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seeking visa and TESOL/TEFL guidance for newbie


PerryJ
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I stumbled upon this forum while doing research on visas for working in China. You will be able to tell from my post that I’m a total newbie at this, but here goes.

I have B.S. in Chemistry and I’m seeking to find a job teaching English in China for the upcoming Chinese school year. But I’m scheduled to go to china with a company I went with last summer as a volunteer English teacher on July 2. I learned today that I can not switch to a Z visa while in China on an L visa.

 

I wanted to get any feedback on what my best course of action would be.

I am considering getting an ESL certification while in China, but do not know how that might work, or if I should look for jobs before getting the certification, or even if I can get the certification while in China on an L visa, while looking for a teaching job. I’ve been told that it’s easier to find a job while there.

 

So my questions are as follows.

 

1. What TESOL/TEFL certification(s) would give me the best chance of finding an English teaching job in China?

 

2. Is it possible, or even sensible, to travel to China on an L visa, look for a teaching job, and then travel to Hong Kong to switch to a Z visa once I am hired?

 

3. Or would it be better to get a job before traveling to China on July 2, 2015 without a TESOL/TEFL, cancel the L visa that I have applied for, and apply for a Z visa now?

 

Any input would be greatly appreciated.

 

I’ve have been looking at various TESOL and TEFL certifications, but with the vast number companies out there, I have been unable to decide which would give me the best opportunity for finding a fitting teaching position in China. I was originally looking to do it online, and nothing too expensive, as I don’t plan to make ESL a career choice at this point. I am only looking for a certification that is highly regarded among private and government ESL teaching programs in China, and internationally recognized.

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I am sure that many others will offer better advice but until then you need to consider the requirements for an application for a z visa.

 

You have a Bsc. Check. In fact, that may be very useful for you to find work in that field with a decent salary.

 

Unfortunately, I have to ask, are you from a nation where English is the official language?

 

Have you work experience (at all)? Your age may also be a factor.

 

You have come to a great site in all things China and I am sure other more experienced posters will offer much better input.

 

ps I think if would be best to apply for the z visa at home and not do the second visa route. Although this depends very much on the institute that you will be teaching in, you fulfilling the requirements and the location of the said institution you will be landing in. Good Luck, it seems you have a very positive outlook!

 

edit

 

pps In regards too certification, that would depend on your abilities. I started teaching TEFL type courses in my home country and only got the certification as and when our school applied and received British Council Accreditation. Your Bsc will go a long way.

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1. What TESOL/TEFL certification(s) would give me the best chance of finding an English teaching job in China?

 

If a company is willing to accept an online or unaccredited TEFL certificate then it really doesn't matter which one you have. They aren't really worth anything more than the nice certificate they give you. This enables your school to get your expert certificate and proceed to get the residence permit. The only time it may be worth doing one over the other is if the school/company you want to work for offer one 'in house'. This will likely be more relevant and use the books /resources that the schools use.

 

2. Is it possible, or even sensible, to travel to China on an L visa, look for a teaching job, and then travel to Hong Kong to switch to a Z visa once I am hired?

 

You can no longer get invitation letters for Hong Kong so no, that wouldn't be sensible. I'd find a job from home and get everything sorted before you go.

 

3. Or would it be better to get a job before traveling to China on July 2, 2015 without a TESOL/TEFL, cancel the L visa that I have applied for, and apply for a Z visa now?

 

See above.

 

It's not "easier" to get a job while here but it does take away some level of uncertainty as you can actually go to the school that wants to hire you - assuming it's in the city you are potentially in. However, as you are unlikely to be able to get a Z visa in HK, you'd have to go to China, take a look, then fly home again to apply for your visa. In the past, when you could go to HK, then it might be an idea but currently, it's better to do it at home.

 

As GaHanna also mentioned, you really need to be from a Native Speaking country as well. For many jobs in bigger cities, you need to be over 25 years of age and have 2 years teaching experience. Rules are bendable but it's best to tick as many boxes as you can. The fact you have a degree ticks one box (that is the 'has a degree' box) but it doesn't make you more desirable than another candidate as, technically, all teachers should have a degree in something. It might help if the school wanted you to teach business English and you had a management degree or, in your case, wanted some chemistry classes done in English... etc

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Regarding the idea of finding a job while on an L-visa and switching to a Z-visa (I have gone this route twice), I once went to Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia for my visa run, rather than HK. This was a number of years ago, and I don't know if getting a Z visa in Mongolia became impossible at the same time that getting one in HK did. Maybe worth looking into (or ChTTay or someone else here might know). It is an interesting trip in its own right.

 

Many, but not most, employers of foreign teachers in China ask for a some kind of ESL certificate as a base requirement. Some specify a 100-hour course with a practicum component (i.e. not online).

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I would phrase that "most ask for a TEFL cert but few care what kind it is". This is especially the case for schools in less desirable places to live, smaller companies with one school, smaller Universities etc etc. If you are looking at somewhere like EF, Wall Street English... Then you'd need a CELTA or certified TESOL with observed teaching practice yada yada.

Before I arrived in Beijing I heard someone do a visa run to Mongolia but that was 3 years ago. Not heard anyone do it since. If they are closing off HK I'm not sure why they would have left Mobgolia alone. The safest, least stressful thing would be just to apply at home.

You should just the school to speak to previous and current teachers, research the city/area online, find out the exact school location (Google maps) and generally do your research on anywhere before agreeing to go. Be wary of some internet reviews as mostly it's angry and annoyed people who post reviews, not people who had no problems.

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This is much needed and much appreciated information guys…Thanks. I am from the U.S. and 44 years old, so those may be factors to consider as well.

 

But it sounds like my best course of action is to cancel going in July to teach on an L visa, and just focus on finding an English teaching job and getting the Z visa, since that is my ultimate goal. That’s kind of a bummer, but the best or correct way to do things isn’t always the desirable way.  

 

GaHanna is so right, this site is a great resource on all things China. Wish I had come across it a couple months ago when I started looking at doing this.

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