Teach English in China - Travel, Earn and Learn with EF English First
76% Rating
(29 Reviews)

Teach English in China - Travel, Earn and Learn with EF English First

EF English First, a division of EF Education First, is the world’s leading privately owned education company. Founded in 1965, EF operates in 53 countries around the world. We have vacancies for teaching positions right across China, so if you enjoy the fast pace of cities like Shanghai, or if you'd rather be immersed in the more traditional culture of a smaller city, we have the position for you.

Join a supportive community of EF staff and teachers from day one. We’re here to provide the assistance you need every step of the way, from preparing your legal work visa to airport pickup. Although you do not need to speak Chinese to live and work as a teacher in China, you will have the chance to take free Chinese classes with EF local staff, while you will also be invited to join in on our regular social and cultural events. There’s so much to experience when you live abroad, and EF English First will help you make the most of this great opportunity.

  • - Sponsored English Teaching certification (No experience? No problem! We pay you to become qualified)
  • - Upfront paid flights
  • - Ongoing professional development training
  • - State of the art classroom facilities
  • - Over 200 schools located in over 60 cities across China
Asia » China » Beijing
Asia » China » Shanghai
Asia » China » Shenzhen
Asia » China » Guangzhou
Asia » China » Chengdu
Asia » China » Shenzhen
Program Type
1 Year+
Salary / Benefits
Competitive local salary (exact salary is dependent on your qualifications and experience and will be discussed during interview)
- Bachelors degree
- Passport holder from UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Australia, South Africa or New Zealand
- Clear criminal background check
Classroom Audience
High School
Middle School
SIM cards
Some Activities
Starting Price
Other Locations
60 cities across China, from Harbin in the far north, to Urumqi in the far west.

Questions & Answers

According to their site, it is a requirement. Here's the link for more info: http://www.englishfirst.com/trt/gudlp/teach-english-in-china.html?utm_source=gooverseas&utm_medium=webad&utm_campaign=visitsite
You can definitely apply as a couple. We have lots of couples working for us here. It’s a good idea to state that on your application form. Generally the regional manager will try to place couples near but not in the same school as each other.

Program Reviews

  • Benefits
  • Support
  • Fun
  • Facilities
  • Safety
  • Instruction
  • Support
  • Value
  • Difficulty
  • Job Assistance

Program Reviews (29)

32 years old
Shanghai, China
Alvernia University

Honest company, Great experience


I have worked predominately in EF's adult schools, and over the past two years I have met some of the best people in my life. From the students to my colleagues I have been beyond lucky with the people I have encountered.

When I first came to China, I only expected to be here for 1 or 2 years, but after I saw unlimited opportunities both inside and outside the company I decided to stay longer to develop myself professionally. At the end of 2 years of teaching I decided that maybe it was time to utilize my MBA. There were many opportunities across China, but I chose to stay with EF because this company has always been upfront and honest with me; I value that. This is a very large company (200+ schools in 50+ cities), but it still operates under a "small business" mentality. There are some aspects that make you know you are working for a large company (unavoidable), but the people you work with/report to give a very "small business" feeling.

Also, at EF, they are willing to take new and experienced people and give them opportunities to achieve what they desire. If you want to move up in the company, those opportunities are available. If you want to change cities for a new experience, please do! If you want to stay where you are and just enjoy life, you are welcome to. As long as you give EF your best, EF will return the favor.

I hope this helps. In full disclosure, I still work for the company, but the same review would be written if I didn't.

How can this program be improved?

The implementation of programs and communication of expectations from the external sites (outside the initial school) could be developed a little better. At the schools, sometimes there is very little time to adapt to new initiatives from the head office before the next one is rolled out.

25 years old
Northumbria University

Great opportunity for new Teachers!


My time as an EF Kids and Teens Teacher was mostly good. My co-workers and students were great, which made the work day go very quickly. I had Thursdays and Saturdays off, which I preferred, as I had time during the weekend to be with friends outside of EF. However, this did mean I would miss out on some social events on Tuesdays (as this is the day most teachers have off in most ESL schools). My work load was reasonable and the pay is pretty good (more than enough to live off of in China).

