Should I teach English in China?

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Do you want to teach English in China? That’s great! Read on to find out exactly how you can do it with the best tips, advice, resources and job companies which can help you travel, save money and fulfill your dreams!

Do you want to teach English in China? Find out how to teach ESL TEFL English in China right here!
Teaching English in Shanghai China and enjoying the Bund!

Should you teach English in China?  As I said for Korea, Thailand and Vietnam the answer is a yes but first you must check out my overall guide to teaching English abroad to fund your travels. There are a lot of tips and advice in there which will really help you. China has exploded in the last couple of years for teachers to share the English love. Let’s see what’s possible!

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Teach me!

What’s special about China?

Just how unbelievably big it is: every area is different – it’s kind of crazy

Chinese food is nothing like you think it is.

The history! These guys are ancient!

How hard the language is: I’ve learnt a little of lots of different languages but Mandarin? Pfffff, you really have to make some effort

How they are developing all the time but still feel really old: it’s a bit of a chalk and cheese mix

Why should I teach English in China?

A lot is possible here: there’s something in the air that if you want to be successful, you can do it here

The money is fantastic: find the right school and you will be very comfortable

For newbie teachers there’s great opportunities for you to dive right in and go for it.

For experienced teachers, there’s lots of schools looking for your expertise!

You’ll be tested and challenged: that’s what I like and maybe that’s what you want too!

Blogger Alice standing in front of Shanghai City buildings skyscrapers
Teaching English in Shanghai China and enjoying the Bund!

What do I need to teach English in China?

A degree and a TEFL certificate.

It used to be different but China has become incredibly strict lately about ensuring their teachers have a degree and a TEFL certificate. They even give rewards to people who ‘hand in’ teachers who are teaching without these qualifications. Play it safe, follow the law and make sure you have both.

Get your TEFL certificate

Get 35% off your TEFL course here with code TEA35

No TEFL and little experience? Do an internship!

If you want to get a TEFL certificate and teaching experience at the same time, why not excel in your English teaching and take part in an internship?

Doing an internship (some with a full salary paid) will help you on your teaching journey.

Click to learn more about doing an internship here

How much money will I earn?

This is for Shanghai specifically but still expect very good wages in relation to your living costs elsewhere.


The minimum starting wage is around 200 CNY per hour =  $30 / £20. This is if you are working for different schools.  With some experience you can earn more than this and obviously, working at many schools part-time will earn you a good wage.

Private tutoring

This is where the money really comes in.  Good teachers can charge 300 CNY per hour and even more.  Many Chinese students want to be tutored privately and you can find this work easily.

Full time

Expect anything from a low 10,000 CNY per month to a very comfortable 30,000 CNY per month if you have experience and teaching qualifications.  Obviously, with full time you’re looking at housing allowance, return flights, health insurance, a transport allowance and lots of other lovely benefits.

Teaching Jobs in China for Foreigners

Who are the best students to teach?

When I arrived I automatically assumed, just like Korea, that teaching adults would bring in the most money.  This is actually wrong. Teaching kids is where the money is at here.  I went from teaching in Shanghai at a very reputable University to teaching 3 year olds in a Kindergarten.  I worked longer hours but I’d rather work hard and be paid good money for it.

Who should I work for?

The big players here are EF (English First), Wall Street English and Disney English to name a few but with any other country I have taught in, working for the big boys has its problems. The pay is low, the care is not the best and there really are better places out there for you. Be kind to yourself and find a job that is going to give you a fantastic deal! Wondering where to start looking?

Hiking in Xingping China
Hiking in Xingping China

Where should I look for work?

China is massive! In this case, research online carefully about the area which you think will suit you! I cannot stress this enough.  I lived and worked in Shanghai but it didn’t match my personality very well. Think about what you like, need and want and match the place to you.

Once you have picked your ideal area, to begin your search, check out these invaluable websites to set up your appointments! Remember, contracts are totally negotiable. They want you so say what you want!

Websites which I love are:

Good luck! I wish you the absolute best finding your new job. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact me by commenting below. I’m happy to help!

Related Reading

How to Teach English Online: The Ultimate Guide

10 Mistakes You Must Avoid with Teaching Jobs in China

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22 thoughts on “Should I teach English in China?”

  1. This is a great post! I’m considering teaching in China so this was very helpful! So far I’ve been contacted by and interviewed with Golden Staffing, a recruiter. Have you heard of them? If you were to go back to China to teach, which areas would you want to teach in? Thanks!

