ESL Employment

Teach English in China

The demand for English teachers all over the world is growing quickly. As more countries interact with each other through business and other types of communication, the need for English speakers in foreign lands is growing. And nowhere is this need greater than in China.

If you're considering teaching English in China, you've chosen a challenging and competitive field. Every day language students choose China as their career field, but the need still far outweighs the available teachers.

For those who plan to teach English in China, there are a few basics you should know before beginning a job search.


All you really need to teach English in China is a college degree and fluency in English. Many countries require language teachers to have TEFL or ESL certification; however, China does not consider this a requirement. Nonetheless, it's wise to get certified before you begin your job search. It'll put you far ahead of the pack.

Getting certified in ESL is an easy process. Many colleges and community schools offer month-long certification programs. If you're planning on teaching overseas, it's best to arm yourself with a certificate just in case the job hunt is a little more cutthroat than you had expected.

Steps to Finding a Job

1. Study the Chinese culture. Keep in mind that when you teach English in China, you'll be living in China for at least the length of a school term, so you'll want to know as much as possible about your future home.
2. Research the Chinese school system and decide what level you'd like to teach at. English is taught from grade school all the way up through university level. Some businesses will also hire you to teach their employees English skills, or you may be interested in teaching conversational skills to adults in general.
3. Make the necessary contacts. This may require some international phone calls. The internet will be an invaluable tool at this point. Contact schools, universities, businesses and job boards to determine which jobs are right for you. Once you"ve selected some companies that you want to apply to, follow their guidelines for the application process.
4. Talk to your college. Many universities will have arrangements with Chinese schools; these •sister school• programs allow you to teach English in China while a Chinese teacher visits your school. The organization where you get your ESL certification will also most likely have a job placement assistance program.

Know What to Expect

Keep in mind that if you choose to teach English in China, it won't necessarily be the most financially rewarding career available- at least, not at first. Many Chinese universities will only require you to teach 14-15 classroom hours a week; however, you will be expected to be available for office hours and other types of responsibilities.

Don't be afraid to negotiate terms. Although your paycheck may not be very impressive, most universities or companies will provide you with airfare to and from China. Some universities will offer paid housing for foreign teachers, which eliminates the hassle of finding and paying for an apartment or house.

If you have a master's degree or a doctorate, you may qualify to work as a Foreign Expert in a Chinese university. Foreign Experts teach higher level classes and generally get a higher pay rate than Foreign Teachers.

Choosing to teach English in China is not just a career- it's a major commitment, so it"s important to think carefully before making your final decision! If you love the Chinese culture; if teaching English is your passion; if you're unafraid of new and challenging situations- then you've quite possibly found the right career field.

By Michelle Simmons

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