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Posted 08 Feb, 2013 | Posted in: China, Teaching English, Travel Blogs | 46 Comments

So you’ve gone over our Teaching English In China: Getting Started FAQs and now you have questions about the job itself. Here you will find the answers you need and if you’re finished reading and you still have more questions, you can feel free to comment below and we will get back to you ASAP.  There is no doubt that teaching English in China is a great job, but what makes it so great? What should you expect? What will you be expected to do? Here you will find the answer to those questions and many more.

How Much Is An English Teacher's Salary In China?
How Much Is An English Teacher’s Salary In China?

1.How many hours will I have to work and how much will I get paid teaching English in China

This will vary greatly depending on your contract and location but generally a good contract will pay you around 9000 RMB / month and will require that you work around 20 hours / week. Do the math on this equation and you should expect other contracts to pay you a similar hourly wage (around 110 RMB / hour). For more on hours, wage and more, see our Getting Started section.

2.How many students are in a classroom?

The number of students in a classroom will vary depending on what kind of school you work for. Public schools have as many as 50 students, while many private schools limit class numbers to around 12. You should ask the school how many students are in a class  before you sign the contract. Teaching English can be exhausting and if you are not used to controlling 50 students, you should probably search for a school with limited class sizes.

teaching english in china
Nick with one of his primary level classes. Yangzhou, China

3.Is there anyone else in the class with me? Do I get help while teaching?

T.A Helping With Class Teaching English In China
T.A Helping With Class

Generally there will be a T.A (teaching assistant) with you in every class. The T.A is NOT there to translate to the students, although they sometimes do as a last resort teaching method. The T.A is simply there to help you control the class, keep the kids in line and supply you with any teaching materials you may need before and during a lesson. The T.A’s are your best friends so treat them well and  communicate with them to keep the class running smoothly.

4.How do I teach English in China if I don’t speak Chinese? Is there a translator?

If you are teaching English in China at a reputable school, there will likely be rules in place to ensure the students learn in a 100% English environment. You will not need to speak Chinese or translate the language to the students if you present it in such a way that they can understand. For this, proper planning and use of realia can be crucial. If worst comes to worst, the students often have a separate Chinese class, where they are able to catch up on any language they did not understand in your class. There are two words you will find yourself calling out to your students frequently: “NO CHINESE!”

5.What is a lesson plan and how do I write one?

Teaching English In China Lesson Plan
A Typical Lesson Plan. Basically Shows A Timeline Of Games And Drilling

If you took a CELTA/TEFL/TESOL course, you should already have a firm grasp on writing lesson plans. Basically, a lesson plan is a detailed timeline of what you will teach in your lesson. There will likely be a beginning or “entrance” to your class, a warmer to get your students interested, a review of the previously taught material, phonics practice (B = banana etc.), an introduction of new vocabulary and language or grammar points (sentences).

The photo below is a lesson plan written for a primary class and although it’s messy, it’s concise and it follows the class structure required by our school. During your first week at your new school you will likely be offered a training schedule, where you will learn all of the basics of lesson planning, classroom management and the details of the curriculum that your school requires you to follow, as well as other helpful pointers that will aid you while teaching English in China.

6.What other duties will I have besides teaching English?

A Couple Of Students
A Couple Of Students

This also depends on your school and contract, but if you’re teaching English in China, you’ll probably have to do more than just teach English. Many jobs will require you to do some promotion work, level checks, office hours and demos. Promotion work is basically just going to a public place like a mall or a library (accompanied by your T.A) and use your foreign face as an ad campaign for the school. You will be expected to talk to kids, smile and maybe do some level checks for potential new students.

Level checks are basically just a series of questions that you will ask students before they start with your school, these questions are written down in such a way so that you can discover what level a student should start at, depending on which questions they were able to answer. Office hours are basically just filler hours, if you’ve signed a contract to work 20 hours / week but there are only enough classes to have you teach for 15 hours then you will likely have to make up the extra time by hanging out in the office, doing level checks, writing lesson plans and doing demos. Demos are classes created for parents to see what the lessons are like in your school before they pay the enrollment fee. It will generally just be a regular class with parents watching and if you’re good, they will sign up and enlist their child with the school. NO PRESSURE!

