Teaching English in China: Top 10 Qs

In which I present the top 10 questions I get asked about teaching English in China

Unsurprisingly, I often get emails though my Contact Me page from people wanting to know more about teaching English in China. Please do email me if you ever have questions, as I enjoy being able to help other people with their decision to move East, so keep those emails coming!

What I thought I would do was cover the main questions that crop up time and time again. No, it doesn’t mean that anyone is stupid, but it just shows that people take the move into serious consideration. Saying that, no question is ever stupid, even if you think it is, and I’ve always heard them all before and asked them myself, so don’t be shy and type it to me! 🙂

“Do question, even the basics!
You will be a fool for once!
If you don’t, you will be, for a lifetime..”

So, without further adieu, I present my Top Ten Questions about Teaching English in China!

  1. Do I need to be a native speaker of English?
    No, you don’t. There are many schools and roles that need filling with English speakers. Sure, it helps If you are a native speaker, as the visa process is also generally easier for such nationalities, but don’t think you are limited. The school or recruiter may ask for a special Skype pre-interview with you however, to check your accent.
  2. Do I need to speak Mandarin?
    This is easily answered with a “HELL NO!” I knew nothing in Mandarin before I went to China, and I mean that. You will soon pick up the words you need if you are inclined to learn the language.
  3. How much will I pay to be placed in the school?
    There should never be any fee to the school or recruiters in regards to placing you in a job. If you’re paying for this, get the hell out of Dodge! Schools and companies differ on such things as flights and visa for example, one school may offer to pay for your flights and another may not – it is ok to go for the school which pays your flights of course, as long as you are happy with everything else you are being provided with 😉
    Definitely check out Aston English (where I went) and a company called NewLifeESL who place teachers without fees.
  4. Do I need a degree/TEFL/teaching experience?
    No, no, no. None of this is really necessary in the job at all. The key skills you need are determination, a will to adapt to a foreign country, flexibility and the desire to learn on the go. Both Aston English and NewLifeESL offer ways of getting a TEFL before being placed in a job anyway.
  5. How do I get my visa?
    The school will explain this to you once you are hired. In the meantime, check out our new ebook with detailed instructions on the visa process and the different scenarios!
  6. What do I get in the way of holiday/travel time?
    Honestly, the best time to go and work in China is September, as you have two major holidays in the 6 months from beginning your contract (National Holiday – October and Spring Festival January/February). Schools differ in regards to Western holidays, so it’s up to individual schools to decide this.
  7. Will I be placed where there are no other teachers as I don’t want to be alone!
    It depends on the school but if your wish is not to be placed alone, most of the time this can be accommodated. Same goes for the opposite opinion.
  8. What about Facebook/Twitter?
    These sites are all blocked in China but finding a proxy you can easily bypass the Great Firewall of China no problem.
  9. What do I have to wear for school?
    This depends on the school regulations. Some may require you to wear a smart shirt, others polo shirts and some will allow you to wear what you like (within reason).
  10. What will I get in terms of accommodation?
    This differs so greatly from school to school that you need to think of the following 4 questions:
    How much will the accommodation be? (free/stipend/monthly bills)
    Where will it be? (proximity to school/amenities)
    What is it like? (demand pics – if unwilling to give you some I’d be cautious!)
    Who will I be living with? (how many flatmates/all from your school?)

Obviously, there are many questions still unanswered, but don’t hesitate to get in contact at all. I hope you’re more excited about teaching English in China now!


Don’t forget to check out Add Your Brick to the Great Wall – the new ebook about teaching English, living and travelling in China written collaboratively with Agness and Cez over at etramping.
You can find the book available in UK and US Amazon stores! Add Your Brick To The Great Wall

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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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  1. This is a very helpful list! It can be so daunting to those starting out down this road, and you’re right – no question is stupid.

    I recently started a recruitment business, and I hire for a university in China. I’d love if you could direct those inquiring minds to me! http://teachenglishesl.com


    Post a Reply
    • Hi Jessica – great to know others think these are the questions to be answered, so thank you! Fantastic news about your agency – did you check out our eBook yet? 🙂

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  2. LOL @ The Great Firewall of China 😀

    I forgot how I end up here, from your comments on some other travel blogs I suppose, but your blog is cool, so I will stalk you from now on.

    -From a confused Malaysian engineer who visited Beijing/Guangzhou as a kid, studied for a few months in Liverpool, and more recently went on multiple business trips to the US-

    Post a Reply
    • Haha, thanks realgunners for taking the time to comment on my site 🙂

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  3. Hi there!
    How are you doing. I’m a teacher by profession and have been teaching at local schools in Lahore for the last couple of years. ‎Also, I have a great American accent. It’s pretty amazing to learn about how easy it is to find a teaching job in china being an expat! Well, I just want to figure out how convenient it is to be an English teacher in china and to be honest, I’d love to be the one and of course exploring chinese culture would be an incredible experience. I was wondering if you could give some more details about it.


    Warm Regards
    Adnan Naqvi

    Post a Reply
    • Hi Adnan, Thanks for getting in touch! Great to hear you’ve been teaching English already. It’s really convenient if you’ve already been teaching English as a second language. As for what it’s like in China, explore some of the things I’ve done on my site and see for yourself! I highly recommend it!

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