We want to be up front and let you know that English First is the only school we’ve found in China that will hire Asian-looking teachers even if they were born in the US and have a perfect American accent and English teaching experience.

This discrimination does not apply to international schools for expat student that have Western management but those schools require home-country teaching certification and home-country teaching experience such as teaching AP Calculus in a high school in the US or U.K.

English schools tell me the issue Is that Chinese parents want “western looking” English teachers. Most parents don’t speak English themselves so they can’t judge how good a teacher’s English skills or accent are. They also often think that English speaking countries are as racially homogeneous with Caucasians as China is with Chinese.

Most English schools pay their local Chinese teachers (if any), only 1/3 to 1/4 what Western looking teachers make and the Chinese teachers are expected to work longer hours.

Also, about 80% of English schools in China refuse to hire black or Indian English teachers even if they have standard American or British or Australian accents, college degrees, and experience. Consequently, we’ve been able to find jobs for some black teachers but not many.

This especially frustrates me because I’m the adoptive mother of 3 grown children who were adopted from Ethiopia. One of my black sons taught English in Japan for 3 years.

If your goal is to explore China, I suggest going there on a student visa, and if you still want to teach, then interview in person for teaching jobs though they may only offer 3000 RMB per month. Most schools’ tuition for non-credit courses such as Chinese language or culture classes starts at 14,000 RMB per year and they expect payment up front so you need to save up and pay for tuition before you travel.

For more info read:

Encountering discrimination as an Asian American in China

3 lessons I learned as an Asian American in China

Also, here’s a video that discusses the issue: