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Advice For Westerners Considering Teaching English In China

You Want To Teach English In China

If you have ever considered being an ESL teacher (English As A Second Language) in China, you should also do yourself the favor of researching the financial viability of an overseas teaching job.

The decision to teach English in China has many incentives.  You can immerse yourself in a new culture, develop a new career path, make new friends, find romancelearn a new language, have rich, new experiences, and even lay the groundwork for an international business.

Legal Requirements For An English Teacher In China

The legal requirements to enter China with an approved Z visa (the only work visa currently provided by the Chinese government) to teach English (ESL) are

  • to be a citizen of a native English-speaking country,
  • have a bachelor degree,
  • have a minimum 100 hours TEFL certification,
  • to have worked for two years upon graduation,
  • and to be between 22 and 55 years of age.

You also need an offer from a school or teaching academy in mainland China to teach English (ESL).

How To Find English Teaching Job Offers

One successful way to find English teaching jobs is to change your “headline” or “current position” in LinkedIn changed to read “English Teacher”.   Recruiters and headhunters (猎头) in China are trained to search LinkedIn for English teachers, connect with them, and approach them with offers.

I was bombarded with offers from China once I made this small adjustment.

LinkedIn Profile For English Teaching   WeChat English Teacher Group Chat

Another successful way to find English teaching jobs is to join a WeChat Teachers In China Group.  This relies on knowing contacts that have developed a China-based network, but once you are in a WeChat Group, jobs are advertised directly by headhunters.  You can add them on WeChat to start the English teacher application process.

English Teaching Job Salary Expectations In China

Coming from a Western country, you also should consider accommodation, exchange rates, and expenses.

In my experience teaching English as a second language in China, a new, inexperienced teacher should aim for 180-250 RMB as an hourly rate.  If you plan to teach English part-time, 20 teaching hours will secure you 5,000 RMB ($1,000 AUD) per month.

A full-time ESL teaching job could secure you between 10,000 RMB ($2,000 AUD) and 25,000 RMB ($5,000 AUD) per month depending on experience and qualifications.

You also need to consider tax roughly for foreigner teachers in China equates to 30% of your pay.  Even if you teach illegally in China, tax will be applied to your pay.  Tax in China belongs somewhere in the murky world of bribery.  It is disappeared money you will never see again.

Tricks And Scams Chinese Recruiters Use

There are many tricks and scams associated with English teaching jobs in China.  They are too numerous to mention in one article.  I can only say to thoroughly negotiate all conditions in writing before you board an airplane to China, and to beware of any incentives (i.e. accommodation, bonuses, full-time employment) offered to come to China, as they will quickly evaporate once in China.

Is Teaching In China Financially Viable?

So, is an English teaching job in China financially viable, you may question?

When I interviewed with Hampson English in China, the conversation I had with their Human Resources personnel serves as a sobering example.

While we pored over the contract, I explained, “In Australia, we get paid to look for work.  An Australian citizen on government benefits receives an allowance of $500 AUD per week.”

Then I got out my calculator and said, “$2,000 Australian dollars per month is how much Australians receive to look for work, play computer games, or sit on the toilet.  That is 10,000 RMB.  In China I am offered 10,000 RMB per month to work forty hours per week as an English teacher.”

I continued to explain how a professional job in Australia such as IT work would net you a base salary of $65,000 AUD per year.  I translated that to be 350,000 RMB.  I compared this to 120,000 RMB as a yearly salary for an English teacher in China.

I summed up, “When English schools encouraged me to travel to China to teach English, I always wondered what the incentives are?”

She asked, “Well why would you come here?”

I replied, “For a challenge.”

Consider The Reasons To Teach English In China

The moral of the story is to consider your reasons to travel abroad.

Evaluate how much money is on offer in China, both as a part-time and full-time teacher.

A full-time English teacher in China is slightly better financially than the payments an Australian on Centrelink would receive for example.

Also, a good job in a Western country is comparative to 25,000 RMB per month in China.

You could stand to lose money working as an English teacher in China when compared to the money on offer in your home country.

However, if you can negotiate a good salary in China as a full-time English teacher, and you have other reasons to travel to China, then China is feasible.

The people of China will warmly welcome you.

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