    • Hi Kristin! I haven’t heard of them I’m afraid. Shanghai isn’t the place for me but that doesn’t mean it’s not the place for you! Lots of people like Beijing and Guangzhou to teach in. The south west is also incredibly beautiful but you need to decide how ‘remote’ you can really handle. Shanghai is incredibly ‘comfortable’ but was just too comfortable for me.

  2. Hi Alice,

    Thank you for the fun and informative post. It´s cool to see that you are really doing what you love and enjoying life.

    I have lived in China for a year and did shaolin kungfu at the temple. Now I am back in the Netherlands and I have been looking for a job as English teacher for 2 years now. The fact is that I am not a English native speaker and therefore it´s hard to get a job now I am not in China anymore. Do you have any advice for me or do you know any schools/ contacts that do hire non-native speakers.

    Thanks a lot.

    • Hi Rinesh! I’ll agree with you that it’s harder to get a job as an English Teacher not being a native speaker BUT you do not need to be a native speaker to teach English. Truthfully, there are more non-native TEFL instructors around the world than native ones :) Do you have a TEFL course? That will really help you get ahead of others and show that you’re committed to teaching English. MyTEFL have really good courses and Teacake readers get 35% off which is cool! You can find out more here.

    • Nope, it’s not an issue :) You do not need to be a native speaker to teach English. In fact there are more non-native TEFL instructors around the world than native ones! A TEFL course will provide additional benefits to non-native speakers through the comprehensive Grammar and Functions sections in some of the MyTEFL courses. Some employers may prefer native English speakers but completing a myTEFL course will show your commitment and that you mean business

  3. Love this guide Alice. Will certainly be doing the TEFL course over the next few months. Do you think there are many opportunities available for teachers without a degree?

    • Hey Ant! Great to hear you’re embarking on an awesome new adventure :D There are certainly many opportunities for teachers without a degree. Where are you hoping to teach? I recommend Thailand as a good starting place!

      • Hey Alice. Really keen on teaching in China. I will be travelling throughout South East Asia from September though. Was thinking of getting some teaching experience through volunteering whilst in between travelling.

  4. Taught English in China for the last two years with my boyfriend and thought you had some really great insights!

    We taught in a rural area in the mountains of Southwestern China, though, and I definitely hear you about it being “remote.” It was super beautiful, though, but big cities with more expats are definitely better for novices.

    Would love to chat with you more (: Check out our blog, if you can.

  5. Thanks for this very interesting post! I’m super interested in teaching in China. I never really do research for a job before I go to the country itself (feeling if I like the place and such is important to me). I was wondering if it would be hard to apply for a working visa if I’m already in the country or if the schools would help me with that. Do you have any info about this? Thanks! :)

    • Hi Cynthia! The schools will certainly be able to help you out with this. You might have to leave the country and come back in (might!). Every school is different but like I recommend in my guide to teaching English, I think it’s best to hunt on the ground in the country you want to teach in. You’ll find better jobs this way.

  6. I loved teaching English in China when I was out there in 2004-2006, and private tutoring was definitely the way to go. Also good to look for summer or winter camps in other parts of the country, so you can travel across China for free (although it’s pretty cheap anyway!) – I found some great jobs through Dave’s ESL Cafe.

    Oh, and the best (ie, sweetest) food is in the south: loved living in Guangdong!

  7. Hello!
    Love your blog, have been reading for years but am only now taking steps to teach abroad!
    Do you have a good way of testing the validity of a company before you arrange to work with them? I have an interview for the Explore China programme for TEFLUK.Com and can’t seem to find many reviews, etc.
    Can you help?
    Thanks, Sophie

    • Hi Sophie! This can be a problem in the teaching world – there’s a lot of companies and you sometimes just don’t know how good they are! Personally I haven’t heard of the Explore China Programme – and like you, I would do a lot of research online and speak to the company personally. The biggest thing you can do though is try and find others who have worked for them already – this can be done through a Facebook search. Find people who have been through it :)

  8. Hi Alice.Your blog is truely amazing. I am a non native english speaker. I want to teach english in China for one semester and ten backpack in Europe. Can you suggest some website or company that hires non native teachers for short time period?
    It would really be helpful. Thank you [sending you some kickass energy] ;p

    • Hi Vatika. Thanks for the extra kickass energy! :) It’s becoming increasing difficult to teach in China these days but there are still definitely jobs out there! I honestly would recommend asking on the ground once you reach China for a short-term job. By meeting employers face-to-face they will see your skills immediately. Applying to teach in China can take time if you’re applying online. Be confident and ask face-to-face instead.

  9. I have worked with EF previously. I found World International English has become more reputable in Guangzhou, and their treatment of staff is quite good. I could come and go, the staff allow you to roam around as a teacher, and the students were interested in classes too.


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