Will I need teaching experience to teach English in China?
No, not necessarily. However, as a minimum you will need a university degree, a TEFL/ TESOL certificate, a clear criminal record, and lots of patience and enthusiasm! Please note that certain provinces have stricter requirements to issue a work visa, and may ask for evidence of some teaching related experience – many provinces are not as strict.
If you do have formal teaching experience, that’s wonderful; it is likely that you will be able to command a higher salary.
Opportunity China can begin to find you a position at a Chinese school before you graduate from University, have left your current role or have started your TEFL/ TESOL training. Learn more about discounted online TEFL courses
Do I need to be able to speak any Mandarin?
In a word…No. Each school will have at least one English speaking liaison and many schools will provide Teaching Assistants which can speak English and will assist in areas such as classroom management and student feedback. However, we would encourage you to learn a few basics before departing for China, and do not forget to take a phrase book!
Some schools provide free Mandarin classes. If not, you’ll easily be able to arrange lessons with a local person for around £3/ $5 to £6/ $7 per hour, or even arrange a language ‘swap’ where you exchange English lessons for Mandarin lessons!
What salary can I expect?
We only work with schools which guarantee a minimum salary of 7000RMB per month; approximately £700, and about the same salary as a doctor in China. This is enough to live very comfortably on in, especially as your accommodation is usually provided free and many schools have complimentary canteen meals for teachers.
Many of our partner schools pay between RMB8000- RMB11,000 a month. Teachers with 2 years prior experience can earn up to RMB17,000 a month. Learn more about salaries.
Can I earn any extra money on top of my salary?
Yes, many English teachers opt to deliver private tuition work that pays a decent hourly rate. Private tuition tends to take place in public places or in pre-prepared classrooms.
You should check that your school allows this; most schools do not mind on the basis that you do not tutor any of their students, however it is wise to check their policy.
Do I need a visa to teach in China? If so how do I get one?
Yes you will need a visa for China. All Opportunity China’s Coordinators have extensive knowledge on the work ‘z’ visa application process and will support you step-by-step throughout the process, and our various guidance and support resources will be there to guide you.
In line with new policy changes implemented 2017, documents such as a degree certificate and police check need to be notarized and legalized before a school can begin a teacher’s work visa application. The following page will guide you through the process.
What are the living costs in China like?
Although prices in China are rising, and tend to be much higher in cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, China is still exceptionally cheap and foreign teachers enjoy a very comfortable lifestyle. Many teachers enjoy frequent traveling, restaurant meals, massages and nights out.
Here are some examples of what you would expect to pay for every day items: bowl of noodles – 5 RMB (50p), large beer – 5RMB (50p), 10 minute taxi ride – 10RMB (£1), 30 minute massage 40RMB (£4), cinema ticket -60RMB (£6), a tailor made suit – 500RMB (£50).
Each of our City Guides include a cost of living guide so you can compare and contrast the daily costs of living in various Chinese cities.
Will I have an opportunity to travel?
Yes, and we would encourage you to explore this beautiful country! Most teachers use weekends, public holidays and their annual leave to venture to other parts of China, as well as countries such as Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. Domestic flights are inexpensive, trains are numerous, and high speed services connect large cities.
As a guide, you can expect to pay the following prices:
One night in a mid range hotel – 350RMB, train from Ningbo to Shanghai – 220RMB, flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong – 800RMB.
How many hours a week would I be expected to work per week in a full time teaching position?
This will depend on the school you are teaching for.
As a guide, most private language centre contracts require 20-25 teaching hours per week, as well as some office hours.
Public school roles usually require 16-18 teaching hours per week, with few prescribed office hours; most teachers undertake planning in their own time.
Such information will always be stipulated in an employment contract.
Where could I be teaching?
Our partner schools are located across China and Hong Kong, including cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Chengdu, Shenyang, Foshan, Hangzhou and Guangzhou, to name just a few.
In your initial interview with us you will be asked if you have any preferences, or if there particular places you do not want to teach in. You will also be asked for any preferences you have regarding the age group of students you would ideally like to teach.
Our City Guides may help you to narrow down your preferred locations of work.
What sorts of institutions do Opportunity China work with?
Opportunity China have roles at a wide variety of institutions, including public kindergarten, middle and high schools, universities, as well as private language centres for small children right through to adults.
The monthly salary at private language centres tends to be a little higher (RMB9000- 14000 dependent on location and experience), but the hours are longer. Teachers at private language centres might be asked to help with student marketing and recruitment activities, and be paid bonuses when certain performance targets are met.
Public schools tend to pay a salary of approximately RMB8000-10000 per month, and will provide accommodation. The teaching hours are usually around 16-18 per week, Monday to Friday, with minimal office hours. They can offer a less pressured teaching environment.
Read more about the types of educational organisations that Opportunity China work with.
Read our blog post: public schools vs private language schools – the lowdown!
What will my accommodation be like?
Many partner schools will provide a teacher apartment as part of the contract which is located close to the school, and if not, a living allowance. The accommodation is likely to be more basic than what you might be used to, but it will be clean and safe.
