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FAQs

Moving to another country can be traumatic - there are so many new things to adapt to, from culture and language to rules and regulations. Working Vacation in China answers some of the most typical questions asked by English teachers who are moving to China.

Do I need a TEFL or TESOL certificate to find ESL jobs in China?

Not specifically required if you are a teacher from an English-speaking country, as long as you have more than two years’ experience in teaching ESL. If you are from a non-English-speaking country, you must have a TEFL/TESOL certificate to process your work visa.

Why is a university degree important for working in China?

University degrees are mandatory for applying for a work visa because they guarantee your qualification to teach in China.

How many students are in a classroom?

The number of students in a classroom will vary depending on the school. Public schools have as many as 50 students, which can be difficult to control; private schools limit class numbers to around 12. Check the school’s class size policy before signing your contract.

Do I get help while teaching?

A teaching assistant (TA) is usually present in every class to help you control the children and supply you with teaching materials. The TA is NOT a translator, although they sometimes may do so where strictly necessary.

What is a lesson plan and how do I write one?

If you have a TEFL/TESOL qualification, you will be familiar with writing a daily lesson plan to guide your class learning. It includes elements such as the title of the lesson, the time required to complete it, a list of required materials, and a list of the objectives.

How do I teach English in China if I don’t speak Chinese?

If the school is reputable, it will most likely have rules to ensure the students learn in a 100% English environment. Chinese will not be allowed.

What other duties will I have besides teaching English?

Depending on your school and contract, you may be required to do some of the following:

Promotions: (only really applies to training school or private kindergartens). This is like  a publicity stunt for the school. You (accompanied by your TA) go to a public place like a mall or a library and talk to children, be very friendly and perhaps conduct some level checks for potential new students.

Level checks: a series of questions that you will ask students before they start at your school. Based on their success rate in answering the questions, the aim is to determine what level a student should start at.

Office hours: additional hours to make up any difference. For example, if your contract is to work 20 hours per week but you only have enough classes to teach for 15 hours, then you will make up the extra time by doing additional activities.

Demonstrations: classes aimed at parents to evaluate lessons at your school before they pay the enrolment fee. They usually attend a regular class and, if they like you, they enrol their child in the school. (again, mainly applies to training schools)

How many paid holidays will I receive each year?

It depends on your contract. Generally speaking, there are around 11 national holidays throughout the year, and most contracts will offer 10 additional days. You can anticipate two weeks’ vacation and onepaid vacation day per month. If your sis a school that shuts down during the Spring Festival, you may receive up to five weeks’ vacation. Your contract will stipulate whether this time off is paid or not. This also goes for summer breaks (especially at universities.)

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 live in a place with few foreigners, your face will stand out and ultimately land you some good opportunities. Most teaching contracts will require you to inform your employer of any extra tutoring jobs you pick up and almost all will forbid you from tutoring your own students or students that go to your school. Tutors usually charge between 100-250 RMB per hour.

Will I receive a bonus for completing my contract?

Most likely, yes. Almost all contracts for teaching English in China will include some sort of end-of-contract bonus. There are often flight reimbursements (as much as $1,500) as well as retention bonuses (for keeping your students) and attendance bonuses.

Will I be required to work at outside locations?

This depends on your contract, but many schools do send their teachers on secondment to other schools in the area, especially if you are teaching in a rural part of China where foreign teachers are scarce.

Is accommodation provided?

Yes. It’s either an apartment or a housing allowance.

Is my accommodation single or shared?

This depends on your contract. In the big cities, you might be required to share the apartment to bring down the accommodation costs but most are single living. In smaller cities or universities it’s not uncommon to have larger housing, (3 bedrooms, 1 ½ bath)

What facilities are typically included in the apartment?

It’s usually a completely furnished apartment witha bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom with Western-style toilet and shower. There’s also television, Internet, etc.

Is food included in the salary package?

This depends on your contract. Some public schools offer a complimentary lunch during the school year or at a deeply discounted rate (maybe 1 cny per meal)