So you’ve read our article about getting started teaching English in China, and now you have questions about the job itself. Here you will find the answers to your teaching in China questions, but if you finish reading and you still have more questions, you can feel free to comment below and we will get back to you ASAP.

Note: Teaching English was one of the jobs included in our epic list of 101 Best Travel Jobs. Check it out for more amazing jobs that you can do while you’re travelling so that your trip never has to end!

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.

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1. How many hours will I have to teach? How much will I get paid teaching in China?

This will vary greatly depending on your contract and location but generally a good contract will pay you over 10,000 RMB ($1,455) / month and will require that you work around 20 hours / week. However, right now there are teaching jobs in China at the school we personally worked for, and they are paying between 16,000 – 20,000 / month. That’s $2,325 – $2,910! Click here to learn more and to apply.

For more on hours, wage and more, see our Getting Started section.

teaching in china with shane english school
Cost of living in Yangzhou China vs. Philadelphia, USA

2. How many students are in a classroom?

The number of students in a classroom when you’re teaching in China 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 in china a class of CL07 students
Nick with one of his primary level classes. Yangzhou, China

Not sure if you want to pack up your life and move to China? There’s another option – you can Teach English online from home, or anywhere in the world! If you’re from Canada or the United States, check out VIPKID and get paid to teach English online to Chinese students. If you’re not from North America, don’t worry, you can still teach online. Check out our article for details:

Teach English Online: Get Paid With These Top 5 Companies

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

teaching in china you will have help from your teaching assistant
T.A Helping With Class

Generally there will be a T.A (teaching assistant) with you in every class that you’re teaching in China. 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 if I don’t speak Mandarin? Is there a translator?

If you are teaching English in China at a reputable school (such as Shane English School), there will likely be rules in place to ensure the students learn in a 100% English environment. You will not need to speak Mandarin 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 worse 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 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 in China.

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

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.

teaching in china flashcards with my student

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 receive 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 students in the classroom
Dariece With Her Students

Yes. Once you have started teaching in China 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. A better option, however, is to teach English online with VIPKid from the comfort of your apartment!

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

Most likely, yes. Almost all contracts signed for teaching 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. We personally had to work once a week at a nearby school for an hour.

teaching in China at a Kindergarden Outside Location
Kindergarden Outside Location

Teaching in China – The Best Job!

We highly recommend this job to anyone who is looking to live and work abroad, while learning about a new culture. As I said above, Shane English School is currently hiring and they are offering a high salary. Click here to learn more.

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Nick Wharton & Dariece Swift

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Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift are the owners and founders of Goats On The Road. Together they have been travelling and working abroad since 2008 and have more than 20 years of combined experience in online business, finance, travel and entrepreneurship. Their expert advice has been featured on the Lonely Planet, CNN Money, Business Insider,  WiseBread and Forbes and they also spoke at the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul about the business of travel blogging.

Learn more about Nick Wharton and Dariece Swift on their respective author archives on this site and on the Goats On The Road About Us Page.

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47 thoughts on “Teaching in China: Answering Your Frequently Asked Questions

  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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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…

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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!\


  8. 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

  9. 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.


  10. 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 🙂


  11. 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,