7.How many paid holidays will I recieve each year?


Again, this depends entirely on your contract, but generally speaking there are around 11 national holidays throughout the year, and most contracts will offer another 10 days on top of this. So you will probably get 2 weeks holidays (including the weekends) and 1 day/month on average paid holiday. If you work for a school that shuts down during the Spring Festival then you may have as much as 5 weeks off, but this time may or may not be paid, depending on your contract.

8.Are there tutoring jobs available for extra money?

teaching in china
Dariece With Her Students

Yes. Once you have started teaching at your school you will probably learn about multiple opportunities for tutoring and other ways to make some quick cash. If you live in a place with few foreigners, your face will stand out and ultimately land you some good opportunities. Most teaching contracts will require you to inform your employer of any extra tutoring jobs you pick up and almost all will forbid you from tutoring your own students or students that go to your school. Tutors usually charge between 100-250 RMB / hour.

9.Will I receive a bonus for completing my contract?

Most likely, yes. Almost all contracts signed for teaching English in China will include some sort of end of contract bonus. There are often flight reimbursements that can be as much as $1500 as well as retention bonuses (for keeping your students) and attendance bonuses.

10.Will I be required to work at outside locations?
This will depend entirely on your contract, but many schools do contract out their teachers to other schools in the area. Especially if you are teaching in a rural part of China where foreign teachers are few and far between.

Kindergarden Outside Location
Kindergarden Outside Location

For more on Teaching English In China see:

TEACHING ENGLISH IN CHINA: INSPIRATION FOR CHANGE

10 REASONS TO START TEACHING ENGLISH IN CHINA

TEACHING ENGLISH IN CHINA: GETTING STARTED FAQ’S

THE COST OF LIVING IN CHINA

CHINA TRAVEL BLOGS

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46 thoughts on “Teaching English In China: FAQ’s About The Job

  1. I recently started reading your articles on this site and so far I have enjoyed all of them. I may have missed it but do you have any information on any particular schools or recruiters that would be a good choice for someone fresh out of college to get started with in China? I am almost tempted to just fly to China for a few weeks and search around but that would preferably be a last resort.

    1. Hello Chadd!

      We’re so sorry, I don’t know how this comment got missed!

      We teach at Shane English School and we can recommend it. They have schools all over China, Japan, Vietnam, Poland, South Africa and Taiwan.

      If you’re interested in teaching at Shane, let us know and we’ll get you some contact info.

      We found ourselves travelling in China and just ended up looking for a job when we were here…but it all worked out!

      Again, sorry for the delayed reply.
      Cheers!

      1. How hard is it having light brown skin / black American female to get a teaching job in china? What part of china is better for me to work an be accepted

        1. Hello!

          Unfortunately, Chinese people are very weird about who they want teaching English to their kids. For some reason, they think that you have to have white skin in order to speak the language properly! They don’t even want other Asian people teaching them (even if that Asian person grew up in America!) However, having said that, I can tell you that in Shanghai there are some African American teachers and I’m assuming there are in many of the other larger cities in China. Also, we had a teacher from Colombia at our school, he obviously had darker skin as well 🙂

          I’m sure you will find something! Good luck to you.

  2. How difficult is it to get proper teaching creds for China? I only have a couple years of college and major was not teaching. Whom do you recommend to go thru to get them and can the classes be done online..? I would ABSOLUTELY LOVE to do this and having recently divorced-My ex’s idea of travel was a 4-5 star hotel looking at the Eiffel Tower, with no backpacks or street food involved…Lobster Taste, Beer Budget… Also, how long might someone be able to go with only 5K as a travel budget…Willing to work occasionally .Current job barely pays 30K a year so VERY DIFFICULT TO SAVE $$.. with fuel, rent, groceries, utilities…

