China is one of the world fastest developing economies and they are coming onto the world stage in a big way. To facilitate their new role as a global powerhouse, more and more Chinese are learning English. It’s a booming market.

Some students learn English to study abroad for their post-secondary education. Other students are learning to interact with foreign customers and clients. And there are some students who are learning English as simply a status symbol. The point is that there are plenty of teaching opportunities. But how does an English teacher find a job in China? Here are a few easy steps.

Step 1 – Your Resume/CV

The first step to getting a job is having the right resume or CV prepared. Like in any job, specific training or experience will help land an interview. Some ESL-specific training or experience might be any of these:

Some of these qualifications are nice to have, but not entirely necessary. All of the certifications will increase a teacher’s employability, but aren’t strictly necessary. All that would be strictly necessary is an undergraduate degree from a recognized college or university along with citizenship from a native-speaking country. These countries are the USA, the UK, Australia, Canada, South Africa, New Zealand and Ireland.

As for experience, actual ESL experience is best, especially with some certification. For recent graduates fresh out of school, however, it’s easy to get relevant experience at home. Most libraries and universities have volunteer ESL programs that are chronically understaffed. By volunteering just a few hours a week, a prospective teacher can get some valuable experience.

There are some special tricks for the resume itself, too. First of all, it’s likely that the people doing the hiring aren’t native speakers themselves. It’s very important to use the clearest, simplest, shortest possible descriptions of qualifications. It’s also important to include a photo. Many schools employ a foreign teacher as the “face” of the school, a native speaker to lend credibility to the institute. Unfortunately, this also results in discrimination against very talented non-White teachers. While certainly not right, it’s also much better to get rejected right away than to arrive and be immediately let go.

Step 2 – Do Your Research

It’s essential to do one’s research from home, long before the teacher ever sets foot on a plane. This is an important step because it gives the teacher an idea of what the market is like, what kind of salary and benefits to expect, as well as what region of China she or he would like to live in. China is a huge country containing many cultures and sub-cultures. The difference between Harbin and Hainan is as extreme as the difference between northern England and southern France.

It’s important to learn the answers to these questions:

Step 3 – Find a Job

There are many resources online to help prospective teachers find a teaching job in China. The best place to start is an ESL job directory. There are many out there, some country-specific and some broader job markets for all of Asia. Once you know the part of China you want to live in, it should be fairly easy to refine your job search.

There are also recruiters available to help teachers find a job suited to them. Be cautious with recruiters. Never pay a fee up front. A reputable recruiter will collect their fee only after they find a job for the teacher, usually half a month’s salary, and collect a similar fee from the school. This gives recruiters an extra incentive to get the best-paying job possible.

For the risk taker, there’s also the option of just going to China and finding a job. Though there isn’t a guarantee that a job will be had, it does make interview much easier and more likely to result in being hired. Being on the ground in China shows a commitment to teaching and allows a face-to-face interview. In some ways, it’s also safer for the teacher because it’s less likely to be scammed by a fake job.

Step 4 – The Interview

Interviews at language schools are often fairly informal. They’re mostly to confirm that the teacher is of the ethnicity and English ability he or she claims to be. The real test of the teacher’s quality will come in the form of a teaching demo. This is another reason why it’s helpful to be in the country first, but again jobs can be found online with a video call as an interview.

Always prepare a demo, even for a video chat. If it’s not mentioned when arranging the interview, then ask specifically whether you need a demo or not. If you don’t have any teaching experience, you can search online for related lesson plans. There are lots of ideas out there for free. If done in person, the demo may be in front of actual students or a group of teachers pretending to be students. Either way, it’s a show and should be treated as such.


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