Jun 15, 2017 By Jessica A. Larson-Wang , eChinacities.com

It is well known that native English speakers have an advantage when it comes to finding work in China – if nothing else, there’s always English teaching. However, what if you don’t come from one of the major English speaking nations, what if English is your second or even third language? What opportunities can you expect to find in China?

Source: Данила

English teaching
While the teaching jobs available to non-native English speakers may not be the best the teaching world has to offer, there are still plenty of teaching opportunities available to people for whom English is not their native tongue. While you might not be chosen as an oral IELTS instructor, being a non-native speaker is rarely a detriment when it comes to teaching children, especially very young children. Many kindergartens employ non-native English speakers. While it is normal that as a non-native English teacher your salary might not be as high as your native speaking counterparts, beware, for many unscrupulous schools will take advantage of non-native speakers, particularly teachers from African nations and the Philippines, by offering insultingly low pay and near exploitative conditions. If you are employed as a foreign teacher, no matter the color of your passport (or your skin), you should be making a fair wage that is, if not equal, at least comparable to what your native speaking colleagues are making.

As a non-native English speaker your best asset may in fact be your ability on your own native language. While translators between Chinese and English are fairly easy to come by, it is not so easy to find translators that are competent in three languages. One Vietnamese woman in Kunming honed both her Chinese and English skills and set herself up as a successful freelance translator. A Danish man set up a translation company in Shanghai and employs a team of translators from around the world specializing in many different languages. Speaking a language that is not commonly studied in China but not necessarily obscure either, such as Arabic or Italian, along with having above average Chinese skills can be a big advantage in the translation industry.

Many people of all nationalities have profited from China’s increasing economic prowess and have set themselves up as consultants, serving as much-needed go-betweens for foreign companies looking to expand into China. Do you have what it takes to be a consultant? Having some connections in your home-country can be a start. One group of Italian friends set up a consultancy business after an initial success with family business connections in the marble industry. Their company went on to work with the Italian embassy and escorted Italian clients around Guangzhou during the annual Guangzhou trade fair. While setting oneself up as a consultant is easier said than done, those individuals with the right mix of skills, personality and connections could find consultancy to be a very lucrative endeavor.

While not as high-flying as translation or consultancy, there is a market in China for English speaking nannies. Since most native English speakers can make more money teaching English than they can looking after people’s children, this job usually falls to Filipina women. In Beijing the starting rate for Filipina nannies (ayis) is about 50RMB per hour at minimum, and often includes benefits such as room and board. While it doesn’t sound like much, this is about twice what local nannies make. While an English teaching position may require experience and educational qualifications, nanny positions only require experience, and for those non-native speakers whose English language or Chinese skills are not up to par, nannying for wealthy expats in Beijing or Shanghai could be a good second choice career.

Well, maybe superstardom is an exaggeration, but if you have a talent, consider exploiting it in China. Many foreigners, regardless of nationality, in Chinese cities from Kunming to Chengdu to Beijing to Guangzhou have set themselves up as DJs, honing their skills as they go along. Foreign-looking women can book gigs as dancers even without much dance experience and foreign men can pass themselves off as rappers as long as they look the part. Fire-dancers, drummers, singers, strippers, saxophonists, and even Beijing opera and xiang sheng performers have been able to make good livings for themselves by plying their talents to the Chinese public. If you actually are talented then all the better, but for many, the ability to fake it really well has proved good enough! There are some opportunities too that are available to anyone with the right look, no need for talent – films and TV shows often look for foreign extras, and advertising agencies are often seeking foreign models. If you have foreign or half-Chinese children who love preening for the camera, you could consider child modeling, as foreign child models are always in high demand.

China is one of those places where you can truly make your own destiny, and no matter whether you’re from the UK or Ghana, you should be able to find your niche in China. While finding a good job or a stable income may be more difficult for non-native speakers who do not necessarily have the cushion of English teaching available to fall back upon, there are plenty of other opportunities that can be even better.