  3. Hey TJ,
    Thanks for the comment. I have some good news for you! You really don’t need any “creds” to teach in China. You can get a job quite easily here with no CELTA/TEFL and no University Degree although a CELTA or TEFL would be a valuable asset to have. If you want, you could do a quick online teaching certification that you could complete in a week or so, and then start applying for jobs on ESL Daves. We got jobs without any degrees or teaching qualifications, but we received extensive training upon arrival to China. You can expect to make around 9000¥ here which is around $1500 / month. Doesn’t sound like a lot but there are no taxes and living expenses are so cheap that you easily be able to save enough to travel around. After a year you could have $9000 saved, enough to travel around southeast asia for 6 months!
    As for the travel budget, it depends on where you’re travelling. You can get by on as little as $30/ day in places like Southeast Asia, here in china I’d think around $50 including lots of transport. If you’re working a bit you could extend your trip but most teaching contracts in China will want you for a year.
    Looks like your about to make a big change and when we made the decision to change our life, it was ALL for the best.
    Good luck and if you have any more questions feel free to ask!

  4. When you say you got extensive training when you got to China, how..? I see classes but none for a week…I’ll keep looking.. Maybe a bit “nervous”?? Excited?? Anything else you would be able to tell me about the training experience or difficulties to be aware of..? How long have you lived in China? Sorry, just trying to cover all my bases of awareness and cut back on early mistakes..=) Best Always, and Many Thanks, TJ.

    1. Hi TJ, I believe we emailed you our answers to this, but just wanted to reply here to make sure.

      We were given training directly through our school. They tutored us on the books, the school, how to do lesson plans, etc. We were then sent to the main office in Shanghai for extra training.

      We lived in China for one year in Yangzhou. We loved our experience there and can highly recommend Shane English School.

      Cheers!

  5. Just a heads up…under #6, last sentence, should be “their”. My apologies, but I figured under the circumstances you’d rather know.

    I’m considering teaching in China. I have a good undergrad degree from a university and about (12) years of solid business experience, but zero classroom teaching experience.

    Curious if you know of any schools/cities that are near meditation and/or martial arts temples that you’ve heard of, or would recommend. Strongly considering a “walk the Earth” adventure.

    Thanks…nice to see some information more recent than 2005.

    1. wow, that’s pretty bad for English Teachers! Thanks for the heads up Justin, we’ve edited that.

      We haven’t heard of any schools that are near any meditation centers or martial arts temples. There definitely aren’t any in Yangzhou. Your best bet is to probably check out the bigger cities: Beijing, Shanghai, Nanjing, etc.

      Curious to know what a “walk the Earth” adventure is?

      Sorry for not being of more help to you, but let us know if you have any other questions!\

      Cheers.

  6. I guess this makes me a roadie…

    When you say 20 hours of work/week, are you referring to 20 classroom hours or 20 total hours (including promotion work, level checks, office hours and demos)?

    If it was 20 total, how did you find that job

    1. Hey Michael,

      Yes, it was 20 hours / week. Some weeks it was more like 17 hours. It all depended on whether or not we had meetings or promotion to go to. There were a couple of weeks when it was 23 hours, but that was an exception.

      We found the job visa Dave’s ESL cafe. We were hooked up with a recruiter who in turn found us the position at Shane English School. It was a great job 🙂

      Cheers.

  7. Hi Goats on the Road,

    I was looking to teach English in China, I find it really hard to find out where the best place is to teach. I agree that it depends on preferences, I’ve emailed Shane English School based on your recommendations. I’ve emailed some recruiters on Dave Esl Cafe but find that some are not replying or if they are replying I can’t understand what they’re trying to ask me.

    Would it possible for you to email the recruiter that you spoke to? I was interested in going in January to avoid winter since I live in Canada as well. Just wanted to say your blog is quite inspirational as well!

    I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

    Best Regards,
    Susan

    1. Hi Susan,

      Deciding which city to teach in really does depend on your interests, the things you want to experience while in China and the things that you don’t want to experience! For example, if you don’t want to deal with cold winters (like in Canada), then you probably don’t want to teach in Dalian for example or Harbin. If you really want to have an authentic Chinese city, then you don’t want to live in Shanghai. If you want a mix of western comforts and Chinese lifestyle as well, then maybe Beijing, Nanjing, Xian, Guilin, etc. For us, we wanted to be fully immersed and chose Yangzhou because there’s not many foreigners there at all.

