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MeiMay

Qualifications and nationality

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MeiMay

I know for the vast majority (if not all) of English teaching jobs you're expected to be coming to China on a passport from one of the 4-5 countries with "acceptable" English as their main official language. I also know that for many jobs you're expected to have a University degree and experience in teaching English. However, there are some positions open to people without a University degree or experience. Does anyone here know if some of those positions are also open to TESOL certified people who don't have a UK/US/CA/AU passport? How viable is teaching English in China as a profession to someone from a non-English speaking country? Not as a means to earn a great salary but as a temporary profession to stay afloat or as a fallback/plan B?

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imron
How viable is teaching English in China as a profession to someone from a non-English speaking country?

For quite a few jobs, English level is not as important as looking foreign.  If you have white skin, blond hair and blue eyes, you'll be a shoe-in for many English teaching jobs regardless of your native language.

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MeiMay

Oh. What if you look half-white and bleach your hair? Will that help? :D More seriously: do you think it's impossible/very hard for someone who isn't white/blonde/blue-eyed and doesn't have a degree beyond TEFL? I'm not surprised to hear that but I'm still hoping that's not the case.

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imron

Don't worry, in China, blonde ranges from dark brown to white.  Basically, if you look foreign, it should be relatively easy to get a job teaching English.

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MeiMay

Foreing as in not-100%-Asian or foreign-not-even-a-hint-of-E/SE-Asian? I'm not being pedantic, I really want to know if it makes a difference.

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imron

I don't think there's any sort of precise measure and results will vary depending on where you are in China.

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grawrt

Just wanted to add my two cents,

When my friend was looking for a teaching job in China she often got rejected once they saw that she was asian. This is not to say that all schools will reject you, because eventually she was offered a job in Dalian. So if you really wanna teach in China keep trying & good luck!

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Baron

It's just a supply and demand issue. Most schools would prefer to have a well-qualified, whiter than white, young, attractive, slim, anglo-saxon native English speaker. Many will rank preferred nationality, e.g., from best to worst US, English, Canadian, Australian, other UK countries. Some with have a preference for for men over women or vice versa, and often schools will pay foreign teachers different amounts based on their desirability. 

 

Some examples of this kind of bias I came across: a couple US couple arrived in China and the girl got her salary reduced by 1000RMB a month because she 'looked Asian'. She had dark hair and eye brows and ever so slightly dark skin. A French girl was hired by a school to teach English, but not a native speaker who was looked South American. They cancelled her job offer when she sent a photo. A teacher told me they'd been bullied severely by school staff for having acne. An Irish teacher had a hard time, because many schools she applied to thought that Irish people don't speak English.

 

But there are also a lot of non-white teachers with decent teaching jobs. Not all places discriminate. In terms of passports, it doesn't usually matter as long as you can convince them you are a native speaker.

 

If there's a place that will accept teachers with no degree and/or no teaching experience, is either because they can't find teachers and they're likely to take anything they can get, or because they just want so people who look the part and so will only hire people with the desired passport and skin colour.

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MeiMay

Thank you all so much for your answers. It's really helpful to hear from people who have already had experiences with these things :) grawrt: I'm sorry to hear about your friend but I'm happy she didn't give up! That gives me a lot of hope, if I'm determined enough in the end it will be rewarded. If earning less because I don't look white enough is what it takes, then that's what it takes. A job is a job, I'd rather have a job than not haha :) At least until I don't need that job anymore (but I won't skip out on a contract, I don't think that's a fair thing to do). Baron, your last paragraph made an important point I'll make sure to remember. I thought the most likely reason would be a remote/undesirable location or something like that.

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hedwards

I'd like to add that appearance includes action as far as the Chinese go. I got taken through the ringer at several schools on the basis of not acting "foreign" enough. Some of the schools want somebody that's a baby sitter or going to behave like a crazy foreigner to keep the students entertained. Unfortunately, you don't always know that ahead of time.

 

I did find that the students at pretty much all the schools I taught at were substantially more tolerant than the school officials. At the better schools the students wouldn't seem to care about me being zany, they were more interested in learning and were willing to accept enjoyable activities to learn in lieu of zany presentations that were probably counterproductive.

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tytzer

In my experience, I've taught English part-time along side my BA degree... They're definitely looking for someone foreign looking. As far as they are concerned, if you are a native speaking and foreign looking, the jobs all yours (In the agencies that I've applied).. It was particularly difficult for me to find English teaching jobs since I look Chinese. I was only able to get a part-time job with a recommendation from foreign friends..

But back to the main topic, as long as you're not teaching in academic institutes, they don't necessarily need any prove of your proficiency in English.. 