The biggest positive to EF is the size of the company. As it's so large and has been in China for years, you have the security and the help when you first move e.g. Visas, apartment hunting and training. Without this support it can be very stressful and overwhelming if you have to do it yourself. It also means there's a lot of other career opportunities in and outside of teaching.

How can this program be improved?

More paid Holiday

26 years old
Shanghai, China
University of Tampa

Reputable Company with Great Opportunities


My time with EF English First has been a positive two years. From the beginning, I was at ease with the communication with my recruiter and the application process. Once I arrived in Shanghai, I was given many resources and training sessions to help make me a confident teacher.

My first year was focused on learning the job and learning about my new home-away-from-home. In my second year, I focused on involving myself more with the company and was given opportunities to not be "just a teacher".

From experiences in the classroom and travel experiences out of the classroom...to the new friends I've made, I've enjoyed my time with EF.

40 years old
Dover, DE USA

Think again if you're an experienced teacher.


EF is probably a good way to get a foot in the proverbial door, if you're someone who has no teaching experience or qualifications. But if you are experienced, want to teach and not work in sales, want a sane, supportive environment conducive to personal and professional growth, do NOT go with EF.

Too many classes and students, too much pressure to make sales and keep customers, high stress environment not conducive to good education. They're operating on something of the Google or Facebook business model right now- cool, hip work environment with a flimsy management structure where everyone can be free to contribute THEIR ENTIRE LIVES. This may work in other organizations, but EF just left me wondering what I was working so hard for.

The pay isn't great, the "mission" is not reflected in the curriculum or behavior of management, you will likely not be appreciated for your contributions. You could easily ascend the ranks, but that's likely because everyone with any sense has gotten the heck out of there long before becoming a manager and you're the only one left!

I would agree that different schools can give one a vastly different experience- if you have a strong DOS with a good head on their shoulders (who can keep the CD under control and from setting a purely money-focused tone), you may have a decent time.

But it's not worth the risk. I would suggest you look elsewhere, unless you have no experience and just need to get started.

Response from EF English First

Thank you for your feedback. We appreciate the fact that you see EF as a company where you can start your teaching career and gain experience in ESL teaching.

At EF we pride ourselves on the support we offer on arrival, and the training we provide for our new teachers. We also offer a vast array of career growth opportunities both inside and outside of teaching. Our popular Teacher Recruitment and Training department offer support and training for teachers who want to develop their careers, and we work hard to make this a possibility.

We try our best to deliver an excellent experience for both teachers and students to meet our mission of opening the world through education. Our curriculum is designed with these purposes in mind to make teaching and learning a rewarding experience for teachers and students.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that all of our teachers have exactly the same experience at EF. We will continue to work hard and develop initiatives that improve the experiences of all of our teachers.

If you would like to get in contact with us to talk more about your experiences with EF and how this can be improved, please send an email to [email protected]

1 year old
University of Hull

Great Start and Great Support


When I first found EF, I thought it was too good to be true.

I found a nice website, it looked modern and had lots of information, so I applied. I heard back within two weeks and then I had an interview. The interview went really well and within a few days,I was offered the job. Too easy I thought. I read some old reviews online from around 4 or 5 years ago and began to feel like it wasn't what I thought.

However, my recruiter gave me a link to a site where I could find other teachers. I was able to get in contact with someone and they put me at ease. They said that the schools were clean and modern. The visa process is supported and made easy, and they pay on time which I've heard is an issue for lots of other companies. On the whole, the managers and the people at EF are friendly and welcoming, but from what I heard the kids schools tend to be busy.

I took a gamble after this, a leap of faith, and everything was as described. I got the support. I settled in, I moved cities and we had free events to attend and an annual ball which I wasn't expecting.

I must say though, EF does encourage you to take part and work. Along with the qualifications that you can receive, you're expected to teach 25 classes a week, and have office hours. It's not a holiday and is a job. But over the course of a year, there are national holidays and days earned in lieu. The salary does go a long way as long as you don't live off international cuisine which is more expensive. With the money and these days, you can travel across China. Just work wisely.

How can this program be improved?