      What sorts of things are the recruiters emailing you about? You can email our friend, helper and recruiter for the Yangzhou Shane English School if you like. His name is Standy: [email protected]

      Good luck! Let us know if you have more questions.

  8. Hello my name is Brandon Glazik and I’m interested in teaching at Shane English School in Wuhan. I was wanting to know if there are any positions open? I’m currently in Daye just about two hours outside Wuhan. I’m an American in China.

  9. Hey guys,

    I dropped you a quick email, am sure you’ve become a quick typist keeping up with all the questions 😉

    One thing I forgot to ask is when does the school / academic year start? Been in Thailand for three years but not sure I can just up and leave to get to China before the new school year.

    Dean

    1. Hey Dean 🙂

      The School year for elementary students begins at the end of August/early September depending on the year.

      However, that doesn’t really matter. In China, they will hire new teachers at any times of the year (at least in our school they did).

      We started teaching at the beginning of July, and other teachers were staggered throughout the year. I think they do (did) this because they don’t want all of the teachers finishing contracts all at the same time and have to train a bunch of new teachers at once. It’s nice to have some of the “old” teachers around to explain things, show them around, etc.

      I hope this helps!

  10. Hey Brandon & Dean,

    Merry Christmas from the snowy east coast! (Lancaster, Pa.)

    My name is Christopher and I taught English in Korat, Thailand earlier this year, got my TEFL there, and loved it. Pay isn’t great there (45K baht = $1,500) but the overall culture (food, travel, etc.) were amazing, cheap to live and worth it. I only stayed 6 months because my son lives back home here in the states, however, full-time teaching jobs are few and far between these days.

    Anyway, I have a couple cultural / job questions for you Brandon. I’m going to Shenzhen, China in February on a short 4-month contract for 14,500 RMB monthly, with a 6,000 RMB end of contract bonus (for flight/travel). Housing is included in the salary and was told is around 3,000 a month. Can you tell me if that sounds like a decent deal overall? I researched a little and hear Shenzhen is near Hong Kong and very expensive. It’s a solid salary but can I save $1000 a month for 4 months before flying back home? This is assuming I live the “Chinese” life (food, travel), etc., which I will try.

    Secondly, is it true that Chinese people are less friendly than Thais and other Asians? The Thais are Buddhist and, for the most part, are extremely warm and friendly. Brandon, sounds like you feel the Chinese are similar but I’ve heard horror stories that include natives pushing and shoving foreign teachers on subways, etc.

    Thanks for all the advice. The feedback is greatly appreciated!

    Chris

    1. Hey Chris,

      Yes, it’s a pretty good deal!

      You should be able to save a lot of money living a Chinese lifestyle – eating local food, buying a bicycle, not going out to bars (just drinking local beer instead of imported booze), etc.

      Shenzhen is more expensive to live in than other places in China, but your wage is pretty good. FYI – if you like wine, the cost of imported wine is very cheap in Hong Kong 🙂

      As an example, here’s how much money we were able to save while living in Yangzhou after one year:

      https://www.goatsontheroad.com/teaching-china-save-21000-dollars/

      To answer your other question, in our opinion, the people of China are some of the most kind people in the world. They’re very curious about westerners, have loads of questions, even though many don’t speak English, they always try to communicate. We didn’t have a single negative incident happen to us, and we were there for 14 months.

      I hope this helps you out 🙂
      Cheers!

  11. Hey GOTR,

    Another quick one – I’ve taught in Thailand for three years, but most who “teach” in government schools know that it’s not teaching, especially with the younger kids (Mathayom 1’s), it’s essentially babysitting.

    I did a TEFL course yonks ago, but a pretty pathetic one. Do you reckon it’d help to do an updated teaching course, or do you think I’d be ok? I see lots of schools that side give some kinda upfront guidance in terms of how they do things.

