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Is it possible to find a job as a teacher after arriving?


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I'd like to ask for your opinions, experience and general help in solving one of my recent dilemmas. I apologize in advance for the length of my post.

I'd like to travel to China together with my girlfriend and we both would like to work as teachers there. However, neither of us is a native English speaker. My girlfriend has a Master's degree in teaching English and Russian to speakers of other languages, I will get my Master's degree in teaching Russian and Math by the end of August. Sadly, I won't be able to graduate by the end of June, so I probably can't apply for a job as a teacher in China (since I only found offers that require the teachers to arrive in July). So I thought I'd go to China after I graduate (end of August/early September) and try finding a job when I get there. Here is a brief summary of our situation:


- white, couple, 25-26 years old, both will have TEFL by the end of June

- both (will) have our Master's degrees in teaching a foreign language to non-native speakers (we are both Czech)

- we both have some experience in teaching (my gf has 1 year, I have 1,5 years) and both of us have experience in teaching English

- we are very flexible and open-minded, eager to learn and experience new things

- we can both teach Czech and Russian; I can teach Math as well (in English or Russian)


- I can arrive in the end of August (no sooner)

- our preferred province is Yunnan (it does not matter whether we'd work in a bigger or smaller city, just Yunnan is fine)

- our finantial situation is not really good (I'm still a student and my gf is in her first year as a teacher)

- our level of Chinese will be around A2


Do you think that could work? Or is there any possibility to find a job offer that would allow me to arrive in the end of August?

If you know any sites that could be helpful (other than the first 50 links for "job offers in China" or "teach English in China" ;) ), I'd be grateful for them, too.


Thank you for reading till the end and thank you if you find some time and reply!

Best regards,


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Getting a job as a non-native speaker

Your qualifications will help but a lot of schools in more popular areas (Beijing, Shanghai, ... east coast cities) won't even consider you if you aren't a native speaker. You would be best looking at less popular areas that find it more difficult to hire foreigners. These are the places more likely to give you a work visa, pay you the same and treat you well. There are non-native speakers teaching English in Beijing. Some of them get paid less, are on the wrong visa, or work at 'not-so-good' places but some of them find good jobs and do well. I would say the former group is more common than the latter. As you're looking to work in Yunnan it could work to your advantage, however, I'm not sure what the demand for teachers is there or the kind of job opportunities.

The main thing is not to put yourself in a bad position. Don't accept working on anything other than a work visa (Z visa then a residence permit) and don't let a company make promises of a visa 'later' or 'after you arrive' as they might just keep stringing you along. In the event you get caught, you'll face the brunt of the punishment (probably deportation).

Short answer: it's possible but harder and will likely require more searching/effort than a native speaker.


Arriving 'late'

I can't remember when the school term actually starts but a lot of schools will want you to arrive early to give you induction training and let you settle before you begin. Depending how late/early you arrive they still might accept you.


One problem of arriving in China then looking for a job is that most of the 'good jobs' will already be taken. Schools who haven't been able to fill their positions might not offer a very good salary or perhaps their location isn't attractive. They aren't necessarily 'bad' positions though. Recruiting new teachers is an on-going process and most schools plan around 6 months in advance and start recruiting. If you want to start work in August you should be looking at applying for those jobs around 5-6 months before.


If the term has already started, then most organized schools will already have all the teachers that they need. They won't be hiring.


If the job advert says arrive in July, you could just apply anyway and say you can only arrive in August. If they like you, they may keep you in mind in case they haven't filled their positions by that time. Note that the visa process also takes some time which will delay things.


Getting a job in country

The main advantage often given of being in China while you look is you can go and look/see the job before you take it. For me though, this isn't really true unless you're dead set on a specific location. It might work for you if you've got your heart set on Yunnan. However, the main problem is that if you come to China to 'look' then you're most likely on an L tourist visa. In order to work you'll need that to be a Z work visa. Nothing is ever straight forward in China ... best case scenario is that you may be able to convert that visa to a Z within China but more likely is that you'll have to go back to your home country to get the visa. Essentially you've paid a full round trip airfare to 'have a look'. It's more time efficient and cost effective just to do your research before you go. In the past, a lot of people were able to go to Hong Kong to get a visa but this seems to be less and less an option.

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It might also be worth contacting universities specializing in foreign languages to see if they need Russian / Czech teachers. Not sure if there are any in Yunnan, though, and most of the Russian jobs (probably a lot fewer than there used to be) will be in the north-east, nearer Russia.

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If you're going to be teaching English it might be worth considering taking the IELTS so you can reassure any prospective employers about your level (and they can reassure any prospective students and their parents).

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Hello guys,

thank you all for replies! Especially thank you, ChTTay, for taking your time and clearing many things up for me :), I'm really grateful for all the information you wrote. I'll see how things work out, maybe I'll even manage to graduate by July and then all would be okay. In case I don't, I will postpone my visit by a year - then I'll have those 2 years of teaching experience and I'll have more time to get all the necessary things ready in time.


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