Why you should TEFL in China

According to a recent report by Euromonitor International, China is set to overtake France as the top tourist destination in the world by 2030. But it’s not just tourists who are flocking to China – it’s already the top destination for EFL teachers, attracting teachers with an abundance of work, rapidly growing TEFL market, and great benefit packages.

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider teaching English in China!

A growing market

The biggest TEFL market in the world is to be found in China and it continues to grow at a significant rate. The private language market in the country is growing at a rate of 22% per year, meaning that the demand for EFL teachers isn’t likely to slow anytime soon.

The level of demand means that if you meet all the requirements (keep reading for more on this) then you shouldn’t have a problem finding work in China – it’s a great place for newly-qualified EFL teachers looking to land their first teaching role and gain experience.

The potential to travel and save

In the major cities the cost of living (excluding accommodation, which is typically included) is around 5,000RMB a month, but outside of these cities it can be as low as 2,000RMB. In the private sector salaries are often over 15,000RMB per month, so you should have plenty of money to live comfortably, travel and save.

Over the Chinese New Year you’ll typically have three or four weeks off and there are a number of holidays throughout the year giving you a chance to explore the country. China is a hugely culturally and geographically diverse country, so you’ll never be short of places to visit and experiences to have. In just the space of six months TEFL Org graduates, Joel and Menna, travelled to Beijing, Xi’an, Harbin, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Nanjing, Tianjin and Wuhan!

Holly took full advantage of the opportunities to travel while teaching in China:

One thing I particularly loved was how easy the train travel was, and how cheap. I could book a train ticket on an app called ChinaTrains, hop on a fast train and be in the next city so fast. Hotels are cheap, which meant plenty of days off spent exploring, although not all hotels can accept foreigners so check before traveling. I was living in the north east and there were so many fascinating towns to explore: the relaxing seaside town of Dalian, the Russian city of Harbin, the ancient city of Shanhaiguan where the Great Wall runs into the sea, Beijing, the North Korean border town of Dandong, the list is endless. I hiked the Great Wall 8 times and I am still not bored of it!

Incredible opportunities off the beaten track

Everyone knows Beijing and Shanghai but there’s so much more to China than the tier 1 cities where you’ll find large expat communities and a higher cost of living. Have you heard of Hefei, Zibo, Xiangyang, or Guiyang? These are just some of the cities our students have gone on to have incredible experiences teaching in, which you can read all about over on the student stories section of our blog.

Cat really treasured the experience of teaching in the rapidly developing lower-tier 2 city, Hefei, where an entire subway system, new shopping malls and a theme park were all built during her time there:

Teaching in a place that is in a transformative phase from smaller market town to fully-fledged economic hotspot was an experience I would never have encountered without stepping out of my international comfort zone and embarking on an adventure. Teaching in Hefei has totally overhauled my vision of China, re-paved the path of my academic interest and most importantly, taught me that while not everything goes to plan, it sure goes somewhere, and it might be better than you think.

As already noted, working outside of the major cities has the advantage of cheaper living costs. A “smaller”, second-tier city in China is only really small in comparison to the major Chinese cities; these tier two cities have populations of several million, so they’re small in comparison to the likes of Shanghai but still pretty big!

Teaching off the beaten track can offer opportunities to become more immersed in the local culture, as Holly found when she was teaching in China:

The local shop keeper gave me fruit and invited me to watch TV with her, the security guard taught me how to cook and I taught him how to use his smart phone, a local restaurant owner practised Chinese with me and cooked me up personalised meals while I watched his kids. I was treated like one of them and that’s something I haven’t lost to this day, whenever I visit I am welcomed in just the same way by them all.

What do you need to teach English in China?

First of all, it’s important to note that because there’s such a huge demand for EFL teachers there are some unscrupulous agents out there you need to watch out for. What this means is that teachers – either unknowingly or knowingly – can find employment illegally in China, which tends to occur when they don’t meet the requirements for the Z-visa. To teach in China this is the visa you must have.

Native English speakers need:

  • To have a passport from the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa
  • A BA degree in any subject
  • A TEFL certificate or 2 years teaching experience
  • A clean criminal record
  • To be under 55 years old

Non-native speakers need:

  • To hold a BA degree in any subject from a university in the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa
  • A TEFL certificate or 2 years teaching experience
  • A clean criminal record
  • To be under 55 years old

If you don’t meet these requirements you cannot work in China legally. The Chinese government has been cracking down on those working illegally in the country in the last few years and there are many reasons why it’s a really bad idea to not be on a the correct visa.

For more information, check out our blog post about how to spot bad employers and TEFL scams, which is a key read if you’re applying for TEFL jobs anywhere!

Further reading

If you’re interested in finding out more about TEFL in China then check out some of the below blog posts!

What is it really like to TEFL in China?
Working in China: what you need to know
Interview with Joey and Abi from i2Visa
Ten places to visit in China (that aren’t the Great Wall)
Moving to China: the essential checklist
Interview with Laura from EF English First

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