    Thanks!
    Dean

    1. I think you would be ok.

      At our school, we observed other teachers in their classes for 2 weeks. We were also sent to Shanghai for training for a weekend. On top of that, we were given training by the Academic Manager for 2 weeks. She showed us how to do the lesson plans, answered all our questions and was a great help.

      Good luck 🙂

  12. Thanks! That sounds promising.

    Far from the “you’ve got the job, we won’t speak to you or acknowledge you again from this point” mindset in Thailand 🙂

    Dean

  13. You’ve been a great help, thanks 🙂

    I’m from South Africa (white obviously). My girlfriend booked a plane ticket to Guangzhou, but apparently in the last few months, due to the fraudulent activity, the Chinese have put a ban on giving working visa’s (“Z Visa’s”?) to anyone from Africa, South Africa included.

    I heard this from an agency (Network ESL), who seem to be legitimate.

    I think we should change the ticket to elsewhere, but neither of us have a clue about China. Do you have any suggestions where we could head to for a few days trip, perhaps where there’s a Shane English School or other opportunities?

    So frustrating when countries take the blanket approach and restrict South Africa because of illegal activity stemming from Africa or African’s.

    I’d really be grateful for any input 🙂
    Dean

    1. Hey Dean,

      Sorry to hear about the issues you’re having. You’ll want to make sure that you have a “Z” visa for when you start working at a school. You can enter China on a Tourist Visa and then once you have the job, the school can help you apply for a Z visa. If you don’t have a Z visa, then techinically it’s illegal for you to work, plus, you’ll have to make border runs when your tourist visa runs out – not ideal.

      Here’s a list of Shane Schools in China:
      http://www.shane.com.cn/shane/Area.asp

      You could also fly into Hong Kong and go to China by land?

      I hope you guys figure everything out 🙂

      Good luck.

    1. I can tell you that we had an 18 year old teaching at our School and I know of a 55 year old teaching as well 🙂

      So, as long as you’re 18 I suppose you can get a job. However, if you have a university degree or a TESOL, you’ll have more job opportunities.

      Hope this helps.

  14. Thanks a lot guys, exactly the same as Thailand – you’re either on a tourist visa and doing visa runs, or you’re on a work permit through the school ..

    Thanks for the link to the Shane schools.

    Have a good weekend!

  15. Hello!

    I am currently looking for an ESL teaching job in China, and I want to ask is it a huge problem to find an ESL job there if you are a non-native speaker? I have a bachelor degree, TESOL certificate and 2 years of teaching experience in Russian public school. Also my IELTS score is pretty high. However I am not sure should I send a CV to schools who want “native speaker from US, UK, Australia etc.”?

    Thanks in advance
    Katya

    1. Hi Katya,

      Basically, what it boils down to is how good your pronunciation is and (unfortunately) that you are white skinned. We have friends from Poland who are teaching English, and also know of people from Colombia. So, if you have all of the credentials you say you do, I’m sure you would find a job.

      Good luck!

  16. Howdy,

    So, you’re telling me all I need to teach English in China is to be a native English speaker and a pale friendly face? I reckon I’m over qualified! Haha! But on a serious note, I am heavily contemplating moving to mainland China come around November or December when I’ve finished up on the farm. I should have about ~5 grand saved up. Reckon that would be enough to get my passport, shots, plane ticket and sustain myself for at most a month until I’ve found myself a teaching job? I know I could just go look that up, but, thought I might ask anyway since I’m typing all this up. Also, I don’t know if you’d know or not, but around where you’re at, what’s the average mood towards cannabis? Iaak BC who would better know rhan someone whom lives there?! I know its a class 4 drug (well, if I remember correctly) but I also know ya can get away with quite a bit in China if ya keep it on the down low and don’t go around waving the stuff in folks’ faces. Not admitting I smoke myself or anything, just curious.

    1. Hi Lee,

      Wow, this reply to your comment is very late! I’m so sorry, I don’t know how this comment was missed 🙁

      Teaching English in China is a great experience, and although all you officially need is to be a native English speaker (and many prefer a light-skinned face), a university degree and a TEFL certificate…we also recommend that people are really interested in teaching children and young adults the language. It may seem like an easy job, but it can be overwhelming and exhausting!

