Obtaining a TEFL Certificate in China is an incredible opportunity for teachers looking to expand their teaching abilities, all while exploring a vast and mesmerizing country. China offers a unique blend of both tradition and modernity; the decorated architecture from dynasties of the past, and traditional cultural aspects that paint the streets, mixes effortlessly with modern high-rise complexes and recognizable comforts of home.
Plus, who doesn’t want to chow down on deliciously seasoned mutton to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival or dumplings during Chinese New Year’s Eve? Or, drink copious amounts of chrysanthemum or milk tea and Tsing Tao or Sinkiang black beer?!
As with any TEFL course, future teachers are taught different teaching techniques and methodologies that are associated with teaching English as a second language. Instructors cover a range of learning styles that will yield the most success; obtaining a TEFL certificate in China, however, focuses on teaching styles used primarily in a Chinese classroom, Chinese laws and restrictions that must be abided by during your time in China. A focus on Chinese culture will help you to better understand and teach prospective students, and a course in survival Mandarin is usually given. In addition, you have the opportunity to become more accustomed to China, while training to become the ultimate English teacher!
TEFL + Teach:
Many teaching programs in China provide participants with TEFL training courses before beginning their teaching job. These programs provide participants with the opportunity to study different teaching techniques and methodologies in order to be most successful in a Chinese classroom. The training period usually last between 1-4 weeks and covers TEFL training, but also Chinese culture courses, laws and regulations, and typically a survival Mandarin language course. This TEFL + Teach option is great for participants looking to work for programs that are responsible for providing a school, as well as a liaison-type relationship for the duration of a teaching contract. Note that many of these programs require participants to have a bachelor’s degree, a fluency in English, and a valid passport in order to obtain a Chinese visa.
4-Week TEFL Courses:
This comprehensive course provides potential teachers with the opportunity to study and live in China during the course. Many 4-week TEFL courses provide participants with teaching material, individual training, as well as group training, practical in-classroom training, and services related to air travel and employment placement. Participants looking to gain practical knowledge of teaching, and grow accustomed to China, will find a 4-week TEFL course quite enjoyable. The enrollment requirements include training fees, accommodation fees, a valid passport (in order to obtain a Chinese visa), and to be over the age of 18 (sorry kiddies!).
120-Hour and 140-Hour TEFL Courses:
Similar to a 4-week TEFL course, a 120-hour or 140-hour course usually lasts between 4-6 weeks and provides participants with practical information. The program includes instruction on a variety of teaching techniques, in-class training, as well as useful Chinese cultural information, laws and regulations and a crash course in Chinese. Typically, the 120-hour courses run less than 4 weeks depending upon the program, so participants looking to have more time in a classroom may then consider the 140-hour class. Both programs also provide participants with employment assistance, in order to begin teaching in a school, once the course has been completed. Also, these courses require participants to pay for training fees, accommodation fees, a valid passport to obtain a Chinese visa, and to be over the age of 18 years (still sorry kiddies).
When and Where to Look
The most popular destinations for TEFL course-seeking teachers are the major cities of China: Beijing and Shanghai. Many TEFL programs are based in Beijing – the capital is located in the northeastern part of the country – and they provide participants with the opportunity to explore some of the more famous sights in China.
Want to climb the Great Wall before studying about teaching techniques? Then, Beijing may be the location for you. Shanghai, similar to Beijing in terms of its big city atmosphere, is situated on the coast of China. Shanghai boasts some famous sights as well, such as the Jade Buddha Temple, allowing participants to break free from the TEFL classroom and explore the culture of China.
If participants are looking for a less hectic environment to take a TEFL course, then places, such as Zhuhai, may be the perfect fit. Zhuhai is closer to Hong Kong and Macao, situated on the coastline and allows participants to enjoy the relaxing environment of island living and beautiful scenery. During the months of July, August, and September, enrollment is highest, as participants looking to find employment before the school year begins. Since this enrollment period is very popular, online applications are recommended to guarantee a place in the course, as well as your spot on the beach or in a bustling city.
Don’t go applying just yet – let’s cover the qualifications first before you stumble upon the bright red flashing at the top of the screen of your application! The minimum requirement for many of these programs include a high school diploma, to be 18 years or older, and a valid passport (some programs require a bachelor’s degree as well). The main qualification for all participants is a Chinese work visa, or tourist visa that can then be changed to a working visa once you have obtained a residence permit. In order to apply for a Chinese work visa (Z), a participant needs to get a letter of invitation from their employer, which is the school they are planning to work for.
The TEFL + Teach programs will typically provide participants with these required documents to apply, whereas standard TEFL courses will assist with employment opportunities only after course completion. With this, participants may need to obtain a different visa, most likely a tourist or business visa, which can then be changed to a work visa. These visas are easy to obtain with just a quick trip to a Chinese embassy office or through a visa company.
Well, how do I find a job? After completing a TEFL course, the most common worry is not being able to find employment in China. Don’t start panicking just yet – nearly all TEFL courses provide employment assistance during the course time, and some assistance even after the course completion. Chinese schools are eager and excited to have the opportunity to employ a foreign teacher, in order to provide their students with the opportunity to converse with a native English speaker.
The key to finding employment in China is to understand the struggles that come with teaching and learning English as a second language, such as the times when students have no idea what you’re talking about, or can’t seem to grasp onto the new material and everything seems to be falling apart. To tackle these struggles, you must teach with a solid lesson plan, and display understanding, compassion, and genuine excitement to your employer. Not only must you show that you’re capable of teaching, but also reveal to your students that you care about their success, and of course, about them.
While completing your TEFL course, many companies provide accommodations or assistance to find accommodations for the duration of the course. After the course, TEFL companies will assist with finding housing for either short or long-term stays. The cost of living depends entirely on where you plan on teaching. In the city center, a one-bedroom apartment per month may total roughly $550 USD per month, compared to an apartment located on the outskirts totaling around $350 USD.
However, the day-to-day expenses are relatively low, with meals only costing roughly $5-$10 USD, and a round-trip bus ride totaling $2-$3 USD. A trip to the store to buy milk and eggs may cost you approximately $3-$5 USD, and if you want to splurge on a gin and tonic at the local bar, you may be shelling out roughly $8-$11 USD. The cost of living in China allows many teachers to save money, live within a budget that isn’t reminiscent of college days, and still enjoy the occasional splurge without feeling like you’ve been robbed.