Frequently Asked Questions
I can’t speak Chinese. Is that a problem?
You can teach English in China without knowing how to speak Chinese. Students expect to get immersed in English during class and so speaking Chinese is actually discouraged in class. You will not need to speak Chinese or translate the language to the students if you present it in such a way that they can understand. For this, proper planning and use of realia can be crucial. Often there is the option of having a Chinese teaching assistant to help with giving instructions and translating if need be, especially for young learner classes.
Where in China do you place teachers and in what schools?
We recruit for primary, middle and high schools, preschools, English training companies and universities all over China. If you have a preference for where you want to live or what type of climate you prefer, just tell us. However, for teachers without degrees, we can only place you in Beijing because our partner there has a close relationship with the Public Security Bureau and can get teachers Z visas once they arrive in China.
Why should I work with you instead of one of the thousand other recruiters or find a job on my own?
We take excellent care of our teachers. Though we are paid by the schools we send teachers to, our number one priority is our teachers. We know what different schools are looking for and can quickly match you up with a school that will appreciate what you have to offer. Schools have an incentive to treat you fairly because otherwise, we won’t refer them other teachers in the future. Also, we are a small American-owned company that provides individualized, ongoing support for you the entire time you’re in China. We have lived and taught in China ourselves and we have many contacts throughout China who can help you if needed. Our Director, Annette Thompson, flies to China 3-4 times per year and visits many of our teachers.
What’s the next step after my Skype interview?
- During most Skype interviews, we are able to tell you during the interview if we’d like to work with you to get you a job in China.
- You tell us during the interview or later if you want us to move ahead and start submitting your information to schools in China.
- If you agree, we will submit your resume, photo, and video clips from our interview to one or more schools or recruiting partners.
- Schools will also need a copy of the photo page of your passport and photos of any college diplomas you have so please get those to us asap and collect the originals to bring with you to China. If you don’t have a passport yet, apply for an EXPEDITED passport immediately. Expediting your passport application costs an extra $30 and may require a letter from us so tell us if you need a letter.
- We will email you about China’s most popular instant messaging app, Wechat, to install on your phone. Add our Director, Annette Thompson. She’ll add you to our Wechat teacher group so you can meet other American teachers headed to China. Make sure to use a professional-looking photo for your Wechat profile photo at least until you have accepted a job because we may also introduce you to schools and our recruiting partners via Wechat.
- We’ll email you instructions on how to start our eTeachAbroad.com 120-hour online TESOL/TEFL training and certification program that we provide for free to all the teachers we place. If you take the course but decide to accept a job that we didn’t find for you, you can still get your TESOL/TEFL certificate but it will cost the regular price of $249.
- Some of the schools we work with will make a hiring decision based on our interview of you, but some schools or recruiting partners will want to interview you themselves via Skype so we’ll help arrange those interviews.
- Receive job offer(s) and accept job: We can get most teachers a school interview or job offer within 3 days but it may take a little longer if you don’t have teaching experience. After you have a job offer, we’ll answer any questions you have about the contract offer that the school gives you and we can sometimes help you negotiate a better deal.
- Most schools will then ask you to get reference letters showing 2 years of employment. Most schools will also ask for a background check or police clearance letter. We’ll send you details about how to do this.
- If you have a bachelor’s degree, you’ll need to get a physical exam and have your doctor fill out the specific medical form that China requires. China’s main concern is that you are free of communicable diseases such as TB, HIV, and syphilis and are free of serious heart problems that would show up on an EKG/ECG. Unfortunately, this exam can be expensive in the US so try to get your insurance to pay for it or find a nice doctor who will complete the form without doing expensive tests. In most cases you will need to have all these tests done again in China anyways and it’s much cheaper there.
- Two to four weeks after you submit your passport photo page, we or your school will then send you the documents necessary for you to get a visa at your closest Chinese consulate or embassy. The visa application form will need to be filled in on your computer and then printed because hand-written forms are not accepted. Also, the application must be made in person by you or a visa company, not by mail. Budget $140 for the embassy/consulate plus about $70 if you have to use a visa company. About 3-4 days later, you’ll have your visa.
- After you have your visa (NOT before) you can buy a one-way plane ticket to China. Ask us if you need help finding a cheap flight or the name of the airport nearest your school. Almost all schools will arrange for someone to pick you up at the airport in China. During the next few days a school employee will help you get settled in your new country.
What’s life like in China for African and African-American teachers?
We suggest you read some of these articles by other African Americans who have taught English in China such as:
We placed a wonderful American teacher originally from Cameroon near Chengdu, China 2 years ago. Daniella made a series of Youtube videos about her experience. Here’s one: https://youtu.be/DTxAKVsbj2o .
Our Director’s adopted Ethiopian-American son, Allen Thompson, and his wife Laura taught English in Japan. Allen would be happy to talk with you about how he dealt with the racism he encountered and still had a positive experience. Allen’s phone number is (580) 480-2562.
Will I have enough money to support myself?
Schools offer a competitive salary that provides a good standard of living in China. Teachers generally find that their salary gives them a purchasing power in China that is much stronger than in their home country. It’s possible to live comfortably and save up to half your salary.
Who pays for my flight?
You pay up-front for your flight but we offer a flight allowance of 5000 RMB (about , reimbursing your flight costs after completion of your 12 month contract. If you quit and break your contract, you will not get this money.
How do I open a bank account in China?
Our staff will take you to open your bank account within the first 3 days of your arrival in China.
What is my daily ATM limit for withdrawing money?
The daily ATM limit is 2,500 RMB. You can use most American debit cards in China.
How do I get cell phone service in China?
Our staff will take you to open your cell phone account within the first 3 days of your arrival in China. If you bring a cell phone, getting a Chinese SIM card doesn’t cost much.
