Can I teach in China with just a TEFL?

Is a TEFL certification required to teach English in China? When looking for a job as an English teacher in China, it's important to understand what they're looking for and how it affects your prospective compensation. As someone who has taught English and lived in China for over ten years, I'd want to share what I've learned with you.

When you start searching for teaching employment in China, you'll rapidly notice two things:

Everyone wants to "assist" you in finding work, and...

China has certain fundamental standards for all international English instructors.

The TEFL Certification, which stands for "Teaching English as a Foreign Language," is one such prerequisite.

It's general known that one of the finest ways to tour China on a budget is to teach English (or, at least, it was until COVID!). What could be better than being paid well to live in another country?

So here's the dilemma:

Is a TEFL certification required to teach English in China, or is it just a good idea?

If you're serious about teaching English overseas, you should definitely look into the TEFL. However, depending on your circumstances, it may or may not be essential.

Is TEFL Required to Teach English in China?

The answer is simply...possibly.

Allow me to explain.

Most high-quality institutions that recruit foreign instructors require new hires to have a university degree. Not only that, but these institutions go above and above by demanding some form of teaching certification.

Schools that do not make it a mandatory prefer to motivate new recruits to get TEFL certification by giving a better wage if you are qualified.

So, unless you have a certain school in mind or are looking for the greatest possible income, the quick answer is:

No, you do not need a TEFL certificate to teach in China.

However, the need for a degree is somewhat different.

What about a university education?

Before I continue, I'd want to point out that circumventing China's university degree requirement is significantly more difficult.

To get a work visa in China, your institution will need to register you as a "foreign expert."

This is not possible unless you have documentation of a university degree.

Do I Need a 120-Hour TEFL Course or a 300-Hour TEFL Course?

If you've decided that acquiring a TEFL to teach English in China is a good idea, the next question you're likely to encounter is:

Is it necessary for me to do the 120-hour TEFL course, the 300-hour TEFL course, or anything in between?

Does it even matter when it comes to teaching English in China?

It's almost comical how many different TEFL courses there are. You may take a 20-hour classroom course, a 300-hour online course, or a combination of the two for a total of 120-140 hours.

It's incredible!

The fact is that the Chinese government doesn't care how many hours you've finished as long as you have a TEFL certificate.

That's correct...

...unfortunately, it doesn't really matter.

People take more than the basic 20-hour training to better prepare themselves for teaching. This is particularly true if you want to teach at a university, where the level of instruction and questions will be higher than in, say, kindergarten or elementary school.

The typical approved TEFL course should cost between $150 and $400 USD, depending on the medium (classroom vs online) and the amount of hours (20 vs 120).

If you locate anything for a substantially cheaper price on the internet, you should be suspicious.

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