10 Important Tips To Become ESL Teacher in China

10 Important Tips To Become ESL Teacher in China
ESL teacher

In a world of rapid changes and cutthroat competition, everyone is looking for new and different ways to make a decent living, fulfilling their dreams, going to their desired destinations and eating the exotic food they have always seen and drooled over. If you are planning on becoming an ESL teacher in China  then you might just have it all.

For those who don't know, ESL is no Quantum Physics. It stands for teaching English as a secondary language. Being an ESL teacher in China, will be an experience to brag about as one will be able to witness the beauty and the grace that the country has. China is one of the most developed countries with highly advanced technology and well-planned infrastructure.

While teaching a new language to the speakers of another language, one will have to face language barriers, new cultures, educational practices, learning style but where there is a will there's a way! Even after all these difficulties the right planning will make your teaching experience in China a memorable one. Here are 10 tips one needs to know to become an ESL teacher. 


TEFL means Teaching English as a foreign language. In order to work as a full-time teacher in China with a higher pay, along with a work visa and a residential permit, one needs to have a TEFL certification. Many teachers who don't have the certification switch teaching as a side job and are paid much lower salaries with no benefits. TEFL certification can be completed in offline as well as online mode. And, the good news is that the course is flexible which means you don't have to miss out on your job or deadlines. 

There are a few standards which needs to be fulfilled that are: 

  • There should be at least 100 hours of coursework 
  • 6-20 hours of teaching practice with actual non-native English speakers
  • The certification should be provided by recognized and qualified instructors
  • One should always take their TEFL certification an organization that provides comprehensive job guidance as well 


Everything is not for everyone and,in order to become an ESL teacher, one needs to fulfill some basic requirements:

  • One should belong to a native English speaking country such as Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, UK, USA, Canada and South Africa 
  • One should have a bachelor's degree and the degree can be in arts, commerce or science 
  • One needs to have a clear medical and criminal records 
  • One should have a TEFL certification as it acts as a decisive factor in salary along with other benefits
  • One needs to have 2 years of teaching experience, One might get a job without any experience but if you are looking for a full-time teaching position then you need to have 2 years of experience


Before starting a job, we all love to fantasize about the job, the perks such as housing, flight reimbursement, flexibility of job and a handsome salary in our hands. But does this always happen?

In the present scenario, the salary of an ESL teacher in China can range from 6500 RBM to 16000 RBM, which is roughly equal to $920 to $2300. The salary depends on three major factors:

  • Experience and Qualifications
  • The city we choose to work in
  • The type of institute one teaches in 


 It is important to decide where you want to work because salary can vary as per the institution where one decides to teach in

Public schools: They typically operate from Monday to Friday with 40-50 minutes of scheduled class with a batch of 30-50 students. The salary of a public school teacher is 6200-15300 RMB ($900-$2,200) per month which seems less than private school teachers, but there are few benefits as well such as:

  • Fewer working hours
  • Longer and often paid vacations
  • More freedom in structure and style of teaching

Private schools: Getting recruited in a private school is not everyone’s cup of tea as they demand high qualification and experience. But once you are in, you will love your life there as they are the best type of institutions to be in as they pay higher salaries in the range of 6,200 RMB-16,000 RMB ($900-$2,300) per month.

Universities: Universities are also a good option for foreign English teachers. They have lighter workload and less teaching hours with lots of benefits such as paid airfare, housing and paid vacations with a salary range between 7000 RMB- 97,000 RMB ($1000-$1400) per month. They are also considered more prestigious. 

International Schools: There is a tough competition when it comes to landing in an international school. They offer the highest salary range between 11,800 RMB - 29,900 RMB ($1700-$4300) per month. The role of a teacher in an international school is easier as it is quite similar to the curriculum and teaching styles of an average school. It requires more certification and qualifications.

 Sometimes teachers work as private tutors to supplement their salaries. With an average salary of RMB 140 ($20) per hour.


Where there is good, there is always a place for bad. Hence, always make sure that the recruiter you are investing time and energy in is a reliable authority. While traveling, there is always a chance of getting tricked due to the different local languages. Unless one can speak Chinese, it becomes very difficult to do the research on our own and know what kind of school you’re applying to until after you arrive — which may be too late. However, sometimes we must take some risks in order to grab the opportunities.


All these perks and privileges usually cover up all the darker spots but that does not mean they are not there at all. The vast cultural difference inside as well as outside the classroom, discrimination, completely different lifestyle and languages often lead to cultural shock. It can be cured through various methods such as yoga, meditation etc. One should remember that if you believe in yourself, you can do it and prepare yourself mentally for all the challenges and difficulties. 


No matter how much love and dedication you have for your job, make sure you don't miss out on everything that China has to offer outside your classroom. Make full use of those free evenings, weekends and holidays. Eat the vast variety of food and enjoy the festivals.

Get on that train and don't panic if you don't know mandarin or Chinese as smartphone apps and the pictures on the trains will make your life easier. 


Living in a country and not knowing the local language might put you in a lot of pressure, but no need to panic because even if you don't speak Chinese you can still survive as there are many translating applications that will make your life easier. However, there are plenty of Chinese language schools in every major city. The language is very difficult to learn, but living in China without the knowledge of the language can be irritating. 


Expectation is a common human trait, but you should not rely on everything you read on Wikipedia or the internet. It is a commonly believed fact that the Chinese students are very well behaved, and the student-teacher relationship is exceptionally respectful, but it is not always rainbows and flowers. So, in spite of your expectation of meeting a mannered and disciplined child, some of them might appear to be notorious or not interested in the subject.


Your luggage should not simply depend on what you don't wish to leave behind, and instead you should focus more on the things that you will require and might not be available in the city you are traveling to.

As an English teacher don't forget to bring your own teaching materials as well as some foreign currency, menu cards or even newspapers. Make sure to keep the medicines, a phone, bank cards and a laptop, a few clothes and other few things. You don't need to pack the shampoos, gels and cream as they are available in plenty.