or don’t want.

    China is probably best enjoyed by those who hate Chinese people. It feels impossible to help them since they lie compulsively, and have so many irritating habits. They refuse to help each other and solve very simple problems for some reason. I think maybe they’re masochists. They try to be rude, cruel, and apathetic thinking it’s a sign of the privilege they live to fake of possessing. You’ll see many older Chinese, if they’re in good health, etc… that have totally grown out of the sorry state I’ve described, and just don’t care to pretend and just want to mind their own business.

    It can be a good choice business-wise if one knows exactly what they want. The Chinese make you work for it. I believe they think non-Chinese are better than them and can eventually just leave, so they seem to haze you as much as possible, but the problem if that there’s never a point when ALL the Chinese know and trust you so it never ends. You never get the letterman or Greek-letter jacket to show you’ve crossed the burning sands, as a foreigner that is. When they become a happier people, this’ll change of course, but they’re not that people today. The Chinese have a chip on their shoulders. It’s all about what other people THINK about them. They have no discipline about doing, achieving, sharing. So if being a good student is cool, they’ll PRETEND to be. If it’s not, they’ll PRETEND not to be. The gifted learn by attacks from the hateful 95% to keep their mouths shut at all times except showtime.

  25. David Robert Whittall

    I have lived and worked in China, for 5 years at 5 different Schools/Colleges/Universities:-

    1) Mianyang Nanshang Bilingual School, in Mianyang, Sichuan – through Sunny’s English Club. Chengdu.
    2) Hunan Railway Professional Technology College, Zhuzhou
    3) Hunan Vocational College of Commerce, LeiFeng Rd, Changsha.
    4) Hunan University of Commerce, on Tong Zippo Avenue.
    5) Hunan University at there North Campus.

    I can no longer work in China with the introduction of this new Integrated Work Permit for Foreigners (which combines the ‘Z- Visa’, with the FEC (Foreign Experts Cerfificate). One needs to obtain a Category ‘B’ Visa as a Foreign Teacher and obtain 60-85 Points and be under Age 60!

    Since I turned 62 on 19th April, I am finished in China. It used to be, Native English Teachers, could work in China until they were age 65 (subject to passing the annual Medical check up).

  26. Tiger

    2021 China Update: As some of you may know, the COVID crisis and the border closures it caused created a huge shortage of QUALIFIED Art, AP, Art, Subject IB, TOEFL, IELTS, and TEFL teachers. This in turn has created the highest salaries ever for foreign teachers in China.

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