Not only one of the biggest countries in the world in terms of land mass, population and economy, China is perhaps the number one employer of TEFL instructors worldwide. Its business development has grown so rapidly that the demand for the international language of business, technology and communication, English, is unable to be met by the supply of teachers. Just take a look at any TEFL jobs board and the evidence is undeniable.
Training in China
China is not only a hotspot for TEFL teachers, but also for TEFL trainees. One of the largest companies providing TEFL training, Cactus TEFL, regularly runs courses in Beijing and Suzhou, while other companies offer training in Shanghai, Zhu Hai and other cities.
What’s the advantage of training abroad? Aside from the fact that the course fee is roughly the same wherever you study (CELTA studied in England will cost you around 899GBP, while a four week CELTA course in Beijing is 850GBP with Cactus TEFL), these courses normally include some actual teaching practice with local students, which gives the teacher a ‘taster’ of what it’s like to live and work in the country. Successful trainees are often guaranteed a job or offered help in finding a job in the country where they study.
If you want to try out teaching in China before you take up a contract, and be a bit humanitarian to boot, you could be a volunteer teacher in China. I-to-I offer short volunteer programs (at a considerable fee, it has to be said), ranging from 2 to 12 weeks in duration. Meanwhile, the Global Volunteer Network offers teaching positions in rural China. The only requirements for these programs is that you are healthy and enthusiastic, and a native English speaker. It’s a great way to get some experience and to find out if TEFL in China is for you.
As downright good as volunteering is, the most realistic and long-term option for TEFL in China is a paid position in one of China’s many universities, colleges, language centres or schools. It doesn’t take much effort to find a job in China, particularly not if you are thinking of going to the over-sized metropolis that is Beijing. In fact, the difficulty is in finding the right position. Beware of dodgy contracts that are vague on specifics, and poor living conditions. Most China TEFL jobs offer accommodation – a one bedroom flat is ideal, but you should be cautious if the offer is of a suite, or hotel style accommodation. Remuneration is normally quite good by local standards, although there is massive variation throughout the country and living expenses differ according to location. In Shanghai you might be able to expect around as much as 8000RMB/month (roughly 600GBP), while a more rural location lowers the considerably. Be sure to research the salary and living costs before embarking on a job.
China is abundant with opportunity, and now is in many ways an ideal time to look into moving there to teach English. One of the safest and most reputable employers is the British Council’s English Language Assistants Abroad program. Check their website for more details.
If you have experience of working in China please get in touch to let us know your experiences, or if you are looking for TEFL jobs in China let us know how your job search is going! firstname.lastname@example.org