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looking at 3 options (for teaching English), and I wanted to get feedback


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I am a black American seeking to teach English in China. I’m all too familiar with the preferences that schools in China have for English teachers having visited there last summer. I’ve been reluctant to bring this up in seeking advice and guidance, because I didn’t want it to become a limiting part of my thinking in my efforts, but as the saying goes, reality is what it is. So, I am looking at what options I have to make this happen.


I am from the United States, I have a B.S., and taught art for 7 years, but have not TESOL of TEFL cert (but willing to get one). I taught at a private arts school, and I am not a certified teacher here in the states.


I posted on this forum before in reference to getting the proper visa, and from those replies, it’s clear that I can not (should not) work in China without a Z visa, and that I will be unable to convert any type of visa to a Z without leaving China; which brings me to my questions. I am schedule to teach summer camp in China starting July 2, on an F visa. I was hoping to secure a job so to get a Z visa before leaving the states so not to have to return, but that looks unlikely. I have been applying for jobs, but haven’t gotten any positive responses. I’m not even sure that I would even have time to get a Z visa at this point. So I’m looking at 3 options, and I wanted to get feedback on what these might entail.


  1. Go to China on the F visa, and look for work, then return home to obtain a Z visa. Couple of problems with this is the expense of multiple trips, and the fact that my mandarin is poor at the point. The up sides of this option is that I would be able to check out the schools, and it may be a bit less difficult to get job interviewing face to face and accessing me, instead of my photograph.
  2. Take a class on a student visa while looking for a job, then return home to obtain a Z visa. Again, the expense of travel and the added expense of having to pay for a class. The only upside would be that it give me a bit more time to job search.
  3.  Apply for one the many language placement programs out there such as http://www.willexceltesol.com, or http://www.languagecorps.com/teaching-english-china/, who claim to guarantee job placement. This option comes at pretty big expense, and I’m somewhat skeptical of any organization that makes such guarantees. But given my circumstance may be a good way of getting my foot in the door. The biggest downside of this option would be that I would probably have limited choice in what province I would like to teach, and of course the investment.


I have focused my search on Hebei province because I really liked it there last year, and I know a few people there, which would be a big help. With the first 2 options, I would be able to be in the Hebei province, but would be just spending money without a job, and I’m going to China to teach in order to make money. I’m starting to think that I should broaden my search to increase my changes of getting a job?


Any thoughts, or additional suggestions, on this would be greatly appreciated. For anyone who may be wondering, I am an excellent teacher. I know this having worked with kids for several years. Last year while teaching in Hebei, some of the younger kids seemed to be a bit afraid to me at first, but they all came to really like me (the ones who stayed in the class), and they learned some English, I made certain of that.

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I’m all too familiar with the preferences that schools in China have for English teachers having visited there last summer.

These preferences will likely be more keenly felt in any job search if you're looking at popular cities and areas to live. Schools off the beaten path a bit (well off any tourist trail) are often quite desperate to get enough teachers in. These places also tend to be able to bend visa rules/guidelines for this reason also.



it’s clear that I can not (should not) work in China without a Z visa 。。。。。。。 I am schedule to teach summer camp in China starting July 2, on an F visa.

You know that teaching at a summer camp on an F-visa counts as working 'not on a Z-visa' , right?



So I’m looking at 3 options

I don't think any of your options are that good. I'd forget the summer camp entirely and stay in the states until you find a job in China. It doesn't seem worth spending the money to fly here, do the summer camp "maybe" find a job, then have to fly back if you do find one (and also if you don't) only to (potentially) return again on the right visa.


You mention studying full time here for a while but it doesn't really seem like that's what you want to do so it, again, seems like a bit of waste of money and time. Also, any decent school will cancel the visa the give you if you don't turn up consistently (to stop people using them as an excuse for a visa).


I worked for 'Aston English' in China when I first arrived. They have schools all over China so you could check them out. The online reviews are all awful but they have franchise schools ... so each one tends to be different. For me, I thought it was a good starting point.

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  • 2 weeks later...


I’m starting to think that I should broaden my search to increase my changes of getting a job?

This is my thought when looking at your situation and the options you're considering. I have yet to be convinced that being in the country is all that much of an advantage for finding a job (especially due to visa rules), so I have my doubts about options 1 and 2. As for option three, my instinct is to avoid placement programs. As you say, they involve a big expense, and just what kind of job do they "guarantee"? Instead, I would suggest casting your net (a lot) wider. Post a job wanted ad on various China or ESL job sites, get in touch with as many recruiters as you can and mention your situation, and search for schools that advertise jobs on their own websites (you can check Wikipedia's "list of universities in China" and visit individual universities' English websites, which sometimes advertise job openings). As a general rule, if you can find a job through a placement agency, you can find a better job on your own if you do a thorough search.


In several past years, I made a last-minute decision in late August/September to return to China to teach. This actually worked in my favor, as some schools that didn't start recruiting soon enough are in urgent need of teachers and willing to relax their hiring criteria and offer better packages.

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