How To…. Find An English School In China

In this instalment of my “How To – China” series, I discuss different resources for finding English teaching jobs in China
 

Finding an English school in China

How easy is it to find an English school in China?

What I’m going to do is sift through the various options to you, and at least whittle the choices and Google searches down, so you can find that perfect English school in China for you.

Basic requirements that most English schools in China will require from you, and you will see a lot over the coming post:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Native of an English speaking country (or the ability to show that your English is proficient enough to teach)
  • TEFL or similar
  • Teaching experience (in some schools this is more flexible, as there is a lot of training available and the best experience is doing)
A lot of these and other “requirements” are circumstantial. If a school is desperate for teachers they are more than happy to overlook more points. It’s not like people are fighting for teaching places in English schools in China either, so the best bet is to apply to a couple and see who can offer you the better deal.
There are two options when you decide you want to find an English school in China:
  1. Teach English in a private language school – classes are usually smaller and the parents have paid for their children to be there
  2. Teach English in a public Chinese school – classes are huge (50+ and more) and obviously require a different handling of situations
You need to look in more detail at each of the opportunities for each kind of school, as they will offer you different challenges along the way!

For each of the listed schools I have pulled out what I consider to be the most important notes on their websites. If you want to find out more, you can click on the link that I’ve provided to find out a whole lot more. China is a fairly cheap place to live, so try not to focus on the salary too much. One may have a very high salary, but once accommodation and bills and the expense of living in a city are taken out, is it really worth it?

A word of caution
Although most people who come to China have a fantastic experience, there are a small number of people who are unlucky in their choice. This is not limited to public schools, which you’ll read about in more detail later, as some of the bigger name companies can also fail to deliver sometimes. All you want to make sure is that you have a contract, the school is aware of its duties to you and your duties to it, and if something is happening that is not in your contract tell someone. The schools have a duty to maintain your welfare so make sure you know what you are entitled to when you sign up! There’s plenty of experiences and anecdotes around the internet for you to peruse at your leisure.

What you should definitely be looking for are the words “Chinese Z Visa.” This is the visa that will show that you are working legally in China. You can only get a Z visa with a bachelor’s degree. Obviously some people do work “illegally,” but you put yourself in a very vulnerable position, as you will not be on an official contract and could be dismissed very easily by the school without receiving a penny. MAKE SURE YOU GET A Z VISA.

That’s enough of the caps lock anyway. Now, a run down of the major players in the recruitment of teachers for English schools in China.


Aston English (private language school)
Aston English school in China

I will keep this brief and unbiased but it would be remiss of me not to put this company first seeing as I have been working for it for the past year. Aston English school in China has over 70 schools (though I actually think this may be nearer 90 now) throughout China and also has schools based in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Qualifications you’ll need:

  • College degree in any subject
  • Native speakers of English at least 23 years old
  • Nationalities preferred are Canadian, British, American, Australian,
    Irish, and New Zealander
  • TEFL Certificate
  • Two years of working/teaching experience after graduate (this is flexible)
  • Must enjoy teaching children’s classes
  • Previous experience in living abroad
 Employment package:
  • Salary 4,800-8,000RMB, dependent on working hours in your contract -19, 23 or 28. You can end up earning more as a manager too.
  • Flight Allowance and end of contract bonus: dependant on contract length. The longer you stay the longer flight allowance and bonus respectively.
  • Accommodation: Free, shared accommodation. Teachers are responsible for utilities
  • Free Mandarin Class, 4hours per week
  • 1 or 2 week’s holiday dependent on contract length, in addition to all Chinese holidays

NewLifeESL

A new start up, providing a place where teachers can get a free TEFL, as well as free placement into a school. There are good things about them from placed teachers on YouTube too!

New Life ESL

English First (EF) – private language school

English First logo

This is one of the more respected English schools in China, although they also have openings in Indonesia and Russia as well. English First operate in most large cities in China, centred around Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, but with many other large cities available , so you’ll never be short of exciting opportunities. The important stuff comes next, about the what you’ll need and what you’ll get as an employee of EF.