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Keywords: Jobs for no native English speakers china can I get a job as a not native English speaker china jobs other than english teaching china china jobs not english can I get a job if I’m not an English speaker china

231 Comments Add your comment



China is not always the promise land people assume it to be. If you know where you are coming from you don't need to ask anybody where you are going to. The only job in China for an average foreigner is teaching which is very much unlike developed Countries. Moreover, teaching position is more of business than the true knowledge for students. The aspect of racism that happened some Centuries ago just started taking shape in China because of their late exposure to outside world. Their mentality about other races(from their history) is very terrible and barbaric. Let's re-trace our path of success and we shouldn't consider this fake and artificial life here. Second-hand life is even far better in the West. Regards to all!!!

Jul 26, 2010 20:10 Report Abuse



Completely agree. It is just business. Some native speakers do not even write nor speak English properly or have any teaching experience but they are well accepted by the schools in China just because they are English native speakers. Most of this schools in China pay more attention to the look of the teacher due to the fact that they sell the white face and do not care whether if they are certify teachers or not, just that they come from countries that speak English only... so unfair for those who have the experience teaching the language even though are not native speakers and have also a teaching degree that qualifies them as professionals in the area of education. Most Chinese language schools do not care about quality but quantity only and how much money they make with the white faces. They are so racist!!!

May 02, 2012 17:11 Report Abuse


Big L

Agree 100% with Carl!

Jul 21, 2010 21:10 Report Abuse



Dear Folks, Why are you washing your "DIRTY CLOTHES" in the public? Your writings / comments rather expose your weaknesses in the language you claim to be teachers of. The question is, how many of you are qualified to teach in your own home-countries? Your countries also discriminate if your answer is "no", hehehe...! Please, let's be careful of what we say or write: "A fool is considered wise as he / she learns to remain quiet". Food For Thought!

Jul 21, 2010 08:22 Report Abuse



I back you up carl what people are writing here is a complete balderdash.Although am an african myself and i must say the truth because most teachers here in china are employed without proper background check.. As for you alex why would you say ''Now the chinese are into Foreign prostitues''you are moron and a twat!life is a matter of choice you chose what you want.. As a matter of fact am dating a western girl and will never engage myself with people of your RACE;when it comes to relationship its all about car and buying a house to find a chinese wacko family that will accept you..Get a grip NO DICK...

Jul 21, 2010 04:34 Report Abuse



I would just like to say that all you on here advertising yourselves for a job need to do better. Is this how you write your CVs (resumes)? No capital letters at the start of sentences, commas and other punctuation marks in the wrong places or they are missing. Lots more too. Yet you claim to be able to teach English? Not on this evidence you can't.!

Jul 20, 2010 19:33 Report Abuse



non of your business
every one wanna find a job in China and not only you!!

Jun 14, 2011 00:24 Report Abuse



For someone who is very critical of others' grammar and/or usage of punctuations, you are not that great, too!

"No capital letters at the start of sentences, commas and other punctuation marks in the wrong places or they are missing."

(No capital letters at the start of sentences; commas and other punctuation marks in the wrong places, or they are missing.)

"Not on this evidence you can't.!"

(Not on this evidence, you can't!)

Sep 08, 2011 20:47 Report Abuse



Carl, I don't mean to pick u on but before you try to remove a peck from another's eye...do yourself more good in removing the log from your own.
Who made you an examiner here? Yet, you could not examine your own piece of writing before posting it. Better learn hard to be an "OK" student because you are far from "GOOD" and only close to "BAD"

Jan 12, 2012 23:58 Report Abuse



Hi, this is manju from India, I too have a good teaching in Hebei, teaching in big middle school and in kindergartens. The childrens,management adores me. Although I can't apply for big schools because of there strict and unique recruiting way. But I am well satisfies with my job. Lot of people advised me just go back home . It's very difficult to find a job. But I was lucky , within 15 days I was hired

Jul 20, 2010 19:19 Report Abuse



Hi manju, I want to hear more about teaching in china as i too am an ESL teacher planning to work in china.

