Top Questions Asked by Applicants During Interviews
One of my favourite aspects of my job is speaking with hundreds of teachers each year during their initial skype/ telephone interview with Opportunity China. At the end of each interview there’s time to ask questions, so here are the top questions I hear (on an almost daily basis!) from applicants who are considering teaching in China.
I understand that all schools provide accommodation – how does this work?
Accommodation while teaching in China always works in one of two ways; either an apartment is provided, or you are given a monthly allowance on top of salary to pay for an apartment.
If an apartment is provided, it may be a studio or may be a shared two-bedroom apartment with a teacher of the same gender – this depends on the school, and is something you’d know during the school matching process.
If you receive a monthly allowance, this is typically 75% -100% of rental cost of a studio/ one-bedroom apartment within the given city of work. With this option, your employer school will usually also give a start-up loan to assist with deposit and initial rental costs.
The great part about having your accommodation provided is that, unlike a job at home, this major monthly expenditure is taken care of – meaning more salary in your pocket!
Can I apply with my friend or partner?
Yes, absolutely – many of our applicants apply with a friend or partner, and work in the same school (separate campuses) or in the same city. If you wish, you can share an apartment – as an added bonus, this often works out less expensive!
Can I Send Money Home?
Yes, absolutely. Many teachers have loans or financial commitments at home – and it’s easy to save money. Sending money home involves some administration and patience, but it’s possible.
Firstly, get the swift code, sort code, IBAN, and all possible numbers from your home bank.
Not every Chinese bank will be able to help you transfer money, but most big branches should. You don’t need to be a member of the bank to transfer money, you just need to fill out the forms, pay a (smallish) transfer fee and have a lot of patience. There is a 500 USD daily limit on international transfers for foreigners in China. If that’s not enough for your needs you could ask a local trusted colleague to help.
An alternate option is Western Union, or similar. They’ll be able to send money to someone who can collect this from a bank / Western Union / Wall Mart / Post Office (depending on your home country).
Would a public school or language school be best suited to me?
Ah, a question asked by so many new teachers, and one that’s tricky to give a definitive answer to. Your Opportunity China Coordinator will listen to the aspects of a teaching role that are important to you, and will be able to suggest a suitable option. It’s a key part of your initial Opportunity China interview.
Typically speaking, public schools are more suited to those seeking a more ‘authentic’ China teaching experience, are comfortable in front of large groups of students, and whom are comfortable creating their own lessons with little input or supervision. The role requires a lot of autonomy, and little training – but comes with the perk of longer vacations!
Language centres are suited to those who would prefer a more structured and supportive environment, teaching a Western curriculum and having training on such curriculum. Often, you’d be working with other foreign teachers, and have a Western Manager.
What vacation time do I have off work?
This varies a little from school to school, and is something you would know during the school matching process.
Public school teachers have their main break over Chinese New Year, or ‘Spring Holiday’. The exact dates depend on the lunar calendar, but all public-school teachers in China have 3-4 weeks off at some point between late January and late February. You’ll then have around 2.5 weeks of public holidays through the year. The school year runs early September to early July.
Private language school teachers usually have 11 days of public holiday, plus Christmas Day, then typically a further 2 weeks of paid vacation time. Many schools offer the option of additional unpaid leave, and/or may shut for a week after their summer courses.
I’m concerned about internet restrictions and being able to contact my friends and family – can you give any reassurance?
Panic not – yes, many websites and social media are banned in China, such as google, facebook, youtube, instagram etc – however all teachers purchase and download a VPN on to their laptop, cell phone and tablet, which gives full access to all of these sites. This must be downloaded before entering China. Express VPN is recommended, see more about Express VPN here.
I have commitments at home. At which times of year can I start teaching in China?
Opportunity China accept applications on a year-round intake. Regarding start dates, it depends on the type of school you wish to work for. Public schools have start dates at the beginning of the school year early September, and beginning of the Spring semester typically mid-February.
Private language centres and some kindergartens have a year-round teacher intake, dependent on their teacher recruitment needs.
The Teach China Graduate Program has two teacher intakes per year; February, and August/ September.
The visa process seems complex. How long does it take?
This will very much depend on how many of the required documents you already hold. From the time you have your bachelor’s degree certificate, recent police check and 120 hour TEFL certificate OR reference letter evidencing 2 years of classroom teaching experience OR teaching licence, the process typically takes around 7 weeks – 3 weeks to authenticate documents, 3 weeks for the school to apply for your work permit in China, 1 week to apply for the Z visa in your home country.
Your Opportunity China Coordinator will guide you through the process, based on your individual situation, and also issue a Visa Checklist with detailed information for you to work through.
See more about the work visa process for China.
Can I go back home at Christmas?
In short, it’s quite difficult to do so. In China, Christmas is not a public holiday, although most teachers are given 25th December off work and celebrate with friends. December is mid-way through the semester, therefore teaching continues as normal. Read more here about Jonas’s Christmas in China. The main vacation time, and ‘Christmas equivalent’ in China is Chinese New Year, which typically takes place late January and is a fantastic celebration to be involved in, and to witness first hand. Spending Christmas away from home, with new friends in a very different culture can be a magical and memorable experience!
Have you taught in China yourself?
Many of our staff have teaching and management experience in China, and therefore are knowledgeable about the education system and culture – we’re here to pass that expertise on to you, and always happy to help. We also run a free bi-annual live webinar series, delivered by an experienced teacher, which gets good feedback from participants.
Opportunity China appreciate that the prospect of living and teaching in China can produce many, many unknowns and questions. We here to support you throughout your journey, so please get in touch with us at email@example.com.
You can also read our Frequently Asked Questions and Teacher Profiles, for further helpful information.