Should you want to live somewhere slightly more luxurious or would prefer to choose an apartment yourself, as you will be paid a good wage you will be able to add a little of your salary to your accommodation allowance to privately rent an apartment. Learn more about accommodation.
Would I be able to teach any subjects other than English?
English is the subject in highest demand, therefore the vast majority of our partner schools require English teachers.
However, if you are qualified and have prior experience in teaching a particular subject, Opportunity China do have subject specific teaching positions available.
Will I have the chance to meet other teachers in my area?
The Opportunity China ambassador scheme enables you to link up with teachers already working for the school or institution that you are considering working for. This will enable you to find out more about the details and day-to-day of working for your prospective employer, as well as life in the city. It also allows you to build your network before you have even left your home country.
Most private language centres will have at least a couple of other English teachers working for them. Public schools are less likely to have a large community of teachers, but some have a few.
Most large Chinese cities have big ex-pat communities, and you will easily meet other teachers in ex-pat restaurants, bars and sports teams.
Where possible, before you travel to China your Coordinator will link you up with other teachers working in the same city as you.
Is China a safe place to live?
The vast majority of locals are very welcoming and friendly towards foreigners in China, and the society in general is very safe due to its collectivist outlook. However, common sense and taking precautions should still be applied as you would in any foreign country.
We would also strongly recommend that you arrange an appointment with your travel nurse before you travel to China.
Do I need Travel or Medical Insurance?
Most schools will provide a local medical insurance policy, which is typically restrictive and will provide medical care at a limited number of local Chinese hospitals. Very few schools provide contents insurance to protect your belongings such as laptop, phone, passport etc.
There are many insurance policies and companies to choose from and Opportunity China has partnered with Endsleigh Insurance which specialises in long stay worldwide policies.
You should print out at least two copies of your policy, and keep one copy in your hand luggage. Ensure that you have noted the emergency contact number stated on the policy.
Can I break my 12 month contract?
Before signing a contract, it is very important to carefully consider your own personal situation and understand that you will be committed to working for a school for an entire year.
If unavoidable personal circumstances occur then we suggest that you address the situation in a professional, polite and understanding manner. This is likely to result in a better outcome. You can always contact Opportunity China for advice.
If you break your contract it is normal to forfeit certain elements of a contract, such as reimbursed flights, accommodation, and any end of contract bonus.
Give me a brief overview of your application process?
Please apply online. The application form will take a maximum of 10 minutes to complete, and will require a copy of your CV and a photograph. If your application has been successful a Coordinator will contact you within 3 working days to arrange an initial telephone or skype interview. The purpose of this conversation is for us to learn more about you and your experience, as well as any particular requirements you have for a role.
Should this interview go well, you’ll be contacted within 2 working days to inform you whether you have been successful. Your Coordinator will then begin to send you potential job roles to consider if you wish to travel to China ASAP, or 8-10 weeks before your preferred start date.
If you wish to be put forward for an interview we will liaise with the school to find a mutually convenient time, and will also provide some interview tips and guidance.
A school will usually make a hiring decision within 3-4 working days, and either Opportunity China will communicate this decision to you or the school will email you directly.
A contract is signed directly with the school.
Once a contract has been signed, you can begin the work visa application process.
Opportunity China are here to guide and support you from your initial point of application, right through to when you begin teaching.
How can I tailor my CV to make it suitable for securing a teaching position?
As with any job you apply for, it’s a good idea to tailor your CV for that job. Remember that a potential future employer who will read your CV may not be a native English speaker, so try to make your educational history and any relevant teaching or training experience very clear.
Do you have any advice for my Skype interview?
It’s important that present yourself well during a skype interview with a potential future employer.
Read our guidance page for more information on what to expect, and how to prepare.
I’ve been offered a position, and a school has sent me a contract. What should I look out for?
It is very important that you please note that your contract is signed between yourself and your employer (the school), not with Opportunity China. The contract should be signed prior to the visa application process starting.
The contract should be a thorough document noting the conditions of your salary, working hours, teaching hours per week, students per class, accommodation provision (if relevant), visa provision, medical insurance (if relevant), flight reimbursement (if relevant), conditions regarding overtime, and terms of the employer release letter.
Please review the contract very carefully when you receive it; if you feel that anything is missing or incorrect then you should raise any points before signing it. Your school or Coordinator will be pleased to provide guidance and answer any questions. Many contracts impose various fines should you break its clauses, so if something is not clear or you do not agree then the contract should not be signed.
Before signing a contract, it is very important to review your own personal situation and understand you are making a promise to your future students and employer that you are committed to work for them for the entire year.
If you are unsure about the position, do not sign a contract; wait until you find the right job role for you.
When should I book my flight?
We strongly advise that you do not purchase a plane ticket until your visa arrives at your home as any delays may mean you need to rebook your ticket, which could result in very high administration fees.
For a flexible ticket we recommend that you book your flight via a travel agent, who can clearly communicate the conditions of a particular ticket to you.
If you are just booking a one-way flight, and no flexibility is needed, we suggest you look at websites such as skyscanner.org, kayak.org or lastminute.com to get the best priced flight available.