Apr 24, 2011 23:02 Report Abuse



hahhaha manju,,, please show some mercy on the students, if you really wana do something good for them then stop teaching them. You really need to work on your grammer and spelling mistakes...lolz

Jul 06, 2011 03:56 Report Abuse



It's grammar, not grammer...:)

Aug 10, 2011 05:56 Report Abuse



I think you meant:
"Hahaha, Manju... Please show some mercy on the students. If you really want to do something good for them, then stop teaching them. You really need to work on your grammar and orthography."

Oct 11, 2011 12:20 Report Abuse



Whats "orthograph" ??

Oct 24, 2011 03:28 Report Abuse



'You really need to work on your grammer and spelling mistakes'........so do you, 'grammer' is spelt 'grammar' you fool.

Oct 29, 2011 08:57 Report Abuse



Does anyone know how I can get my MS Word to accept British English as well as American English? British English always trips me up. I'm not use to having two forms of practice (practise) and Math (maths). spilt, spelt, spoilt, learnt. All of these are getting caught by my MS Word auto correction. I don't want to turn it off completely, but I would prefer to accept British English in addition to American English. Most of the English in China is British English, so I have to work with it. Any thoughts from you Computer gurus out there?

Oct 29, 2011 17:16 Report Abuse



Another oops! Is it spelled judgement or judgment? Why do we keep going back and forth on this one? When I see a typo on this website, I hesitate to say anything because it might be just a different or older form of spelling the same word. Depending on what kind of literature you are reading. Another couple of funny ones, "whatsoever" "herewithin" "witherto" "notwithstanding" I read legal documents all the time with strange words. I have also come across some accounting terms that get caught in Word's spelling check. I can't remember the examples now, but there were a couple of times where I had to go online to make sure it was ok. I think my point is that when someone uses "grammer," I tend to ignore it because acceptable English is different depending on what region you are from and industry you are working in. What about "indisposable?" Is this a word? I think it depends on who you ask. It is the same in Chinese. It is the same in every language. Language is constantly evolving. However, I think "grammer" is widely unaccepted.

Oct 29, 2011 18:04 Report Abuse



i hav to ask you rather.....would it be easy for me to find english teaching job with out having a suitable certificate of that though i am brilliant in dat?

Dec 02, 2011 07:44 Report Abuse


Da Wei

"judgement' is the general word, but "judgment" is legal terminology to refer to a judgment of the Court.

Dec 05, 2011 18:18 Report Abuse



yes mate if you goto reveiw,spelling ect you have the option

Apr 25, 2012 16:16 Report Abuse


Gerard Antony John

Hi Manju,
I'm Gerard from Kerala; I would like to know more about teaching experiences in China. China is one of my favorite countries. From what you told us, I think you are enjoying it. I find it hard to get a job in China mainly if we are non-native. Can you suggest me some better way to find a job in China? I am having a Bachelor Degree and currently doing TEFL.
Please excuse my English
Thank you

May 30, 2012 09:24 Report Abuse



I know people who just tutor from apartment or teach in kindergarten ESL. if you teach in a government supervised school or college you must have a bachelors degree, TESL certification, two years of experience teaching, and two letters of reference. In 2010 China made it more difficult to get a Z work visa. If they do not approve of your college you attended or other certifications, they will not approve your work visa. It could take up to 3 months to get a work visa. I was refused a work visa and told I could never work in China because they did not approve of my college I attended. Maybe there is a wave of anti foreign sentiment. My degree was good enough in America.

May 31, 2012 15:37 Report Abuse



I am not surprised Manju that you are able to teach English in China. The policy is you have to be from new Zealand, Canada, U.S. Australia, or England and your native language must be English. In China there are mandated qualifications, but when you go from one province to another they do not always enforce the regulations so strictly. Even though a middle school hired me before I got a work visa approval, teachers and students thought of me as good and highly qualified, but Ministry of foreign affairs refused to give me a work visa because they said my college was not acceptable to them and neither was my TESL certification. because I am from America I believe that China is upset with Amercan's wanting to work in China because of the recent tariffs put on solar panels being exported from China because of unfair trade practice with Europe and America

May 31, 2012 15:59 Report Abuse



Hello Manju!My friend is looking for a job if your school needs teacher can u drop ma a line cause he is from India as well.Thanx!

Oct 02, 2012 17:44 Report Abuse