Qualifications you’ll need:

  • A genuine interest in teaching and education
  • 1+ year teaching experience, preferably in EFL or ESL
  • Bachelor’s degree
  • TEFL certificate (CELTA or equivalent preferred)
  • Native English speaker
  • Passport issued by an English-speaking country
  • Enthusiasm, positive attitude, willingness to learn, good team spirit & investment in student success
  • Aged 24 to 55 (due to China working visa requirements)
  • No criminal record

Employment package:

  • Competitive salary package (13,017RMB per month in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen)
  • One-year working Z-visa
  • Flight allowance
  • Accommodation assistance
  • Comprehensive health insurance
  • Paid public holidays + ten days paid vacation
  • Professional teacher development and training programs

 

Disney English school in China Disney English (private language school)
No-one speaks the language of children better than Disney,” says the quote on the recruitment page. Yes, this English school in China is part of the Disney franchise. You can clearly learn about the Disney films in these English centres…Well, I’m not sure about that, but there are 30 locations where Disney English is present across China, all in fairly major cities.
 Qualifications you’ll need:
  • The only require qualification is a Bachelor’s degree
  • TEFL/TESOL are desired but not essential
  • 24 month post-bachelor’s education experience
  • Experience travelling internationally or working abroad
  • Demonstration of a clear, neutral English accent
  • A passion for educating young learners
  • Ability to relocate to China for a 12 to 15 month contract
Employment package:
  • 10,000-11,000RMB monthly salary
  • 3,000-4,500RMB monthly housing allowance
  • 7,000RMB training bonus
  • Additional quarterly incentive bonus
  • TEFL-C certification
  • Health & Dental insurance
  • Minimum 40 hour week
  • 3 weeks hotel accommodation on arrival in China
  • *Benefits subject to change

i-to-i offer adventure travel, gap year travel, opportunities to volunteer as well as TEFL courses of all length. I’ve been published on the site twice, first to introduce myself and secondly to offer up some of my badly translated signs for people to peruse. They also have teaching internships in China, as well as Vietnam, Thailand and Poland.

Qualifications you’ll need:

  • Be prepared to stay in China for 5 months
  • You must be a native English speaker
  • Completion of high school/secondary school is required
  • To be between the ages of 18 and 55
  • 140 hours of TEFL training if needed
  • You must have a UK, USA, AU, IE, NZ or CA passport
Employment package:
  • 24/7 in-country support + local support
  • 2,000RMB every month plus a 2,500 RMB bonus at the end of your internship
  • Private bedroom in shared accommodation and receive all meals Mon – Fri at your school, or a meal allowance
  • Comprehensive 14 day orientation in Beijing
  • 2 days of practical TEFL training – i-to-i will provide you with the 20-hour Classroom Course right in Beijing
  • 6 hours of Mandarin lessons during your orientation
  • One day tour of Beijing
  • Airport pick up and transfers to your school
  • Visa assistance

 

British council teach in China

British Council Assistantships – (in public schools)

This is a great programme and how I spent my Year Abroad in Germany. To apply for the China assistantships you must be a graduate and able to work from September to the following June, following a 2-week training course in Beijing.

Qualifications you’ll need:

  • Bachelor’s degree
  • Ability to stay in China from September to June
  • Reference from a recent employer
  • Ability to pay for all visa/medical related costs

Employment package:

  • 20 hours work a week
  • 3,000RMB -4,500RMB per month (net) depending on location
  • Free accommodation with private bathroom and TV. Utility fees are usually covered, often to a specified ceiling.
  • Two-week training course/induction and accommodation during the course
  • Your return flight (flight to China and back to the UK) is paid for by your school upon completion of the contract.

 

Going it alone – (mostly in public schools)
There’s nothing stopping you from searching for English jobs in a quick Google search. My friend Agness did just this:
“In January I started looking for job offers on the internet for September. I sent my CV with a covering letter and a recent photo to a few Chinese private and public schools. I got many replies from different schools in different provinces […] however, one guy, he was American, sent me an e-mail saying he would love to have an interview with me. During the interview, he asked me so many questions about my experience and I had to prepare a demo class for him as well. He was very pleased and I got a job on the spot. I got the job at the beginning of February but Steven and I were in touch until September.”
You probably need to have more of an idea of what you want, as the following sites that Agness used often require a bit more sifting to find positions that interest you. Most of the jobs listed in these sites are for public schools, whereas Aston, EF and Disney English are all private companies:

Dave’s ESL Café – this is one of the more famous ESL job search sites

Craigslist – China – You never know what you might find!

