How To Teach English In China

teach english in China

teach english in China

Have you ever thought about packing up your belongings and jetting off to a far flung country to teach English?  The answer is probably no, but you could be missing out on a life changing experience and a chance to redefine yourself.

If you are willing to embrace a new culture, language and a foreign way of life, why not consider teaching English in China, it can be a very fulfilling and rewarding experience and you’ll get paid for your efforts; what better way to get out and travel without having to find the funds?

Each and every year, thousands of people decide to travel to China to teach English as a second language, but for those who have never considered doing so before it can be difficult to know where to start.  Take a look at my tips below to find out how you can get started:

How to choose your destination

China is a truly vast country and it spans over 3.7 million square miles with a population of around 1.4 billion.  Because of this, you won’t be short of choices when it comes to picking your preferred destination so it really comes down to personal preference.

Would you prefer the busy and bustling cities of Beijing & Shanghai, or would you prefer a more rural destination where you can experience the real China?  Be warned though; if you opt for a rural destination you’ll find you need to pick up the language in order to get by on a daily basis.

It’s important to do your research before you start to apply for teaching jobs as this will make the whole process much easier and a lot quicker, plus you’ll have the added benefit of knowing what to expect when you arrive at your destination.

Learn the language

As mentioned above, it’s important to learn some of the lingo before you travel to help facilitate your teaching and to allow you to communicate when you are out and about.  You don’t need to be fluent in Chinese to teach English, but it certainly helps, so try to learn some key phrases in Mandarin before you jet off.

An easy way to pick up Mandarin – a difficult language to pronunciate for English speakers – is to use Pinyin which uses the English alphabet to explain the pronunciation of words in Mandarin, making it easier to pick up the language.  Greeting your students in Mandarin when you meet them for the first time can really help to break the ice so it really is worth learning some simple greetings and salutations.


It’s important to get your accommodation sorted before you travel and before you sign a contract to teach at a particular school.  If you don’t do this you could end up having to stay in rundown accommodation which could ruin your teaching experience in China.

Make use of the internet to talk to other individuals who have taught in China and seek their advice and the benefit of their experience to help you make the right decision (a forum is usually the best tool to facilitate this).  You’ll find that some employers will include accommodation as part of your package so in this case you need not worry.

Finances & insurance

You won’t usually receive a large pay packet for teaching English in China, but the good news is that the cost of living there is much lower than Western countries so your money will stretch that little bit further when it comes to paying for accommodation and eating out.

It’s a good idea to save some money before you travel so you can get by until your first paycheck clears, it will also give you more flexibility as to where you can stay and get your food before you discover where the best bargains are to be had.

It might not be a holiday but it is still important to purchase an adequate travel insurance policy before you travel to ensure you have cover in the right places.  A single trip policy is unlikely to cover you for the length of time you need so it may be wise to opt for a backpacker policy as this is designed to offer continuous cover for longer periods of time.  To take the legwork out of finding a suitable policy, why not make use of a comparison website such as, who knows, you might even save yourself some money in the process.

If I’ve tempted you to give it a go then don’t forget to look into taking a TEFL course (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) to improve your chances of getting a placement and, above all, make sure you enjoy yourself on what could be a once in a lifetime experience!

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