Tips for Finding a Teaching Job while Already IN China

Tips for Finding a Teaching Job while Already IN China
Dec 31, 2020 By Alex Dwyer ,

With flights, accommodation and other expenses often covered, job offers from China can be enticing, especially for those flogging the role of desk zombie in a poor economy elsewhere. But job hunting from overseas is not always so easy. Many China employment opportunities sound fishy, either as a result of bad translation or purposeful deception, and scams are not unheard of. If you have the option, therefore, it’s actually a lot easier to hunt for the perfect teaching job once you’re already on Chinese soil. Having navigated these waters myself, here I bring you some tips on finding a teaching job while already in China.

finding a teaching job while already in China

How to go about it

As a native English speaker with a TEFL certificate and experience teaching ESL to business professionals in Rio De Janeiro, I knew I would find a plethora of teaching opportunities in China. When I came here more than a decade ago, therefore, I decided to wait until my boots were on the ground before looking for work, preferring to scope out the situation myself rather than putting my faith in an online job posting.

After two months of living in Chongqing, Sichuan province, I decided it was the city for me and went about looking for a job. I took a look online — including on websites such as Abroad China, Dave’s ESL Cafe, Horizon Recruitment, Gold Star, Craigslist China, and of course, the eChinacities job section — but crucially, I also took the initiative of walking into a few random English schools in my neighbourhood to see if they needed teachers. Spoiler alert, pretty much all of them did.

I contacted about a dozen schools and recruiters over the course of two days and interviewed in-person with seven of them in under a week. Amazingly, I got offers at all of them, which I’m not sure would have been the case if the interviews had taken place online. It’s very hard for potential employers to get a read on you over a dodgy internet connection (and when video calling between China and another country, you’d better believe the connection will be dodgy).

I was admittedly exhausted after running around Chongqing in the sweltering heat, but seeing the schools for myself was my priority as I wanted to weigh all my options before making a decision. It was worth it, as eight days after the start of my search, I had seven different teaching employment options sitting in front of me, all of which I was fully informed about.

Although most schools seem pretty seem similar online, each has positives, negatives and a unique vibe that can only really be picked up on in person. Even if you love what you see, however, be sure to cover all your bases in the interview and don’t allow yourself to be fobbed off with wishy-washy answers. This is, of course, much easier to do in person than online.

So before selecting your school, make sure you’re clear about:

Students & lessons

Who are you going to teach? Which age groups and experience levels? What are you going to teach them? Do you have to create the lesson plans yourself or does the school have a set curriculum for you to follow? These are pivotal questions, whether you’re an experienced teacher or someone looking to take their first teaching job in China.

Location & staff

Do you like the area where the school is located? Are there decent lunch options nearby and/or does the school have a good canteen? How long will your commute take? What’s the vibe at the school? If you’re not interested in something super corporate and rigid, avoid English First, Web International and Meten, although be aware that these big institutions are generally better run and pay well and on time. Do the other teachers and staff seem like people you’d get along with? Will you be provided with a local teaching assistant?

Another massive advantage of visiting a school in person is that you can ask to look in on one of the lessons while you’re there. This will give you a great sense of the way things are done and what you’ll be facing if you do accept a position.

Fine print & perks

Be sure to scrutinise the typical contract when you interview, even if it isn’t the final one you’ll sign. Are work visas handled and paid for by the school? What’s the penalty for leaving the contract early? Are your hours and schedule flexible? How much annual leave will you get outside of the Chinese public holidays? Will you get a housing allowance or other benefits?

The most important thing to remember is that when it comes to finding a teaching job while already in China, most things are negotiable. Even if you’re not a natural-born haggler, don’t be shy about asking for a higher salary or for a perk you didn’t see in the contract, such as an annual flight home. More often than not, schools in China need you more than you need them. I found the schools I interviewed with seldom shut down the requests I made outright.

There are many great reasons to teach English in China, so whatever yours are, keep them firmly in the front of your mind when looking for teaching jobs from the ground. Your ultimate decision should depend on whether you’re here  to make and save money, build your résumé for a career in education, or make some casual money on the side while you travel and learn Chinese. Whatever your end goal, make sure both your hunt and the contract you end up signing reflect that.

Many people sign contracts for teaching positions in China before leaving their home country. If you find yourself here prior to putting pen to paper like I did, the balance is very much more in your favour. Take your time and find the right school and deal for you.

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Thanks for sharing useful information in this article.

Mar 17, 2021 12:14 Report Abuse



China is a great place with beautiful landscape, a place where foreigners can make and save money if you know how to spend wisely.

Mar 17, 2021 12:11 Report Abuse



Those who are currently in China have the advantage of hunting a teaching job easily until the border is reopen for foreigners again.

Mar 17, 2021 12:08 Report Abuse



Very interesting thanks

Jan 13, 2021 16:27 Report Abuse



Am so glad to share and believe in it

Jan 12, 2021 02:49 Report Abuse



useful thanks for sharing

Jan 03, 2021 22:50 Report Abuse



Very interesting! Thanks

Jan 02, 2021 06:44 Report Abuse