      Having $5,000 to get started should be plenty!

      Regarding weed, it’s illegal in China, and we’re not the right people to ask! Sorry 😉 Enjoy your time in China, it’s a great country.

  17. Hi goats
    Thank you for your response on another page.
    I was just wondering would it be possible to get a teaching job with children in tow. They will be 15.12 and 8. I looked into voluntary work previously where some allow children but it works out expensive you also have to pay to volunteer. I want to travel with the children and educated them as I do so. This is something I have been looking at for a good few years at first I thought I would need to wait till they are 18 but the kore research I have done the more I think we should do this as soon as possible as a family I think the experiences would be invaluable. Living in England doing the 9-5 living like robots day in day out is depressing and not for me. I look at everyone around me stuck in this mainstream system thinking this isn’t life. I want out , I want to see the would experience cultures and live life. Just planning ways to make this possible. Many thanks Natasha

    1. Hi Natasha 🙂

      I think you have a great idea about taking your children with you to experience China and to create invaluable memories. I also agree that the 9-5 mainstream life isn’t “life”. Do you mean that you want your kids to come to class with you every day as you teach English? Sorry, I’m just not sure I’m fully understanding the question.

  18. Hi Goats. Thanks for sharing your experiences with us.What sort of questions are asked in an interview for a teaching post. I do not have any teaching experience and very nervous about knowing nothing about teaching.
    Pumla

    1. They will ask you about your previous experience (volunteering, coaching, anything like that would help), they’ll want to know your age, they’ll ask you to tell them about yourself. They’ll want to know why you want to teach, and why you’ll be a good teacher for them.

      Don’t be nervous! Try to get them to do it by email…that way you have time to think of answers for the questions 🙂

      Good luck.

  19. Hi Nick,

    I have enjoyed reading the comments and questions on this page, really informative, thank you. I have emailed Standy as I am hoping to find work teaching little ones, I prefer little kids as I have never taught before and think for first time teaching this may be the way forward? Plus I love kids. I am in my 40’s feeling drained from the misery of 9-5 robotic existence, I need a shake up! I travelled a lot when I was younger and I am trying to find my old self…if she still exists, (I guess she does otherwise I wouldn’t even be thinking about hot footing it to China for a year!) I am a bit afraid but more afraid of staying here and wasting what’s left of my life. My question is, am I too old?
    Is teaching difficult for first timers and will I be able to do it with just my online TEFL? I know I can get the work I just want to know how easy/difficult it will be on that first day! I am not the most outgoing person when I first meet people but once I settle and get to know people I am fine, if I feel comfortable I am quite confident. Is it easy to meet other expats/teachers? I am a vegetarian, I like peace and quiet and fresh air, I don’t want to be in a huge smoggy city. I have a Skype interview set up with Web International English school in Ruago City Jiangsu, any info on this school/ city/area anyone?
    Any information much appreciated,

    Thank you
    Louise

    1. hi goats

      my name is ayanda from south africa I’ve been made an offer of RMB 5000 per month they are going to pay for my accomodation ..My teaching hours will be 15 hours a week.They said I can get other gig that will supplement this salary.What do you think about this offer is it fair? How much can I make on other teaching jobs.I have a degree and TEFL certificate

      1. Hi! Thanks for commenting. I’d say 5,000 would be a bit low. Most teachers make at least 8000 RMB / month also, health insurance, all flights, language classes and accommodation. We’re currently recruiting for an excellent school in China and we can try to get you a better salary if you send us an email with your resume, degree & tefl.

    2. Hi Louise,

      I don’t know much about Web International, but I do know that you’re not too old! You’ll meet other foreigners and locals and we had two vegetarians at our school, but you’ll need to be a loose vegetarian as many vegetable meals have small pieces of meat! If you haven’t yet found a job, please send us your resume and details and we can help to find you a job with Shane English School. Please send it by email. an online TEFL and degree is needed. Good luck 🙂

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