A few more holidays, or flexible time. These are offered, but not everyone is aware of extra holiday time.

38 years old
Shanghai, China
University of Delaware

Great Bridge to China


EF is a very large and well-established education company. As a result, they are very good at bringing in international teachers: every part of the process, from my visa application to arrival and onboarding, was professionally handled, and I never had to worry about being left adrift in Shanghai.

For similar reasons, I never had to worry about what to do in the classroom. EF's teaching materials are professionally designed, frequently updated to use new technology, and very teacher-friendly.

I was a teacher with EF in Shanghai for more than 2 years, and as of tomorrow I'm leaving my school to work in the company's main China office. I've had a great time overall, with wonderful Chinese colleagues and other international teachers from all over the world. There are plenty of opportunities for travel, socializing, and professional development, depending on what you're interested in. Plenty of international teachers just come to teach for a year and go home, some of my friends wanted to branch out into non-ESL teaching and found it easy to move on to international schools, and I was able to move into product development when I wanted to do something new.

How can this program be improved?

For a qualified teacher (certified in Europe or America), the pay is not great compared to what's available in international schools.

37 years old
Durham University

EF is a learning organization


Work at EF

I have been working in EF as a teacher for over three years. If you ask me about my experience in EF, I can tell you it is an learning organisation where you can truly enjoy the privilege of being a teacher. Here you can not only meet teachers from various cultures but also have opportunities to learn, apply and try. The trainings and courses cover a wide range from practical onboard training to different online courses (in both academic and management areas).

On top of that, here in EF, if you are talented, you have numerous opportunities to shine. Take myself for example, last year I was enrolled in a EF Teens school material development team, where I worked with other creative and hardworking teachers, and get the supported autonomy from the senior managers. You can imagine the moment when all the project participants received the book they co-wrote and read the thank you note from the project leader.

If you want to enjoy the privilege of being a teacher in a dynamic learning organisation, EF is definitely your best choice!

How can this program be improved?

It would be great if there are more cross-departmental (teachers, sales and service staff) communication in centres.

35 years old
Shanghai China
Wayne State University

Great Place to Word


Unlike some other schools, EF has it's own courses and books. There is a lot of room within the pre-made lesson plans for the teacher to incorporate their own ideas and games. And since EF is a big company there is room for growth and promotion. You can continue to be a teacher or you can move to marketing, or research or other jobs within the company. The pay isn't bad either for non-Chinese employees, within my first two years of living in China I have visted three other countries and countless towns and cities in China. Shanghai is like every big city in the world as there are H&M's, carrefour, Toys r us, and other foriegn stores here. The Visa process was easy and uncomplicated for me. I greatly enjoy working with EF and I have just finished my second year.

How can this program be improved?

Teaching for kids and teens I do have to work the mandatory summer camps and I also have to work on weekends.

27 years old

EF the company


EF is a very good initial company to work for as they will provide you with a lot of assistance when it comes to getting Visas and getting settled in a new country.
They are also good at helping you to develop within the company especially if you are proactive in this area.
The two main negatives about EF is that compared to international schools the holiday and pay isn't great, but there is more support and the requirements are less demanding. The second thing is that EF is a business and so will prioritise customer satisfaction.

How can this program be improved?

I would recommend EF as a great gateway company if you are interested in working in China but the need to perform for the parents rather than just purely concentrating on education can be a bit tiring.

33 years old
Shanghai, China
University of the Free State

My experince thus far


I have been with EF for almost two years, and plan on renewing my contract for a third year. Ef always pays you, and always pays on time. You get options for insurance, and the options are great. As a teacher for Kids and Teens, you have excellent resources available, from textbooks, flashcards and games, to an interactive whiteboard. Lessons are very easy to teach, with all materials provided. Your visa is 100% legit, not like some other schools in China that give you an illegal visa. What I enjoy the most about my school, is the team of people I work with. They are the reason I am happy to work for EF.

How can this program be improved?

The pay could be better, and the company could afford to recognize teachers efforts more and show appreciation.