How soon will I receive my first paycheck?
You will receive your first paycheck via direct deposit 4-7 weeks after you’ve started teaching. Some schools pay in the first week of the following month but some pay on the 25th day of the following month. Salary is paid on a monthly basis, paid in local currency, Chinese RMB.
How much do apartments cost in China? How do I find an apartment in China? What are they like?
Finding an apartment is usually pretty easy. The costs will vary depending on where you live. About half of our schools give a housing allowance and the other given their teachers a free nice western-style apartment that they already own or rent for their foreign teachers.
If you get a housing allowance, When you arrive in China, you might stay in a hotel for a week while looking for an apartment. If an apartment isn’t provided, your school will help you get an agent to help you pick the perfect place for you. Don’t make the mistake of rushing into a place, find one you like and make sure you will be comfortable for the duration of your stay. In big cities like Beijing, small one bedroom places can be 4000 RMB per month but outside of the major cities you should be able to find a nice apartment (around 80 square meters) for around 2000 RMB. Most apartments will be modern and fully furnished. Try to find one with a clothes washing machine (very common in China but there aren’t clothes dryers) and a comfortable bed (most beds are too hard). Most modern apartments have A/C and heating units in every room.
We recommend you bring a minimum of $1,000 US dollars to last you till your first paycheck. If you need to rent your own apartment, you may need more because in China most apartments expect payment in advance 3 months at a time and a one month deposit. Some schools offer and optional advance on your paycheck but they will keep your passport until you pay it back.
Are there tutoring jobs available for extra money?
Yes. Once you have started teaching at your school you will probably learn about multiple opportunities for tutoring and other ways to make some quick cash. If you’re a good tutor, you can make about 250 RMB per hour ($38/hr). If you live in a place with few foreigners, your face will stand out and ultimately land you some good opportunities. Most teaching contracts will will forbid you from tutoring your own students or students that go to your school. Tutors usually charge between 100-350 RMB/hour.
How long is my contract?
Your initial contract to teach English in China is 12 months. Sometimes we can get you a 6-month contract but those usually don’t provide airfare reimbursement. Some teachers choose to stay for one or more years, either in China or in another country. Sometimes teaching jobs for the summer are also offered which generally run from late June to late August.
What are my working hours?
Teachers teach 16-25 hours a week. Time is also spent lesson planning and doing other administrative duties. It depends on your qualifications and job how many office hours you’ll have. Teachers without degrees have 25 teaching hours and 15 non-teaching hours in preschools.
What other duties will I have besides teaching English?
You’ll probably have to do more than just teach English. Many private English training center jobs (not public school jobs) will require you to do some promotion work, English level checks, office hours and demos. Promotion work is basically just going to a public place like a mall or a library (accompanied by your T.A) and use your foreign face as an ad campaign for the school. You will be expected to talk to kids, smile and maybe do some English level checks for potential new students. Level checks are basically just a series of questions that you will ask students before they start with your school, these questions are written down in such a way so that you can discover what level a student should start at, depending on which questions they were able to answer. Demos are classes created for parents to see what the lessons are like in your school before they pay the enrollment fee. It will generally just be a regular class with parents watching and if you’re good, they will sign up and enlist their child with the school.
Is there a dress code?
There is a professional dress code that teachers are expected to comply with. Tattoos must not be visible wearing a short-sleeved shirt, and must be covered at all times. Facial piercings must be removed when at the school. This is the case for your Skype interview too.
What sort of medical tests do I need to complete to teach English in China?
Most teachers need to complete 2 sets of medical exams in order to obtain a working visa for China. The first must be done in your home country. The second series of exams will have to be completed once you are in China. You will need forms completed by your doctor at home. The tests include: ECG, chest X-rays, HIV and syphilis tests and a few others. After you arrive in China, you will need to complete a medical check to secure your work and resident permit. The cost of the physical in China is much cheaper.
Will I need to get any vaccinations before coming to China?
There are no mandatory vaccinations, as all schools are based in large cities. Discuss this with your local doctor.
How much paid time off do I get?
Foreign teachers accrue 10-20 paid vacation days. Most schools observe 11 Chinese national holidays. They are:
- New Year’s Day: 1 day
- Chinese New Year: 3 days
- Qing Ming Festival: 1 day
- Labor Day: 1 day
- Dragon Boat Festival: 1 day
- Mid-Autumn Festival: 1 day
- National Day: 3 days
- Please Note: Substitutions are not permitted in the event a holiday falls on a day you already have off.
Will I have weekends off?
Saturdays and Sundays are the busiest days at private English training schools (not public schools or preschools) so teachers at these schools are required to work both days. You will receive 2 consecutive days off during the week, to serve as your “weekend”.
When will I know in which city I will work, in which center I will be placed, and what my schedule will be?
We will discuss available openings and their corresponding location during your interview.
Can couples both work as English teachers?
Do you assist with the visa process for my spouse and/or dependent(s)?
We can add your legal spouse and/or children to your invitation letter, which will allow them to enter China on a spousal or dependent visa. However, keep in mind that tuition at private English schools in China is EXTREMELY expensive. Spousal Visa: In order to process the entry visa, you will need to send copies of their resume, passport photo page and marriage license along with your documents for processing. Dependent Visa: In order to process the entry visa for your child, you will need to send a copy of their passport photo page and birth certificate or adoption decree along with your documents for processing. Once in China, we will help secure their resident permit(s). Please be sure to bring eight 2×2 passport photos to China for the resident permit applications.
Do you pay for shipping from city of origin to China? Do you provide storage facilities?
We are unable to provide shipping assistance or storage facilities for belongings.
Can I bring my pet?
We do not provide any assistance or counsel on animal transportation. We recommend that you refer to the Chinese Embassy website to learn more about the requirements.