The English language market is growing fast in China as the country emerges as a global financial force; improving English is a major focus for the Chinese. Chinese teaching jobs offer a competitive salary, which includes a variety of benefits, depending on the type of school. If you’re after big city, bright lights head to Beijing or Shanghai, but for a real historical understanding of Chinese culture the top of the list is Xi'an. Other popular teaching cities include the provincial capitals Kunming and Chengdu. 

Teaching English in China is a rewarding and memorable experience. Take the enchanting city of Xi'an for example; here you can walk 10 to 15 minutes to work, teach English to lively bunch of keen-to-learn primary school kids and then hop onto your bike (cycling in Xi'an is very popular) with a friend and take in the sights and sounds of the 3,000-year-old city.

You can expect class sizes to be up to 30 or 50 students, so be sure that a) you like kids and b) you’ve got a sense of humour to deal with the monkey business that comes with the territory. But when you’re not in the classroom you’ll have the opportunity to explore China’s sprawling metropolises and peaceful countryside – the beauty of teaching English in China is the feeling of being somewhere new every day. While you’ll soon develop a routine around going to work, every day you’ll see something you’re not used to – from ancient winding alleys, warrior statues and Chinese gardens to pork dumplings and the Great Wall – you’ll have your work cut out exploring China’s magic.

With our teach English in China partners you can stay for a few weeks, several months or longer. You don’t need a university degree but for most jobs it is essential you complete a 140-hour TEFL course and, in most placements, you’ll get accommodation and three square meals a day, which means you can save more of your salary for travel.

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Top 3 tips for teaching English in China

  • Get an insider's perspective about the pros and cons of that specific location in China by asking for the email address of another foreign teacher at the place where you are considering teaching.
  • Don’t come empty-handed: Bring some English teaching books with you because not all schools will provide you with a curriculum. Also bring some fun stuff to give away - those clip on koalas go down a treat, as well as Australian money and photos of your family to show and tell.
  • Learn the basics: While knowing the local language isn’t a prerequisite, it’ll help you in your day-to-day life if you can swing a little Mandarin to get by.

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Before you go – checklist:

The travel stuff

  • Visa appropriate for China;

  • Passport with at least six months' validity;

  •  Travel insurance.

The teaching stuff

  • Complete TEFL course – online or classroom course options (if applicable);

  • You’ll need to be a native English speaker;

  • Make sure your CV is updated and ready to go for the application process;

  • Ensure you have appropriate TEFL Teaching Resources such as lesson activities, lesson plans, classroom and teacher resources, theory and research, and additional resources;

  • Purchase an English dictionary, a grammar book and supplies in case these items are not readily available.

Personal admin

  • Let AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) know you’re leaving the country so you don’t get wacked with fines for not voting if there’s a local or national election on the horizon;

  • Make sure your drivers licence is valid for a while or apply for an international drivers licence;

  • Make copies of your documentation (i.e., passport, visas, birth certificate, etc.);

  • Photocopy all documents including insurance particulars, record the numbers of your credit cards, passport, and airline tickets and give to a responsible family member or friend at home;

  • Bring additional passport photos to ease the process of replacing a lost or stolen passport, or if other official documents are required once you are in your destination country.

Medical

  • Medical – do you have you have all the drug prescriptions you need, including your glasses/ contact lens prescription if you wear them?

  • Pack a spare pair of glasses and contact lenses (if you wear them);

  • Have you had all the relevant shots/immunisations for China? And pack a list of the injections you’ve had just in case;

  • Visit your dentist to have a clean and checkup before you jet.

Finances

  • Tax – let the ATO know you’re leaving the country;

  • Apply for any credit and debit cards for travel;

  • Notify your bank and close any accounts that might charge you fees while you’re away;

  • Money – take approximately $AU200 with you as universal currency;

  • Pay off any debts you have with friends, family or financial intuitions;

  • Cancel any automatic withdrawals you have from your bank account.

Practical

  • Pack your camera, batteries and chargers;

  • Buy an international power adaptor suitable for China;

  • Invest in a good backpack;

  • Don't forget all your electronic chargers;

  • Note all your insurance and emergency numbers in a safe place;

  • Pack an extra memory card for your camera

  • Know the address of the Australian embassy in China (the Australian Embassy is in Beijing with Consulate-Generals in other cities).

The not-so obvious

  • Foam earplugs (to block out noisy travel buddies or offer to others if you’re the noisy one!);

  • A good book – or a novel based in China - it adds an interesting perspective when you explore these destinations (try The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan);

  • If you have more than one credit card, separate them. Perhaps store one in your wallet and the other in your luggage. That way if you lose one or the other you’ll still have access to cash;

  • Collect Australian souvenirs (those little clip-on koalas go down a treat) to give out to your students;

  • Purchase a few educational games or children’s word association games;

  • Collect glossy catalogues and magazines with lots of pictures; these are hard to find in English and students love them!

  • Find out what is considered to be proper attire in your classroom, including shoes, as well as weather-appropriate clothing for your time in China.

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