How to Teach English in China: Your Ultimate Guide

David De' Ath

Meet David De’ Ath, founder, editor, and writer at Wonderful World English. With his extensive background as an English teacher, David provides valuable insights and practical tips on ESL for students and teachers alike.

Teaching English in China presents a unique set of opportunities for educators looking to expand their horizons and experience life abroad.

With the country’s booming economy and its people’s increasing interest in learning English, there’s a high demand for qualified English teachers.

The variety of roles spans from teaching young children in public schools to conducting business English classes for professionals.

Nonetheless, navigating the requirements to teach English in China is crucial. Regulations have tightened, demanding teachers to have proper qualifications, such as a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, as well as a work (Z) visa.

Once the eligibility criteria are met, educators can explore a range of teaching jobs that offer varying benefits and salaries.

The remuneration for English teachers in China can be quite competitive, with some positions in private or international schools offering salaries that are considerably higher than the global average for ESL teachers.

Additionally, getting accustomed to living in China provides an enriching cultural experience, with opportunities for professional development and growth within the educational sector.

Teachers should also appreciate access to a wealth of practical resources and support networks that can help them adjust to their new roles and assist in career progression.

Key Takeaways

  • Navigating eligibility requirements is the first step to teaching English in China.
  • English teaching roles in China offer competitive salaries and diverse experiences.
  • Teachers should seek professional growth and supportive communities for a rewarding tenure.
Teach English in China

Requirements for Teaching English in China

Before embarking on a journey to teach English in China, one must be well-informed about the various requirements that need to be fulfilled.

Knowledge of visa regulations, academic qualifications, and cultural understanding are key to ensuring a successful teaching stint in China.

Visa and Work Permit Regulations

To legally teach English in China, obtaining a Z Visa is imperative.

This is the only type of visa that authorizes employment within the country.

The application for this visa necessitates a few critical documents:

  • Valid Passport: Must have at least 6 months remaining before expiration.
  • Completed Application Form
  • Passport Photo: Recently-taken, with a white background.
  • Letter of Invitation: From the employing institution in China.
  • Work Permit: Issued by the Chinese authorities.
  • Health Check: Results from a government-approved clinic.
  • Criminal Background Check: Evidence of no criminal history is required.

Academic and Teaching Qualifications

Educators wishing to engage in teaching in China must meet certain educational standards:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A degree from an accredited university is a non-negotiable requirement.
  • TEFL Certificate: A reputable TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) qualification is often required unless the teacher holds a degree in education.
  • Experience: While not mandatory, having prior teaching experience can be beneficial.

Prospective teachers should note that being a native English speaker from countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia, or the U.K. is frequently preferred by Chinese educational institutions.

Cultural Adaptation and Language

Teachers must be equipped to adapt to the cultural norms and the language barrier in China.

Understanding basic Mandarin can be immensely helpful for day-to-day interactions.

Being culturally sensitive and aware of local customs is vital for a harmonious integration into Chinese society.

It is recommended for expatriates to invest time in learning about the culture and language prior to their arrival in China.

For more insights into TEFL certificates and how you can get your hands on one, check out the guide below!

Related: TEFL Certificates: Your Guide to Teaching English Abroad

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Exploring Job Opportunities and Types of Schools

When considering teaching English in China, prospective educators will find a rich tapestry of opportunities across diverse educational institutions, each with its own requirements and benefits.

Knowing the differences between private and public schools, as well as what international schools and kindergartens offer, is essential for making an informed decision.

Private vs. Public Educational Institutions

Private Schools generally offer higher salaries compared to their public counterparts, in part due to the more stringent qualifications they require, such as a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certification.

They may also provide more flexible curriculums, smaller class sizes, and additional benefits like housing stipends.

On the other hand, Public Schools are typically integrated into China’s national education system, offering more traditional job security and the opportunity to immerse oneself in the local culture.

The requirements to teach in public institutions can vary, but they often include a degree and some level of teaching experience, though not always a TEFL certificate.

International Schools and Kindergartens

International Schools cater to a diverse student body with curriculums often based on foreign education systems.

These positions usually demand the most comprehensive qualifications, including a degree in education and substantial teaching experience.

In return, teachers can expect competitive salaries and often, more comprehensive expatriate packages.

Kindergartens, while varied in their approach, often look for energetic teachers who are passionate about early childhood education.

They require a bachelor’s degree, and prior experience in a kindergarten setting may be advantageous.

Teaching English to very young learners can be rewarding and serves as an integral part of laying the foundation for English language proficiency in China.

If you’re interested in embarking on an adventure of a lifetime teaching in China, click the link below!

Ready for the Adventure of a Lifetime?

Many kindergartens around China are looking for capable English teachers.

Salary and Benefits Information

When considering teaching English in China, the potential teacher should have a clear understanding of the salary range and benefits offered.

Salaries typically range from RMB 12,000 to 45,000 monthly, with various benefits such as housing accommodations and flight reimbursements that can substantively augment the overall compensation package.

Negotiating Your Salary

Negotiating a competitive salary is crucial when teaching English in China.

ESL teachers in international schools can expect to earn between RMB 11,800 and 29,900 per month.

Teachers should leverage their qualifications and experience to negotiate within this range.

Navigating Housing and Accommodations

Most institutions offer free housing or a housing stipend as part of the contract.

It is important for teachers to clarify whether they will receive a private apartment or shared accommodation, and what, if any, utilities are included.

Understanding Additional Perks

Additional perks for English teachers in China often include flight reimbursement, comprehensive health insurance, and sometimes even performance bonuses.