27 years old
University of Sheffield

Great for development


EF is a great place to work if you want to develop with a well-known company in the ESL field. You can get involved in lots of different things - including completely qualifications like the CertTESOL and the DipTESOL, you can also get involved in writing for some of the courses as well as lead projects in your school. Because it is a big company you are not tied into teaching forever (although you can move up in teaching) but can move into other aspects of the company.
Whether you work for online, kids and teens or adults, EF changes quickly and in the time I have been here nearly all the courses have changed a little bit with more technology being used and extra materials being provided to help teachers.

How can this program be improved?

It would be great if more open communication was possible between teachers and upper management.

39 years old
State University of New York- Fredonia

Opening Doors through Education


For those seeking an international teaching experience, EF has locations around the world. Working with kids, teens and adults, the centers allow students to take lessons with local and foreign teachers.

Diversity is EF's middle name as the native English teachers come from a wide-range of backgrounds but their commonality is their love of children and education.

Adding a creative spin to the structured curriculum, teachers add in stories, games and songs to enrich the lessons as well as making learning fun. Seeing students' progress, understand a new idea or have fun learning makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Get ready to start a new chapter of your life and open the book on your EF career.

How can this program be improved?

I've joined the school's ambassador program and am working with headquarters to making arrival and improve teachers' lives at their centers.

32 years old
Guangzhou, China
Southampton Solent University

A great workplace.


Working with EF is like any other job, if you put the work in, you will receive just as much back.

I came to China in early 2013, being my first ESL job i was quite daunted by the thought of travelling across the world. EF recruitment made this process much easier by offering great support and answering the many questions that I had.

Once I arrived with my intake group we were put in hotel in the center of the city for 2 weeks whilst we got to grips with the city and introductions. We were given an agent to help us find an apartment who was very helpful and tried her best to get us a discount on the rent.

The first 2 weeks are filled with training's and introductions to the many parts of the company. This often flies and next thing you will be working in your center.

As a new teacher I was given all the support I needed and was assigned a mentor to help me through the first 2 months. The staff at my center were very helpful and guided me throughout.

32 years old
University of Kent

Advice that you can use


I really recommend working for EF but thought giving advice would be better than talking about individual instances of blame and praise.

The Recruitment Process.
You have Skype interviews where you find out more about EF and they find out more about you:
- Have your documents scanned and ready for submission.
- Check emails regularly and double check interview times for your local time and China.
- Be honest about what type of city and students you want. Adults, Kids or Online students. Big modern or smaller traditional town. Ask yourself why and then communicate it.
- Wait until the confirmation from EF before you book your flight.
- Take the free online Chinese classes while you wait, it gets you into 'China' mode and you will be surprised how much you remember when you get there.

You are given two weeks in a hotel with your fellow newbies and have training with them. Most people find a good friend or two from this group:
- Take the interest free salary advance, having that cash as a buffer is very useful.
- You have two ears and one mouth. Your listening to talking ratio should be the same, there will be a lot of new information so give yourself the time to take it in.
- Download apps called 'WeChat' and 'pleco' they are very useful. Try to have unlock your phone from its carrier before you come.

You will be given an online TEFL certification before you arrive and get a free qualification from the University of Cambridge called the TKT. Every week you have a training sessions ran by your boss:
- Sign up for the free distant learning courses, especially if you are a newer teacher. They help you if you stay but make your more employable if you leave.
- The CertTESOL and DipTESOL are also available but you have to pay for them. If you are staying in ESL then make taking these very high on your list of to dos.
- The free Chinese classes help when you are a beginner but you will want to find a tutor if you want to go beyond that


I lived in the most expensive city in China with the highest cost of living and I am from London where I am used to paying over the odds. The salary gives you enough to live comfortably but not extravagantly.

- Rent is your biggest expense, live with other people instead of your own. It saves money and is more fun. Why fly half way around the world to be a recluse?
- Bring an emergency credit card, your home country banking card and a little savings.
- Sign up the medical cover offered by Met life with your package. It makes things so much easier than trying to skimp and get caught out.

The Company Culture.

EF is a business that sells education to paying customers. This is good and bad. Most people think of education as being altruist and usually in the state sector.

