Teach English in China

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Teaching English in China changed my life. I want to inspire others to take that same leap.

In 2015 I moved to China to teach English for one year. I loved it so much that one year quickly became three years of teaching. And 7 years later, I’m still here in Beijing.

The past 7 years have been filled with the most incredible adventures, new cultural experiences, and meeting incredible people. I’ve traveled to 24 provinces in China and 8 countries in Asia. But it’s also experience so much self-growth. I’ve gained cross cultural skills, grown my professional skills, and started my travel brand Rachel Meets China, as well as a podcast Date Night China. Expat life in China captivated me, and gave me so many amazing opportunities.

So if you want to move to China, I’m here to help. As someone who has been on both sides of looking to teach in China and helping new teachers arrive in China, I know the tricky points. While everyone’s journey might be different, there are some key things to know to make the transition either.

I want to give you the advice and resources I wish I had before moving to China.

How Did I Get Started Teaching English in China?

My first year, I came with a program that found teachers for universities in China. The program included a TEFL course and helped with everything from contacting the Chinese university, reviewing the contract, and so on, so I didn’t have to do much but get myself to China.

My third year, however, I wanted to try something different outside the university realm, and I wanted more control in the process of selecting my school, the city to live in, and my salary range. That’s how I found the kindergarten in the giant city of Guangzhou to work at on my own, and it was a very different experience from working at a university in a small city.

I’ve also been on the other side of the process. After teaching for 3 years, I wanted to continue working in China but transition into what my degree, skills, and passion are in: media and marketing. I moved to Beijing and worked as the Marketing Coordinator for an education recruitment company in Beijing (called Career China, a division of TAL). I handled inquiries and organized orientations for new teachers to adjust to life in China. I met more than 600+ new teachers who came to Beijing for orientation before either staying in the city or moving to a new city to start their job.

I’ve heard and seen it all: what helped teachers move to China and adapt more easily, and what the major points of pain and confusion are.

How To Move Abroad To China

So whatever your reason to move abroad to China – adventure, travel, money, career, living a different culture – there’s an option for you and a way to do it.

But making the first step to live abroad in China is hard. There are so many questions to sort through: how to find a reputable company in China? How do I choose what city in China to work in? And what kind of school in China should I work at? Then  there are documents to sort through: visas, TEFL certificates, notarizing documents and more.

There are also many barriers: culture shock, language barriers. Different social media apps. A lack of information and so many unknowns.

Then, admin things aside, there is the question about quality of life: will I be happy in China? Will I like it there? Can I build a life, connect with people, and feel satisfied and fulfilled? Will I adapt and feel it was worth it? What is life like in China now after post COVID restrictions?

My Experiences Teaching in China:

Here’s some info and resources about my personal experiences that will hopefully help you with teaching ESL in China:

TEFL Program To Teach English in China

To teach English in China, most employers will require TEFL certification, which stands for Teach English as a Foreign Language. They will also require at least a bachelor’s degree. Native English language proficiency is preferred, and some employers might require that you come from a native English speaking country. The average salary for an English teacher in China is $1,250 – $2,850 USD per month, depending on the type of school you work at and if you work in a larger or smaller city.

Don’t want to teach in China and just want to teach English online? You can also use a TEFL certification for that!

If you’re looking for a program to get a TEFL certificate , I personally recommend checking out International TEFL Academy (ITA) and the courses they offer. Find out more and get TEFL certified: International TEFL Academy certification.

Founded in 2010, International TEFL Academy (ITA) is a world leader in TEFL certification for teaching English abroad and teaching English online. They offer accredited TEFL certification classes online in 20+ locations worldwide and have received multiple awards and widespread recognition as one of the best TEFL schools in the world.

How To Find A School To Teach At In China

Firstly: are you looking for a school? Check out my article How To Find a School To Teach At in China

I don’t want to teach English in China

But what if you’ve never been to China, or you’ve never taught English? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there (or at least I have).

What if you’re not a teacher by trade or want to work in a different job in China? It’s possibly to find jobs outside of teaching in China! This comes with its own set of challenges, however, and making sure you are qualified, but also connected to the right people and jobs hiring. One thing I think many expats have found is that teaching is an easy way to get your foot in the door in China, which will then open other opportunities to you. There is still so much disconnect between Western and Chinese platforms, recruiters, and business systems. Once I moved to China and joined WeChat groups I was suddenly connected to so many people and businesses looking to employ people with my skills and experience in media.

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