Teaching in China – How to Get Started.

If you considering teaching in China, this post is for you, my experience and the practical how to get started.

China can be one daunting Country just because it’s so big and practically a world on its own.

For English teaching it is prevalent and economy wise it’s an industry that is growing fast and one of the best places to make lots of money.

My experience in China

China was hard for me based on the fact that China is the most foreign place I have ever been and nothing can prepare you for something you know nothing about. It was also the first time I taught English and first time to teach young children.

Being a communist country, and internet sensitive I knew it would be a challenge. Let me not get started on all the different dialects of Chinese/ Mandarin.

So job wise it was a huge learning curve, and culturally it was a massive shock in the beginning. I think the first three months were the most draining, frustrating and one of the hardest things I  had to overcome.

Overview my take from China was hard but the best thing I could do for me in all aspects of my life and it’s led me to South Korea where I am currently.

Let’s get started below I explained what you would need to be eligible to teach in China along with different kinds of jobs available, all the documentation and accommodation.
First  a TEFL( teaching English to foreign learners) Certificate is needed.

I did my 120 hour certification with a company called I -to- I TEFL
I completed the 120-hour course 100 hours online test style and 20 hours of class training over a weekend. You can check them out at the website I placed above.

The cost was R3000/$300 if memory serves correctly.  Also, check out Groupon or other deal sites they always have great deals on TEFL courses.

I received my certificate in the post about a week after completing the 120-hour course.

The actual course itself isn’t too tricky and the classroom practice is excellent for getting prepared if you have no teaching experience.
I completed my TEFL about three months before actually leaving. There is a time limit on the course so be sure to check how long you have to finish it.

Where I lived.
I lived in a city called Hangzhou about an hour from Shanghai on the fast train. There is no such thing as a small city, this city was big but divided into different areas I stayed in the west of Hangzhou close to my school.

I liked the city it was good and easy to navigate around once I figured it all out.

How the school terms work.
They use the same system as the Americans so the new school term starts in September after the summer break in July and August.

Training Centers (Private after-school programs)

I worked at English First( a franchise company and you can find them all over the world.)  these operate all year round and do not work on the school term system. When it comes to leave days if memory served correct we were given 14 days and we could apply for leave when we wanted as long as it wasn’t during peak time Summer or Winter camps. We were given Chinese national holidays off too.

These are private businesses giving extra English classes after school. Not all Asian kids are born smart they trained and will often have 12 hour school days filled with extra lessons in everything.

My working hours were Monday, Tuesday 12 pm – 8 pm teaching only from 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. The afternoon was allocated time to prepare lessons for the week.

Wednesday and Thursday were my days off.

Then Friday,12pm – 9pm classes starting at 4pm – 9pm. The afternoon before classes was usually for meetings and training.

Saturday and Sunday were our busy days starting at 9 am – 6 pm. That would be the schedule for the week.

These kind of private learning schools are popular all through Asia.

Other teaching options are listed below.


Kindergarten schools generally from ages 3 to 6 here you will be teaching very basic English along with general life skills and sports. Parents like having a foreign teacher, so their kids get used to seeing an unfamiliar face and general exposure to English.

Public Schools

Public schools will work according to the school you are at, and the levels you will teach some places will have materials for you some places not, and you will have to come up with things on your own, but the internet has loads of resources covering everything regarding ESL teaching.
The best thing about public schools are the vacation days. If your school does not host winter or summer camps, you get the same holidays.

Summer/Winter Camps
During the summer and winter, an estimated duration 4 to 6 weeks depending on the program.Some programs could run longer.

Adult Teaching
You can also teach adults usually adults wanting to improve business English or homemakers with lots of time on their hands.

When I secured my job I had a friend give me a contact; I emailed had the interview and got the job sometimes it is that easy.

There are also many job boards that advertise a popular one to have a look at is Dave’s ESL Cafe there are hundreds of listings every day.


First I would recommend doing your TEFL as discussed in detail above.

Police clearance this takes a long time depending on your country of origin. You can do this at a police station.

For South Africans once you have the form you need to mail it to Pretoria there are a few companies that do this if you are not in Pretoria.

You will need a copy of any tertiary education Diplomas and Degrees.

When I did all of this for China in 2014 my documents did not need to be apostilled, but I heard because of a lot of fake documentation the Chinese government and immigration have become more strict, and this may be a requirement now.

If you need things apostilled in Cape Town  I visited Tinus van der Berg  his a lawyer in Town  had my documents back in 7 days it is a little pricey think I paid R1500

Accompanying these documents, you will need an updated CV, certified copies of your passport and once you have secured a job the necessary visa forms but your recruiter or school HR will guide you through every step it is a long process.

You will have to send your documentation to China they will issue you a visa number allowing you to apply for the Chinese visa in your country.


Most schools will provide accommodation for you I lived in a beautiful three bedroom apartment fully furnished close to my school. I did, however, have to share with two other coworkers, You won’t have to pay rent, but you will pay for water and electricity.

The school should also provide health insurance.

You should discuss all of these things during your interview with your school, so you know what they will provide.
Each school or training center may provide different things.

I get asked many questions about this, and I hope I covered most of the critical points.
Please let me know if you have any other specific questions and I will be happy to reply, leave a comment below or on my socials and I can help where I can.

Keep an eye out for my How to get started in Korea post coming soon and my pros and cons on living in China and Korea.

Peace love and happiness




1 thought on “Teaching in China – How to Get Started.”

  1. Pingback: Teaching in South Korea- How to Get Started. | Her Sun-Kissed Soul

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