Teaching English Overseas

Six things to consider before teaching and living in China.

RealTeachers offers real jobs overseas - English tutoring in China.

So, you’ve decided to take the next step, to live and teach in China. Excellent choice! Believe me, you will never look back. The path you are about to follow is not only inspirational, but highly rewarding. English tutoring in China is a lot of fun, and a great way to kick off your new career.

But with the thousands of places to live, how will you decide on your future destination? Are you a nature-loving type, that likes tranquil spaces, and picturesque landscapes, or do you prefer the hustle and bustle of the chaotic cites? Perhaps a more slow paced coastal city or town? China is a massive country, and every where you look, you are presented with something new, and exciting. Working and living in China is simply amazing.

There are around 300 million Chinese students learning the English language, so it comes as no wonder that China is a dream pool for ESL teachers who wish to teach English overseas. Currently there are over 100,000 English teachers residing in China.

Mingling with the locals is one of the greatest factors of living in China. They are more than welcoming, and have so much to show you. Their culture, their food, and their native tongue are just the beginning. Their stunning sunsets highlighting the glorious beaches, to the more hazy views of their dimmer mountain tops, are just a couple of the sights that need to be witnessed.

However, there are a few things to consider before packing your belongings, to ensure your stay is as comfortable as possible, and you are fully prepared for English tutoring in China.

1. Do you have the correct certifications, and valid visa?

Be sure to have your bachelor degree, and your TESOL / TEFL certification on you, at all times. Be sure to hold the correct legal working Z type visa, attached to your up to date Passport. Double check that your Passport has at least 6 months of validity, before you travel internationally.

2. Where do you want to live and teach in China?

The hardest decision to make before living in China, is where to reside. Choosing your city or town of residency can be quite challenging, as there are thousands of amazing places to live and teach in China. The main cities include Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Harbin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, DongYing, amongst many others. All offer a unique lifestyle, thanks to the variety of scenery, tastes and climate.

There is something for everyone. From party animals to nature lovers, you are bound to find your perfect location.
The glorious and picturesque landscapes of country China provides a lower cost of living, but will pay less than big cities like Beijing and Shanghai. Expect expenses to be much lower than these bigger cities, and be ready to experience yet again a whole different experience. The lifestyle is much more laid back, it’s a lot quieter, and the roads are a lot easier to navigate, due to noticeably less traffic.
So do your homework, research some different cities, and find a suitable place that caters to your needs and wants.

3. What type of school do you prefer / What age and level do you wish to teach?

The career path of English tutoring in China presents a variety of options when it comes to choosing a suitable class type. You can experience all types of lessons, class sizes, ages and language levels, not to mention the array of working hours depending on the type of school you wish to teach in.

Your personality, amount of knowledge and experience, qualifications, flexibility and interests will aid you in deciding your preferred lesson type, and in which school or university.

Types of schools in China include; public or private, language centres, international schools, and range from kindergarten to university. There is literally something for everyone. You can expect class sizes to be of 20-40 pupils.

Language centres are a great option if you prefer to teach in the evenings, outside regular school hours, or weekends. Your students will consist of young children wanting to learn extra curriculum, or parents wishing to improve their English skills. This is a great way for students to get a head start. Class sizes are generally a lot smaller, usually between 5-10 students.

4. What to expect from the school.

Some schools will provide you with a sit in teacher. This helps organise the students, and eliminates any language barrier. Ensure you are fully prepared for you lesson, and always have a backup plan. China’s internet is very controlled, disabling handy websites such as Google, Youtube, and other social media platforms, so it’s best not to rely on them, or plan a lesson where you might need these sites for referencing.

Foreigners living in China, can expect to reside close to the school in a small, fully furbished apartment, provided by the school.

The maximum working hours is 40 per week. However, most kindergartens only require about 25. China has many annual holidays, and can last for up to a week or two. Don’t worry, as a teacher, you should still be paid for these days off.

5. What does the school expect from you?


If you wish to teach in a full time position, you are required to have the following qualifications:

 - A  Bachelor Degree or higher.
 - A TESOL / TEFL (or equivalent) certification.
 - At least 2 years of teaching experience.
 - 24-55 years of age.
 - A native english speaker. A native speaker originates from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, U.K, or U.S.A.

6. Salary


The average salary for a native english speaker in China ranges between 12000RMB - 15000RMB per month. Obviously these figures can change, as there are many factors that can affect your wage. The type of school, location, and your qualifications all come into play here.

Teaching and living in China can be a big move for most people. The culture shock, the diet and the people could be something new to you. Things will go a lot smoother, and you will fit in to your new surroundings a lot quicker, if you prepare everything before you close the front door and set off to your new destination.