Being a Foreign Teacher in China

Teaching English in China is the most common and straightforward way for foreigners to make a living in the country. Unlike foreign student visas, which are unavailable during the epidemic, working holiday visas may still be obtained, making this a perfect chance to get international experience and make some money in the meanwhile rather than paying for college.

China's Educator Workforce: Job Categories

It is true that some foreign instructors in China do not speak Chinese as their native tongue, although this is becoming far less prevalent. Some people are language educators. There are a small number of native Japanese and Korean instructors, most of whom work at universities or specialized private schools catering to students interested in learning a European language. There is also a small but significant number of people whose primary or only source of income is teaching, often in the fields of (foreign) culture or technical specialty.

In China, English instructors come in a wide variety of forms...

Nursery teacher, elementary school teacher, secondary school teacher (mostly lower middle school, since upper middle school focuses more on passing university entrance exams than learning native English from a foreigner), and even university teaching jobs are all available in the state system (where classes can be an English major, which usually leads to a career in teaching English, or Translation, or maybe the Business English part of a Business degree).

Foreign English instructors in the private sector instruct pupils as young as three and as old as adults, often all in the same school. Smaller, often one-on-one, courses and higher salaries are the norm in the private tutoring industry. Though it was possible to get by without a work visa, TESOL certification, and other necessities a decade ago in the private sector, this is no longer the case, particularly in the late 2010s.

In Chinese or state-run institutions, foreign professors are seldom seen as more than a transitory asset, a means of luring pupils, or a means of showing off prestige. If they don't know Chinese, this is much more so. It's not uncommon for staff to leave after less than two years. In China, filling the time between finishing college and starting a profession is often filled by teaching English in a school or university context.

In China, working in a private, particularly an international, school usually means a longer and more rewarding career as a teacher. However, many language schools have closed down during the pandemic years owing to loss of revenue or increased restrictions.

Guidelines for International Faculty

In the late 2010s, China began a widespread crackdown on corruption, and one of the targets was the widespread practice of bending the rules for foreign instructors.

Some schools allegedly defraud instructors out of'recruitment fees' and withhold salary in order to make a profit off of illegal immigrants before they are deported. But there are also examples of teachers misusing their trusted position, living outrageously, damaging society, or giving a low level of education.

Politics and religion are off-limits in the classroom and in casual conversations with Chinese students and faculty because they are in any Chinese workplace. Now, it's possible to get the death penalty for saying or doing anything that may be seen as a kind of government defamation or criticism, or as a type of religious proselytization. Once upon a time (maybe as recently as the early 2000s), educators and students in China were freer to express their opinions on the country's political structure, current events, and their own personal ideas and perspectives without fear of repercussions.

To teach in China, you need either a bachelor's degree, citizenship in a country where English is the official language (the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa), and relevant language teaching qualifications (like a 120-hour TEFL), OR at least two years of experience teaching English as a foreign language.

In China, educators are now prohibited from possessing the following.

Viruses and other potentially fatal infectious disorders (those tested for include TB, HIV, hepatitis B, and syphilis)

Ailments of the mind (past or present)

allegations of sexual harassment

any past drug abuse

Since 2017, stricter regulations have been issued (or newly enforced), including the right (requirement) to fire teachers who break the law (with particular reference to drug, sexual, and religious offenses) or who teach or promote in non-acceptable material in class (faith or "freedoms" — basically anything that contradicts the Party line).

Men may retire at age 60, whereas women can do so at 55. In the United States, foreign teachers are not hired by public institutions or companies subject to government regulation after they reach the age of 59 (or 54 for women).

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