Job China – A quick look at this there’s everything from teaching jobs to being lingerie models. Now there’s a thought!

ESL Jobs China – Not the easiest site to use, but nevertheless seems to have lots of teaching jobs on it.

Requirements for each job from these sites will obviously differ, but not too much from the general requirements I listed at the beginning of this post. I will reiterate the words of caution I mentioned at the beginning of this post too:

  • MAKE SURE YOU GET A Z VISA AND WORK LEGALLY
  • Make sure that you have a contract and be aware of what the school should be providing you
  • Don’t just focus on a high salary – there’s a reason it’s higher, and also you might have to pay more out in accommodation in a larger city – be prepared to do some research into what you can realistically have left money-wsie at the end of each month
  • Obviously people’s reasons for moving to China are different – make sure there is a good reason for you to – as a friend always says to me: “Don’t ever leave your home country on bad terms – it’s not worth it as you may want to come back one day!”
  • Ask as many questions to your employer as possible before you head out. Generally, good replies should mean that they are a good employer, and poor or no replies mean it’s probably not a good idea…. BUT there is always an exception, so just keep alert
OK, well done if you got this far in the post. I hope it’s given you a good insight to what different schemes are available for those of you who would like to find an English school in China. As ever, I am open to emails, comments and suggestions, so get in touch if you want to know more, or have had a particularly good (or bad!) experience with a certain company. I’d love to hear from you!

 

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Author: Bennett

2 years as an expat in China and now doing the same in New Zealand, Bennett sure likes to experience "slow travel!"

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6 Comments

  1. Great article Sarah.People have so many options to find a job and the salary is so tempting. I forgot to mention, one day when I was in Xi’an, I met two English teachers who had no degree at all and the school employed them anyway, so impossible in nothing in China

    Post a Reply
    • That is true! Some of the documents can be faked – for example my friend’s real police check wasn’t accepted but a fake one the school did was, crazy! There are so many opportunities and not that many barriers in truth – as long as you are foreign and can speak good English there is usually somewhere for you to be!
      Also true about the salary – I pay so little out of mine compared to some people who may actually be on a higher salary than me, so is it really worth it?!

      Thanks for the comment, as always 😀

      Post a Reply
  2. Hi Sarah!
    I’m Adnan from Lahore, Pakistan. I’m reading your adventures for the past few weeks and literally, they are of great help. Thank you so much for putting your efforts to educate the prospects. I really appreciate your help. I’m a teacher by profession, working at a local school for a year and half. Also doing my MBA. Well, I’m pretty much interested in teaching and exploring China. In fact its been my dream for a long time. Recently, I learned about the new ruling which clearly discouraged teachers from non-native ENG speaking countries. I’m determined to move to china if I find an opportunity to live and work. Please suggest me a company and region that suits me best. I’ll anxiously be waiting for your reply.

    Blessings!

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Adnan – glad to hear my adventures have helped and glad to hear you are interested in China! To be honest, I’ve not heard about the new ruling in regards to non-native English speakers. I know when I was in China I had a few friends teaching who were not native speakers…mostly people wanted English teachers to have a degree, as I believe the Z visa (work visa) was easier to obtain with this.
      Now what I’m going to talk about next might seem kinda blunt, but I say it so you know what the Chinese culture can be like and what to expect: the Chinese can be quite racist at times and they rather expect a native English speaker to be white and American/British. This is something you would have to take into consideration, being pointed at all the time (though this happened to everyone non-Chinese) and I do know of teachers who were not “white”. It’s just something you also need to think about.
      I was with Aston English Schools, another company is NewLifeESL http://newlifeesl.com/find-me-a-job/?ref=TFAB – as you may have seen. Most applications will start with a Skype interview, especially if you are non-native speaking as accents need to be taken into account.
      My advice is just start searching, go for it, because what have you got to lose?! You never know what you can get unless you try! Please don’t hesitate to contact me further on bennettsadventures@gmail.com if you have any further questions at all 🙂

      Post a Reply

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