- Customers satisfaction is important to the company so keep that in mind. If you have experience in the service industry you will know the customer is usually right even if he is usually wrong.

- Most of your colleagues will be Chinese and that might present challenges because of cultural misunderstandings. As soon as you say 'back home we....’ you have lost the argument and missed the point of why you are not at home.

- You will progress if you’re proactive and competent but some of the promotion structures are a bit opaque. Management varies but highlighting a problem and offering a solution will stand you in good stead.

- Most people work weekends and unusual hours to match when the students can take classes. I miss having a normal schedule.

The Teaching/Classroom experience

None of the centres are more than 10 years old and most are usually placed close to a train station. They are usually in shopping malls so that was different from my idea of a school.

- The best part of the job are the students, they will view you with curiosity and bombard you with questions. Some might seem strange but remember that 98% of people are Han ethnic Chinese, they haven't met someone like you.

- The majority of lesson planning is done for you because the materials are prepared by the company and focus more on speaking and listening communicative tasks. This is very different from traditional lecture style classes and experienced teachers from none ESL backgrounds might find that challenging.

- Use resources like www.englishpage.com to brush up on some on your grammar. As a native speaker you might know how to use something without knowing why or how to explain it.

- The work is easy and
Final thought:

EF is a good company that will suit a lot of people but not everyone. Being the largest company in the industry and having schools in 60 cities mean there is variation so some of the very good and bad reviews might be isolated instances.

Going on a website like this is a good start but also educate yourself on China and ask the recruiter for testimonials or a chance to speak to current teacher.

The person who has the most power to affect your experience is you. Be proactive, open to change and honest with yourself.

My linkledin in https://cn.linkedin.com/in/akbarkarenga if you want to connect.

32 years old
University of Maryland

HORRBLE Company and Management


EF did a horrble job at helping us accommodate to China. They did not even tell us that we needed 100RMB for the security deposit at that low-quality hotel they made us stay at (which, by the way, they changed it to at the very last minute--great planning, huh?). Furthermore, EF poorly advised us on how to choose an apartment. They made it sound like we HAD to use an agent, and find a place RIGHT AWAY, regardless of how ridiculously expensive the rent was. They don't care! HQ is utterly and totally unreliable. Why do they not respond to e-mails? Why do they take forever to get things done? Third, we had awful healthy insurance. Our policy from socialist Sweden takes forever to reimburse the money--I had to e-mail them several times to get my money, and I had to pay a money transfer fee whenever they paid me back--outrageous! Why couldn't those idiots just pay me back in RMB?

EF teaching materials are for the pits. Slides are replete with vague and incomplete grammar explanations, as well as just inappropriate topics for a Chinese audience (one lesson asks students to say what they would change about government--since they didn't want to go to jail, class didn't go so well).

Management COULDNT CARE LESS about employees and what they think. Even though WE are the ones who do the teaching, and know what is best for the students, our opinions do not matter. EF is only concerned with the profits they can get from the naive Chinese consumer, who would be better off taking lessons at Wall Street or WEB International English. I knew a guy who almost got fired for expressing his religious views. It is not wonder the turnover rate is so high, and EF does not even pay for your airfare.

Response from EF English First

Hello and thank you for your review. Communication disparities and issues can arise like in any job, but when it happens abroad it can be even more frustrating - we understand. We’d like to discuss these challenges and work with the managers in your school to find solutions to improve your experience. We are willing to listen to teachers and need your input to create an environment wherein all employees feel valued. We always strive to promote a positive environment and continuously develop our managers. Please reach out to your Academic Operations Manager (Product Head) and the recruitment team so we can help solve these problems and prevent any from happening in the future.

42 years old
Shanghai, China
Trinity College

Not the best place to work


I worked for EF a few years ago. They used to take great care of their teachers and made the experience fun, however they for some reason decided that teachers were no longer important. They stopped caring about teachers and saw them as a separate body from the rest of the EF team and were not even included in the Centre Parties. I've heard that things have improved a bit. The thing that really annoyed me was they were placing fake reviews on many employment web sites because so many people were giving them a bad review. When a company starts doing this, they obviously have serious moral issues. If you see a review saying it's the best company ever, i would guess it's a fake. If you want to work in China for just a year, then work with them. They will work you hard but the interaction with students is worth it. The adult students I worked with were mostly fantastic and gave me the chance to learn a lot about the Chinese Culture.

