China is truly a unique country. It is really rich in culture and history with extremely friendly people eager to embrace us new visitors. While many parts of China could be mistaken as somewhere western such as parts of the big cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, China, not surprisingly, is still very ‘Chinese’.
Some schools/districts can consider applicants who have a Bachelor’s degree from one of these qualifying countries, even if they are not a citizen thereof. For international teaching jobs, a Bachelor’s degree in the given subject is required plus a teaching certification (PGCE, BEd, teaching licence or equivalent) and relevant teaching experience is usually preferred – this will be specified on the job specification on our jobs page.
Applying for a Visa to Teach in China
To qualify to live and work in China, a Foreign Expert Certificate and a Residence Permit are required.
The Foreign Expert Certificate and Residence Permit are applied for with the assistance of your school (employer) once you have arrived in China. In order to apply for them, you will need a Z- Visa, which is generally processed before you travel to China and allows you to live and work in China until the Residence Permit is processed.The Z Visa is a single-entry visa which is valid for 30 days after date of entry into the country and allows the holder to apply for a Residence Permit.
To apply for the Z visa, you will need to have both your degree certificate (copy) and your background check (original) notarized by a notary public and then stamped by the Department for Foreign Affairs (Dept of State or FCO or equivalent). You then take both documents to your nearest Chinese Embassy/Consulate for them to authenticate. You will also need to submit your passport information page, TEFL certificate, passport-size photo and your invitation letter. Enquire as to when you will get the work visa (normally 1-5 working days) and advise the school of this date. You should bring the originals of all the visa documents with you when you travel to China.
Once you arrive in China, your school will take you to the local police bureau to register your passport and visa details. They will also arrange a medical at this point if it is required. They will then apply for the Foreign Expert Certificate (this will take 7-10 working days) and once this is received, will take you to the visa office to submit your passport and application for your Residence Permit (this will take a further 5-7 working days).
To summarize, you will need some or all of the following documents to complete the visa process:
- 2 letters of recommendation (ink-signed and scanned)
- Scanned passport photo (also bring 8 passport photos)
- Information page of your passport (scanned)
- Degree certificate (copy of your actual certificate, not transcript,notarized and then stamped by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy)
- Teaching Certificate (TEFL certificate or teaching certificate or both)
- Criminal background check (original – notarized and then stamped by the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy)
- Signed contract
- Signed commitment letter (Some locations)
- Copy of your medical check report
Cost of Living for Teachers in China
Teaching in China is a great way to build up your savings. The cost of living is incredibly low, and although salaries may not be as high for TEFL teachers as they are in some other countries, you’ll find yourself saving a significant amount each month. However, Chinese money can seem a little confusing at first. The Chinese currency is called ‘Renmenbi’ or ‘Yuan’ (abbreviated to RMB, and sometimes given the same symbol as the Japanese Yen). Typically, though, people don’t use those words. They say ‘kuai’. One kuai is made up of ten ‘jiao’, which are also called ‘mao’. A mao is made up of ten ‘fen’.
Sound complicated? It’s not, really. For a start, nobody uses fen anymore. In fact, fen are becoming collectors’ items. The different terms for yuan and jiao are simply colloquialisms. Think of it like our language in the UK or the US. Renmenbi is equivalent to ‘United States Dollar’ or ‘British Pound Sterling’. It’s not something we commonly say. Likewise, we don’t always say ‘pound’ or ‘dollar’, either. And so the Chinese don’t always say ‘yuan’ or ‘jiao’. They use ‘kuai’ and ‘mao’ like we use ‘quid’ and ‘buck’. Right now, one kuai/yuan is approximately 15 American cents. Or perhaps it’s easier to think the other way around; one US dollar is roughly 7RMB. A UK pound is worth almost 9RMB.
Prices are ridiculously cheap by Western standards, and so a beer from a convenience store will typically cost between 2-5RMB (much less than a dollar). A plate of fried rice is usually 5-7RMB. A bottle of water costs about 1.5RMB.
When you pay for things in a store, don’t always expect there to be a price tag, and so it’s worthwhile learning the numbers. If you can’t remember the numbers, you could try learning the hand signals – Chinese people use their fingers differently for counting than we’re accustomed to in the West. Most importantly, learn to haggle! Everything in China is negotiable, so don’t be afraid to ask for a deal, if you can correctly say the numbers.
Top Locations to Teach in China
Many of the large cities in China, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen and Guangzhou, are diverse and metropolitan in nature. The pace of living is fast so you should expect lots of pedestrians, traffic and hustle and bustle. There is a real energy to these places. For example, Shanghai is often compared to New York, thanks to its international feel and great nightlife. Beijing, on the other hand, is just a bit more relaxed and has more tourists but both offer an amazing living experience.
But for the average Chinese person, city life consists of a typically long work day of up to 12 hours. For relaxation, they enjoy shopping and the ever-popular ‘karaoke’. More and more people from rural areas are moving to the cities, and approximately 20 million Chinese move to urban areas each year. Chinese cities are an ever-changing phenomenon with some streets becoming unrecognisable in the space of just 6 months.
There are over 650 cities in China, and more than 100 of them have a population exceeding 1 million people. These cities tend to have all the typical amenities that a city would have in your home country including several universities, hospitals, big wide roads, an airport and various types of housing.
To learn more about some of the larger cities, just click through our drop down menu here and you can choose which city you want to read about. If there is any information you think we should add, please don’t hesitate to email the TFA Recruitment team with your ideas and we’ll certainly consider making any necessary edits!
Many people describe their time in China as a defining experience in their life as you’ll not only learn a lot about life over here but you’ll end up learning a lot about yourself too.
