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A First-Time Teacher Looking to Work in China


James Hill
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I am a 20 year old British student interested in pursuing teaching as a career, and would like to build some experience in an ESL position. China is my first choice location, but I am unsure about a few details.

Acquiring a work visa, for example, is complicated by the fact I don’t have a bachelors degree (I’m taking a gap year after two years spent working towards a Liberal Arts BA in an American university). I also have no practical teaching experience (save 3 years of youth football coaching), although I completed a 120-hour TEFL course over the summer. Will this adversely affect my chances of working in China?

In terms of classroom logistics, do most English lessons in Chinese institutions take place during evenings and weekends? Would it be harder to find a 6-8 month placement, as opposed to a 12 month commitment? How flexible is holiday leave?

I’ve got an offer from one of the job placement agencies with which I’ve registered, but I’m still keeping my options open. The placement is in Ankang, Shaanxi; if anyone has any experience in this region, I would be very grateful.

I would really appreciate any insights into the applications process, documentation and Chinese life in general.

Thank you for your help in advance!

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Hello James,

You are perfectly qualified as a English teacher.

Just look for job offers for English natives and contact them. They will arrange the visa for You, You only have to sign the working contract.

Read the working contract properly. You might get something like 20 hours work per week, but they don't mention that You have to correct papers at the weekends and need additional time to prepare class. Also check out if You get paid during the holidays. If something is not mentioned in the working contract chances are good it is to Your disadvantage. In some schools You also have to be present at weekly meetings or present for student inquiries for 1 hour per week. Unpaid, because You don't work during these particular activities. This depends however if You go to a renowned or some backyard school. Ask them if anything is unclear and make them include it into the working contract.

Good luck,

Erbse

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About the location:

Ankang is a small city in the middle-western of china.

It’s not so developed,can't compare with those big cities such as Beijing、Shanghai、Xi'An、Guangzhou。

There are three train corossed here. You can go easily to Xi'an、Beijing、Shanghai、Zhengzhou.

You can reach Xi'an in 2 hours by taking the electric train.

Also,AnKang has a good scene and it is a historical city.

Don't worry too much,you can live good there.

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Acquiring a work visa, for example, is complicated by the fact I don’t have a bachelors degree

Not all schools require a BA and work experience. Sure, it's the "ideal", but the demand for teachers is so high that if they only hired teachers with those qualifications, schools would have difficulty filling all their vacancies.

I also heard a long time ago that 95% of the teachers that go into ESL only do so for a year or two, and then return home. Career ESL teachers are few and far between compared to the hoards of new teachers just looking for a year or two abroad to pad their resume.

In terms of classroom logistics, do most English lessons in Chinese institutions take place during evenings and weekends?

Private schools will be heavy on weekends and week nights. Universities will be heavy during the weekdays from 9 - 5, with some evening classes.

Would it be harder to find a 6-8 month placement, as opposed to a 12 month commitment?

Private schools may be more flexible for shorter contracts. Universities generally want teachers for 10 - 12 months.

How flexible is holiday leave?

Private schools will be more flexible than universities. Even then, many schools only allow extended travel/holiday around the Chinese public holidays.

The placement is in Ankang, Shaanxi

Do your research. Search forums, wikipedia, etc.

I would really appreciate any insights into the applications process, documentation and Chinese life in general.

Check out www.middlekingdomlife.com. It's a fairly straightforward, and slightly negative, view of life in China as an ESL teacher. If you can read through their guide and still be adamant about coming here, you'll do well.

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