Teachers should inquire about these benefits as they can represent a significant part of the overall compensation package.

The official currency of China is the Chinese Yuan.

Adapting to Life in China

Taking the step to teach English in China means embracing a new lifestyle and cultural environment.

Adapting involves understanding the cost of living in various cities and immersing oneself in the rich Chinese culture.

Cost of Living Throughout Chinese Cities

In China, the cost of living can vary significantly from city to city.

Major metropolitan areas like Shanghai and Beijing are known for their higher living expenses, with rent for a modern one-bedroom apartment in the city center averaging around 7,000-15,000 CNY per month.

Comparatively, cities such as Chengdu and Chongqing offer a more moderate cost, with similar accommodations ranging from 2,000 to 5,000 CNY.

Additionally, cities like Guangzhou and Suzhou present a balance of modern amenities and affordability, with the average cost for essentials like groceries and transportation lying between those of the most and least expensive Chinese cities.

Experiencing Chinese Culture Firsthand

Living in China presents a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, from traditional tea ceremonies to the yearly celebration of the Chinese New Year.

As an English teacher, one has the opportunity to engage with the local population, often resulting in mutual cultural exchange.

Cities like Nanjing hold historical significance, allowing one to explore the ancient past of China, while modern hubs like Hong Kong blend Eastern and Western influences.

Embracing local festivals, foods – like dim sum or hotpot – and practices, such as tai chi in public parks, enhances the understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture significantly.

For more information on the required documents to teach in China, check out the link below!

Related: Documents to Teach in China: Essential Paperwork

Shanghai is one of the most desirable destinations for teachers in China.

Professional Development and Career Growth

When pursuing a career as an ESL teacher in China, educators have numerous avenues for professional development and opportunities for career advancement.

The demand for English teachers is continually growing, making the field competitive but rich with potential for building a robust teaching portfolio.

Building Teaching Experience

Newly minted educators aiming to teach English in China can expect to start in roles that allow them to accumulate invaluable teaching experience.

Initially, these roles might include teaching conversational English or working in after-school programs.

These positions provide a solid foundation in classroom management and curriculum development, both of which are essential skills for an ESL teacher.

  • Foundational Roles: Conversation facilitator, after-school program instructor
  • Key Skills Gained: Classroom management, curriculum design

Advancement Opportunities in ESL

As ESL teachers in China develop their skills and gain more teaching experience, the door opens to a number of advancement opportunities.

ESL teachers may progress to roles such as lead teachers, department heads, or administrative positions within language institutes or international schools.

Such advancements often come with increased responsibilities, including mentoring new teachers and overseeing curriculum development.

With China’s competitive job market for English teachers, those who are dedicated to their professional development can often negotiate for better salaries, benefits, and senior titles.

  • Higher-Level Positions: Lead teacher, department head, educational administrator
  • Responsibilities: Mentorship, curriculum oversight, administrative duties
China offers incredible opportunities to travel and explore new cultures.

Practical Tips and Resources

Teaching English in China involves diligent preparation and a commitment to continuous professional development.

Educators should focus on both the initial steps of arriving and setting up, as well as fostering an environment of growth and community engagement.

Preparation and Arrival Tips

Before boarding the plane, prospective teachers should have a solid lesson planning strategy that aligns with their assigned curriculum.

This preparation includes understanding the basic structure of an English class and being ready to adapt to the educational materials provided by training centers or schools.

It is advisable to begin Mandarin lessons to ease daily living and interactions.

While not a requirement, knowing key phrases in Mandarin will be invaluable during the first few weeks of adaptation and can help in building rapport with both students and colleagues.

Upon arrival, connection with experienced teachers or recruiters can lead to insights about living and teaching in China.

These contacts are often found through teaching forums or local expat communities.

Engaging with them can answer many FAQs you might have about settling in.

Continuous Learning and Networking

The journey does not stop after arrival; teachers should invest in ongoing training to enhance their teaching methods. 

Techniques in curriculum development can be refined through professional workshops and shared resources within the teaching community.

Networking plays a crucial role in continuous learning. 

Teachers should seek out local meet-ups, professional associations, or online groups with an interest in TEFL. 

Formal and informal events can provide novel teaching strategies and offer support throughout your teaching career in China.

For some awesome insights into why teaching in China can be an excellent move, click the link below!

Related: Why Teach in China: Uncovering the Benefits

Students of all ages are waiting for their next English teacher in China!


Teaching English in China stands as a compelling pathway for educators aiming to broaden their professional scope while immersing themselves in an enriching cultural experience.

The process involves a thorough understanding of the prerequisites, such as acquiring the necessary academic credentials and a TEFL certificate and navigating the visa application process to ensure compliance with Chinese regulations.

Opportunities abound in various educational settings, from bustling city schools to more intimate rural classrooms, each offering a unique glimpse into China’s diverse educational landscape.

Salaries and benefits are competitive, reflecting the high demand for English education and providing teachers with a comfortable standard of living while allowing them to explore the vast cultural richness of China.

Adapting to life in China goes beyond the classroom, encompassing a deep dive into the country’s traditions, language, and daily life, enriching the teaching experience with personal growth and intercultural understanding.

Professional development is a continuous journey, with myriad opportunities for career advancement and skill enhancement, ensuring that educators contribute to their students’ learning and evolve in their teaching careers.

In essence, teaching English in China is not just a job; it’s an adventure that promises personal growth, professional development, and an unparalleled cultural journey, making it an attractive option for educators from around the globe.

We hope you find value in this information; you can contact us if you require any support.

Have a wonderful day!

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