4 Quick Tips for Teaching English in China
China is one of the best countries to find a high paying ESL job. There is a demand for teachers – meaning you won’t have a problem finding a job and you’ll be able to find a position that fits your needs.
Whether that’s living in bustling metropolitan cities like Shanghai or quieter second-tier cities like Chengdu, there is the teaching job of your dreams out there.
But before you start hitting up those online job boards or speaking to recruiters, here are some tips to keep in mind that will help during your time teaching abroad in China.
1. Become a certified TEFL or CELTA teacher
If one of your goals is to save money while teaching abroad, it pays to get certified.
Not only will it be a lot easier finding a high paying job, but you’ll be able to apply for a work visa and residence permit legally.
Usually, your school will file for your Z visa before you leave your country and it will be sent to your Chinese consulate.
Upon collection, you’ll be asked for proof of your tertiary education, your passport and TEFL or CELTA certificate.
2. Deal with Experienced Recruiters
It’s important to speak to the experts, and that’s likely to be either a direct employer’s recruitment division (like Saxoncourt who hires for Shane English Schools) or an outside recruiter.
Because working with someone who knows the ESL landscape in China can help you find a position that meets your needs.
A recruiter can help to ensure you will get the benefits and salary advertised, alleviating the stress of navigating contract negotiations with a language barrier and through the internet.
Finally, China has complex requirements for work permits and other documentation, so a certain level of expertise is necessary to navigate the legal process.
3. Overcome the language barrier
While you don’t need to speak Chinese to qualify for a TEFL position, you will need some planning to survive the first few months.
Before you leave:
- Download a language learning app like Duolingo to start learning the basics.
- Download the Pleco translation dictionary app.
- If you have dietary requirements, find out the Chinese word and write it down on flash cards to show servers at restaurants.
4. Prepare for a different workplace culture
The main difference between China’s workplace culture to other parts of the world is its rigid hierarchy.
Authority is always correct – no matter what.
Guanxi is also another concept you should be familiar with before arriving in China. The concept is about building strong professional relationships over time.
If you boss or coworkers invite you over for dinner, say yes as it’s an easy way to build guanxi. Also if you are given gifts be sure to accept them with a smile and never politely refuse, otherwise, you will lose face.
Hopefully, these quick tips will help you feel more comfortable with teaching abroad in China. While it can be a culture shock at first – it certainly won’t be an experience you’ll forget!
About the Author
Lauren Melnick is a South African travel blogger and ESL teacher currently living in Ubon, Thailand. When she isn’t making lesson plans and watching nursery rhymes on YouTube, you can find her eating up a storm, taking selfies with dinosaurs, and planning her next adventure.