Jump to content
Learn Chinese in China

Is a PhD degree of any help in finding job as english teacher?

Mateusz Janik

Recommended Posts


Does anyone know if a PhD degree provides any advantages while looking for a job as an English teacher in China? On February I am planning to move to China with my girlfriend. I believe she won’t have any problems with finding a job since she has over 8 years of experience as a teacher. I do not, I also do not have any certificate. I am not a native speaker either. What I do have is a PhD degree in Philosophy and also some experience as a university teacher. I was wondering if such things matter as an advantage and if it might compensate –at least partially – my lack of experience an English language teacher?

Thank you in advance for any remarks.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Site Sponsors:
Pleco for iPhone / Android iPhone & Android Chinese dictionary: camera & hand- writing input, flashcards, audio.
Study Chinese in Kunming 1-1 classes, qualified teachers and unique teaching methods in the Spring City.
Learn Chinese Characters Learn 2289 Chinese Characters in 90 Days with a Unique Flash Card System.
Hacking Chinese Tips and strategies for how to learn Chinese more efficiently
Popup Chinese Translator Understand Chinese inside any Windows application, website or PDF.
Chinese Grammar Wiki All Chinese grammar, organised by level, all in one place.

You might want to search for jobs related to your field. Otherwise, Universities advertising for English teachers might be interested in you teaching English AND some classes on your PHD field. This happened to a friend of mine where he now teachers English and a broad course on "World Literature".

A stumbling block will undoubtably be that you aren't a native speaker. If you had proof of your English abilities that might help and if you happen to have a British or American accent. However, with some English teaching jobs it will just come down to your passport.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having an 8 on the TOEFL should help you overcome most native-speaker related problems. There are a lot of non-native speakers teaching English in China, but they usually have to prove their ability.

If your PhD was done in English that would also be a big boost. While philosophy isn't going to be a big draw for subject-specific teaching, depending on how comfortable you are you can easily talk it up to being qualification enough for you to teach History, Literature, high-level English language courses...

Getting a job teaching kids shouldn't be a problem, but with a PhD you could aim a little higher and you shouldn't have too much trouble.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Having an 8 on the TOEFL should help you overcome most native-speaker related problems."

I would agree it definitely could help but I think the OP would still have problems if he is going to try teach English and isn't a native speaker. "Most native speaker problems" seems a little bit too optimistic.

The problem is the parents of students or the students themselves if they are older will often not agree to having a non-native speaker teach English. For private language schools, they just don't want refunds of existing students and would find it harder to recruit (unless they lie about nationality). For a University, they can still face complaints from students and, depending on where it is, may face questions as to why they can't hire a native speaker.

Of course I agree that there are non-native speakers teaching English in China but it is definitely a lot more difficult to find jobs where they'll accept you and provide the right visa. This is regardless how qualified the non-native speaker is.

As others mention though, having a PHD will put you a head in some cases, especially if it was in English. Looking at Universities would seem like the best place to start.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Actually, depending on where it is, I think many parents would not care as long as the teacher has a white face.

Having said that, I would object to a non-native teacher. I know we've had this discussion before, and the consensus is that some non-natives could teach better than natives, but I'd say that is more a reflection of the low standard of some natives who shouldn't be teaching anyway.

The OP's English is good, but still has several mistakes. I certainly wouldn't accept a teacher making a mistake in every other sentence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a non-native speaker you would have to be pretty thick skinned and be willing to put up with a certain amount of racism.  I've seen plenty of situations where a parent has said to the head of language school, "I don't want my child in that class because the teacher is black" or high schools that won't hire a teacher "because he isn't white".  So yeah, as a non-native speaker it'll suck, but it's definitely possible.  Especially in a language school, my experience is native or non-native, racist parents or not racist parents, the number of kids in the class and the amount they're learning and how much fun they're having seems pretty uniform.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and select your username and password later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Click here to reply. Select text to quote.

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...