Finding Work as an English Teacher in China
Foreign English teachers can easily find a variety of teaching positions across China, in private language schools, public schools and as private English tutors for both children and adults. There is very high demand for English teachers in China, making it relatively easy to find teaching positions in most areas of the country. Most teaching positions are secured beforehand from outside of China.
Teaching English in Private Language Schools and Academies
Private Language Schools in China are always hiring English teachers, and many of them belong to businesses with many school, or have ‘franchises’ across the country, ensuring a constant demand of foreign English teachers.
The age of your students may vary depending on which school you choose and some schools teach only adults, while others teach only young children. Depending on the school, you may also be required to take part in group activities.
If you have little or no experience teaching English abroad, working for a private language school can be the better choice as you’ll have help along the way and the opportunity to benefit from long-term growth within the company. Private language schools in China also tend to pay more than do public schools and classes tend to be smaller, sometimes with as few as 5 students per class and seldom more than 20, although group activities may involve larger numbers of students.
Although hours can be long, classes are usually held in the evenings and on weekends, leaving your week-days free to explore the area in which you are staying.
Working for a private language school is the easiest way to get a job teaching English in China, and most companies offer teaching positions in different and diverse areas – from China’s largest cities to smaller, less cosmopolitan locations and small towns.
As a TEFL graduate you will have your pick of locations, and many companies will allow you the freedom to move to a new city or town after a few months if you would like to teach in a different area.
Teaching English in Government Public Schools
Public schools in China pay less than private language schools, but teachers work fewer hours and are afforded longer and often more frequent holidays. Most teachers live on campus or in an apartment near the school, eat lunch in the school cafeteria and are required to involve themselves in school events like talent shows and sports days.
Class sizes also tend to be larger, often reaching up to 50 students per class, however most schools hire foreign English teachers as supplemental oral teachers, so you may only be required to teach a large percentage of the school on an infrequent basis.
Public schools require foreign English teachers to design their own lesson plans, but you are generally given plenty of leeway with regard to topics and teaching methods.
Getting a job with a public school in China can be a bit harder and the less reliable than working with a private company, because many schools are not versed in visa paperwork, and many foreign language teachers rely on an agent to help them find jobs and negotiate with schools. Working for a public school can be a very rewarding experience, but there is also much less of a safety net if the school tries to take advantage of you as a foreigner.
Private English Tutoring for Children, Adults and Business Executives
Many foreign English teachers are able to find extra work as private English tutors for wealthy families or businesses, as there is a high demand for one-on-one tutoring in China, particularly for adults and high school students.
Private English tutoring can be a great way to earn extra income while living in China.
It may be easiest to obtain private English tutoring positions in China once you are already there however it is important to note that you must have the correct ‘Z’ visa and a non-exclusivity clause in your primary school’s teaching contract.