Teaching in China: Private vs Pubic Schools

Teaching in China: Private vs Pubic Schools
hadleyj09 Dec 04, 2014 18:42

So, you want to teach in China? You got your passport, your visa, and your TEFL / TESOL / CELTA certificate? Sounds good to me. Now, it’s time to start thinking about what kind of school you want to teach in, Private or Public?


Well, to start, I have taught in both and what you should know is that these two school systems are nothing alike. They are ran two completely different ways and complete opposites of each other. That doesn’t mean that one is better than the other, because that is for you to decide, but it is a choice that you will have to live with for at least 6 months to a year, or more. You don’t want to break your contract. Doing that can result in some serious fines and other schools may not want to hire you after that.


Quick note: I’m not going to list every single detail about each school type, but you will get the gist of each one.


So let’s get into it. Starting with Private schools, or in China, most of them are known as private training centers. These centers are ran by companies that hire foreigners from the mainstream English speaking countries of USA, UK, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa. Others schools are more and less lenient on requirements of country status. Anyways, these centers will usually have you working 20-40 hours a week. Usually 20 teaching hours and the rest can be mandatory office hours which is time to do administrative work such as grading quizzes and tests, marking attendance, and other admin stuff. Other centers may not require office hours. Do your research on your working choices. Your classes are pretty small being 1-16 students. When it comes to off time, usually you only teach on evenings and weekends. Weekends are the busiest days and can get up to 10-12 hours, but sometimes, classes get cancelled so that can be chill out time for you, but it’s not often. Vacation time is about roughly 6-8 weeks-ish a year and it’s paid, usually. When it comes to housing, the school will usually provide you with an apartment or a living stipend to help you rent your own place. Your apartment may or may not be shared with another teacher, do you research. Usually, smaller cities will provide you with an apartment while larger cities may or may not. They will always have someone to help you if you have any trouble with your apartment, whatever it may be. Same goes for banking, someone will help you with that too. Also, private centers are usually foreign managed, and very clean and modern, most of the time. You can be sure that you will at least be able to have a few foreign teachers to talk to about your teaching or life successes or problems. Also, in some cases, your salary at a private school may be higher compared to public schools, sometimes.


Let’s get to Public schools. Like I said before, they are completely opposite each other. With public school, you are left to be more independent and that is a good thing but can be a bit more challenging, especially if you are coming to China for the first time. With a public school, you will usually teach no more than 20 hours a week and office hours may or may not be required. Your class sizes can be from 30-70 students, or more in some cases. The school may or may not provide you with an apartment, based on the city, but will usually give you a housing stipend if you need to rent your own place. These schools are usually always Chinese ran and can be a challenge because there may be cases where your school may or may not be clear on what you are asking at times, or may be slower to get you what you need, compared to a private school. Usually, this isn’t that big of a deal. I say, make a lot of Chinese friends and learn the language so you can do what you need to do by yourself. At least then you can get what you need, when you need it. When it comes to vacation time, you usually get at least 1 month off for Spring festival (Jan or Feb, depending on the year) and 2 months summer vacation, plus all the other national holidays, so altogether, about…..12-14 weeks of vacation time per year. Depending on the school, sometimes they will give you full pay for vacation, sometimes, half pay and sometimes no pay at all. It’s up to you to do your research!!!

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Hey! I am currently looking for teaching opportunities in China, preferably a larger city like Beijing. Did you find your job through this website's classifieds? Also, did you have issues getting employment being, like me, and AAM male?

Apr 27, 2015 09:43 Report Abuse



not entirely true what you are saying. 1. most training center are for sure not foreign run and often a nightmare 2. training centers also nowadays work for public schools - so you do both, private classes and public school classes. I had to go from school to school and at the weekend teach in the training center 3. the management of both are usuably terrible (welcome to china) 4. no matter where you work - be careful, they always try to cheat some money out of your salary

Jan 02, 2015 16:58 Report Abuse



Thanks for the info. I've heard horror stories, but thankfully, I've never lived through one.

Jan 15, 2015 19:18 Report Abuse