Apart from the practical reasons, teaching English in China also provides a great opportunity for any recent graduates (or those with any type of debt!) to pay off student loans or to save some money. Not only will you have the opportunity to reduce or eliminate your debt, you’ll also be able to save. You’ll experience an amazing new culture and gain valuable work experience while being paid. It’s also a great place to save some money for future travels with many of our China-based teachers taking advantage of their long paid holiday time to travel around Asia in between terms. China is a fantastic country to live in, beyond the interesting sites and low cost of living, it is the Chinese people that really make living in China such a wonderful and memorable experience!
Teaching Jobs in China
China is a huge country, with something to suit every taste. If you’re a fan of big cities with international restaurants and massive shopping malls, you have Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and many of the developed medium-sized cities with truly international reputations.
These days, there are few places on earth where it’s easier to save money than China. Salaries for teaching English in China dwarf the average local salary, and with teacher salaries on the rise, it is possible to save more than you could in other locations. For our International School teachers you can expect a very handsome salary and benefits package, comparable and in some cases better than other popular locations in Asia.
This ancient country may have been slow to open up to the West, but now that it has, it’s quickly gaining a reputation as a comfortable, exciting, modern, fun and profitable place to live.
Teach at Private language schools in China
Here at Teachers For Asia, we have carefully built up a selection of quality partner schools in all of the major cities across China. From fascinating Beijing in the north and sparkling Shanghai in the East to sunny Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the south – the choice of locations is wide and varied.
We make a point of sending one of our senior team to visit every school before we decide to work with them or not. We check out the accommodation provided and speak with the current teachers there to get a good overall opinion of how the whole academy is run. This strategy has really helped us build up strong trusted relationships with the top ESL schools across China which we have hand-picked very carefully since our first ever placement in China way back in 2010.
Our management team have weekly meetings with management at these partner schools to ensure close and efficient management of our teachers and to further build our trusted relationships with these professional organisations. It also allows us to provide our teachers with feedback on how they are progressing through the duration of their contract, something which our teachers have always appreciated.
Teachers in the private schools that we work with normally earn more than in universities or government-operated high schools, and can expect to work 20-30 hours per week. It can be a very satisfying role especially if you enjoy teaching children. And with the smaller sized classes, you get to know each individual student more easily and observe them improve over the course of the term. For more information on salary and benefits available for these particular roles, check out our wide selection of TEFL teaching jobs in many popular cities across China coming up over the coming months on our jobs page (www.teachersforasia.com/jobs).
TFA at Public Schools in China
TFA has worked with several Public School programs now in various parts of China since back in 2010. As we manage things very closely these programs have proven very popular and have been a real success for us. With positions at public schools in Suzhou, Shanghai and Shenzhen to name but a few, we usually hire twice per year for these highly sought after roles.
These positions can be compared to the EPIK positions we recruit for in South Korea. Working 5 days per week, Monday to Friday and with standard public school hours (8:30am–4:30pm), you certainly won’t be overworked. Benefits are good with cost of flights and apartment rental covered for the duration of your contract. Class sizes are generally larger than the equivalent in our Private Academy partner schools but you will have the support of a Chinese assistant teacher to help you manage the class along with ongoing training and great orientation and training back when you first arrive. Generally Chinese kids don’t require much discipline, they are usually eager and really interested in learning. Like any children, they love to end a class with a lively game of some sort.
Check out our wide selection of Public School TEFL jobs in various locations around China coming up this season on our Jobs Board.
Teach at International Schools in China
Teachers For Asia work with a wide selection of top International Schools across China. We hire for all subject areas ranging from Math and the Sciences, to PE, English Literature, Art and Music, with everything in between. Many of our client schools teach through both the popular IB curriculum and the British IGCSE set up. The majority of our client schools are located in the top tier cities across China. We can go into more details on these during your skype consultation with our team.
For teaching jobs in international schools in China, candidates must hold a professional Teacher Qualification and have previous relevant teaching experience. Benefits in these schools are excellent with competitive salaries, professional training, accommodation and flights covered, long paid vacations along with many other benefits. The classroom dynamic is excellent as students at the schools are usually very focused and keen to prepare for entrance exams into the top Universities in Europe and US. Check out our wide selection of subject teaching roles coming up this season in many cities across China on our International School Jobs Board – (www.teachersforasia.com/subject-teaching-jobs).
Requirements to Teach in China
The basic requirements for teaching English in China (TEFL jobs) are a Bachelor’s degree and TEFL certificate (120 hours is the standard and covers requirements across all schools/regions). Some schools will also require some teaching experience (this will be specified when you apply). You will also need to be a citizen of a native English-speaking country (USA, Canada, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or South Africa).
How To Apply.
If you’re still at home, getting your visa is probably your priority and the process takes a bit of time and effort (depending on which country you will be employed in of course).
We will advise you on every step and make it as stress free as possible. Suffice to say, once it’s done and you’re here you’ll wonder what you fretted about. It goes without saying that if you have any questions, please email us using our Contact us form on this site or directly through firstname.lastname@example.org
So what exactly is a teaching Visa? This is what you will need to legally teach over here in Asia. It is usually valid for 12 months (the length of a standard contract) from the date of entry into the country and of course, it’s renewable.
In order to be eligible for this visa, teachers must hold a minimum of a Bachelor’s Degree (either 3 or 4 years) from an accredited University and be a citizen of one of the following English speaking countries – USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Your visa will only allow you to work at the specific school which sponsors your visa. You cannot work at another school unless you receive a special permission from immigration on your visa. When you receive your visa, it may be a single-entry visa. If you wish to travel internationally from your base country here in Asia, as many teachers do, you will need to apply for a multiple reentry visa at the immigration office. This is very easy to obtain and usually doesn’t cost a lot.