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Suzee

From what I have seen and heard, around Shanghai and Zhejiang you must have a degree to get a teaching job in a school.  Having said that there are many training centers that don't care if you have a degree or not.  I do know for a fact (because of my job) that even in many other trades the government is demanding foreign employees hold a degree to get a work permit.  I have been help a major International company, starting up in this town with investments over US$100 million, have been told even current employees they want to transfer to China because of their skills must hold a degree.  BUT, like in all parts of China that is the rule but when you come right down to business most will know someone in the PSB etc and there are always ways around the Degree if the school desperately needs you and your skills.  Even when the law states a foreigner can only teach until they reach 60, there are many places that still get legal work permits for teachers into their 60's.  My suggestion is just keep trying, don't just look in the major places like Shanghai, Beijing etc, but look in 2nd and 3rd tier towns where the rules are less strictly followed.  Good luck.

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MeiMay

Oh I have no interest in anything academic, I just want a day job to make like 3000元 / month if possible. I don't know what is realistic without a university/college degree. That's all I need to stay afloat/live normally anyway. (maybe not in Beijing or Shanghai but I'm not looking to live in either). If I can make more that's even better :) if I could make 6000元/month I would be happy because then I could save half of that. But I don't know what is realistic without qualifications. I'm getting practice because right now I'm helping a Chinese girl improve her English. I'm making multiple choice questions and other exercises for her and when she gets things wrong I explain to her why they're wrong and if they're grammatically wrong or grammatically correct but just not the way you'd say it. I also pay attention to explain that something is an idiomatic way to say something and that's why it seems odd but that's just the way you say it. I think after I've taught her a while like this I'll have a better basis for teaching in a class environment as well. Of course I'll probably have to get TEFL certified but if I practice even before I do the TEFL certification I think I'll be more prepared. It doesn't hurt anyway :) I think my biggest challenges will probably be looking half Chinese (if that is an obstacle) and behavior. I don't know how to behave like a loud drunken idiot. I'm afraid of people like that. Unlike some of my opinions here might suggest I'm actually pretty meek and calm in person. I have to really make an effort to talk louder (but I'll have to learn if I want to be a teacher 哈哈 ) above someone said they expect you to behave like a frat student on summer break. I don't understand that at all. English is a useful language that opens up possibilities in the business world and parents want their children to learn it as well as possible so they can become something they can be proud of. Why would anyone want an incompetent teacher that wants to have "fun"? If you can explain that please do, I don't get it. Anyway, from what I can see in your picture you do look Chinese 哈哈 if you were able to get a part time job then maybe I can as well. I think i look less Chinese :D

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carlo

 

 

An Irish teacher had a hard time, because many schools she applied to thought that Irish people don't speak English.

That is kind of funny. Do you think one could teach Gaelic or Welsh to a whole generation of people in a remote village and nobody would find out until too late? As long as you have blue eyes, of course. "Descendants of Celtic tribes found in a village in Qinghai"....

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yueni

This is just from personal experience. I am 100% ethnic Chinese (I'm Singaporean, but have been in the US for 10+ years... it's complicated), so I don't look foreign, but I have an American accent, and English is my native language. I do not have a TEFL or TESOL certificate.

 

When I was in Beijing (2008-2010), I was able to get teaching various English jobs, but I was recommended by a white friend of mine who happened to teach there at the time. (They were looking for teachers.) They only let me teach the beginner English classes, even though the students I was teaching really wanted me to move up with them. Instead, the teachers teaching the classes in the levels above my class were all Caucasian-looking. 

 

I attempted to do other teaching things via another channel, but was turned down because "she doesn't have blonde hair and blue eyes, she can't speak English. Get us another teacher." That was literally what the mother said. My Swedish friend (for whom English was his 3rd language) got the job. He had blonde hair and blue eyes.

 

So... yeah. It's not that you can't get teaching jobs. You can, but you'd probably have an easier time if you were Caucasian/foreign-looking. 

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MeiMay

yueni don't worry, I know how it is with "complicated" situations. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, really helpful. That makes me feel kind of ambivalent but I think in the end it's good news. I mean, bad news would be "no way, now how are you ever getting a job teaching English" slightly disappointing but at least it's possible, even if it's not the same job as the blue-eyed blonde would get. :) I will probably have to work really hard trying to find a job but that's okay!

Suzee: thank you as well for your encouraging words. that's true, guanxi is guanxi :) I think I want to live in a mid-sized city anyway so that is good news.

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daveonhols

I think the further off the beaten track you go, the easier it will be to find a job teaching English.  I am a white ang mo, in Xi'an there was a shortage of teachers, people were walking up to me offering me jobs in the street, in starbucks, in book shops.  My school offered me to be a teacher as well at one point.  At that time they had a Spanish guy teaching English, and he used to ask me for help occasionally.  Teir one cities will be more ... competitive I guess.

 

Also, I can't remember where exactly, must have been either Gansu or Xinjiang, but I met a bunch of Nigerian English teachers there.  There English was perfectly decent, certainly better than most native Chinese, but it goes to show you certainly don't need to be white and from UK, US, Canada or Australia to get a job ... depending on how flexible you can be.

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anweshadey16

Hi,

 

I am an Indian with a post graduqate degree. Will I be eligible for teaching jobs in China? English Language I mean.

 

Thanks in advance

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