32 years old
Shanghai, China
University of Vermont

It's who you know...


EF is a superior company to work for because it is well established within China and worldwide. As a company, they are very good at getting you here safely and getting you setup right away. The salary relative to the cost of living (even in Shanghai) is quite comfortable. If you're genuinely interested in teaching as a career, you can certainly develop here and there IS tuition reimbursement. EF boasts a battery of other avenues for self-development; however, this really depends on who you know. Someone said, EF is really Business First, and in my experience this is true. There is somewhat of a competitive atmosphere within the company and you can choose be part of it or just do your job and enjoy China. If you're planning on living in a big city, be sure to make that perfectly clear-if not, you will most likely be shipped off to wherever EF is expanding in China, i.e. 2nd tier cities (this can be a good thing if you're seeking more authentic Chinese cultural immersion).

How can this program be improved?

The company would benefit from more transparency about the process of promotion as to avoid being regarded as favoritist. Sick leave is essentially docked pay, so take your vitamin C. The flight allowance could be increased; it currently barely covers your trip home, when and if you leave the company.

32 years old
University of California- Los Angeles

Great place to work!


I've worked for EF English First in China and it was a wonderful experience. The staff were super friendly, very helpful and gave me a lot to be thankful for as I worked my way through the nuances of living in China. I was able to grow as an ESL teacher, learning the best practices for classroom engagement and challenging my students.

The schedule allows you take maximize your time here, on my days off I go exploring in my neighborhood or take a weekend trip to places around China.

Teaching resources are readily available as well - the lesson plans are easy to follow, but allow you to add your own spin if you want. In addition, there are a lot of training opportunities from teaching certifications to courses that expand your knowledge of teaching the more specific & technical aspects of English language learning.

I've made so many friends here and will be staying for a long time to come!

How can this program be improved?

To be honest, very little about EF English First needs to be changed. A few things take some time to get used to, but overall the experience was great.

Some observations:

-EF's pay might be considered low compared to other schools, but we are provided with health care, tax breaks and Chinese lessons.

-The schedule is different from the 9-5, and includes working on Saturday & Sunday, but teachers get two consecutive days off during non-peak times - meaning the crowds of China are gone when you go exploring during your free time. Your friends will likely have the same time off as you, so don't worry about that.

-Chinese students have been taught English by Chinese teachers. This means know they are set in their ways of grammar and vocabulary, but have difficult using it in speech and listening. It can be difficult to change their views on how English is spoken, but you are their teacher and eventually they will appreciate the value of a having a native English speaker instructing them.

24 years old
Dalian, China
Ohio State University

EF is a joke, DO NOT work there


My boyfriend and I are Americans and have been teaching English for 2 years. We have a TEFL, BA, and job experience in business, etc. We never worked for EF just interviewed, but it was ridiculous. The interviewer, was extremely rude and degrading. The questions were borderline insane, and made us both very uncomfortable. It was by far the most uncomfortable interview we had ever experienced. Once we saw how incredibly rude their staff was, we knew the job wasn't for us, but on top of that they hardly offer any benefits!

If you are looking for a job in China, DO NOT teach here. You can find much better pay at practically any company across China. The hours are double what most other jobs offer, and the pay is not good, even if it is your first year teaching. Try other sites like goldstar recruiting, first leap, or rockies recruiting. The staff is so friendly, hours and pay are fair, and you won't get treated like an incompetent idiot during the job interview!

32 years old
University of Michigan

Ok if you are looking for good pay in China


I taught at an EF Adult school in China.

The good things about EF:
1. You get a Z visa
2. The pay is enough for local living

Bad Things:
1. Little support for learning Chinese
2. Long work hours

About The Provider


How we began: EF English First was founded in 1965 by a young Swedish entrepreneur named Bertil Hult. Our first office was modest and our concept was straightforward: take Swedish students to England to learn English.

Who we are: Almost 5 decades later, EF Education