China’s big population and increasing demand for learning English have created a fast growing market for English training in the country. Amid this historical trend, thousands of English training schools and organizations as well as college and universities have been recruiting foreign teachers to enhance their teaching ability especially in listening and speaking. Nowadays, having a foreign teacher can greatly add to a private school’s profile. Therefore, foreign teachers will find it quite easy to find a teaching position so long as you are a national from a major English speaking country and you have a bachelor’s degree. It is, however, not as easy as this to find you the best one from a bewildering array of choices.
For a prospective teacher who has never come to China and thus has no personal preference before embarking on job hunting, it is essential to take into account a few factors to decide for a teaching job. We will put them as follows, hoping these can be of help to you.
1. Geographic location of the school
China has a vast territory of 9.6 million square kilometers, with mysteries of 5,000 years’ history buried in every inch of the land. China’s geography ranges from the rain forests in the south to the snowfields in the north, from the world’s biggest and highest plateaus area in the west to lower lands in the east. This gives you a wide range of location choices, you may like to work and live in the following parts.
THE SOUTH AND EAST AREAS
Southern China is believed to be the most vibrant part of China, with many cosmopolitan cities such as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hangzhou, beautiful natural resorts and places of cultural and historical interests, as well as thriving private industries and vibrant nightlife. The south is warm and humid, much of the landscape covered by hilly grounds and some flatlands and mountains. There are not heating facilities in the south, and so it is chilly in winter especially in the mid area. People in the south normally speak their own accents and do not speak standard mandarin Chinese. This is because the standard mandarin Chinese is based on a northern accent. People in the south are said to be more capable of doing business, so there are many rich people there. There also many people of minority nationalities living here.
Major province and cities in this area:
Guangdong Province: Guangzhou, Dongguan, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Foshan, Zhongshan, Zhanjiang
Shanghai City (municipality directly under the Central Government)
Zhejiang Province: Hangzhou, Ningbo, Yiwu, Wenzhou, Shaoxing, Taizhou, Zhoushan, Jinhua, Jiaxing, Chaozhou
Jiangsu Province: Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi, Changzhou, Xuzhou, Yangzhou
Jiangxi Province: Nanchang, Jingdezhen, Jiujiang
Hubei Province: Wuhan, Yichang, Shiyan, Xiangyang, Jingzhou, Huanggang
Hunan Province: Changsha, Yueyang, Changde, Zhangjiajie, Xiangtan
Anhui Province: Hefei, Wuhu, Bengbu, Huainan, Anqing, Maanshan
Guangxi Province (Zhuang Autonomous Region): Guilin, Nanjing, Liuzhou
Guizhou Province: Guiyang, Zunyi, Anshun
Fujian Province: Fuzhou, Xiamen, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou
Yunnan Province: Kunming, Qujing, Yuxi
Hainan Province (tourist island): Haikou, Sanya, Qionghai
THE GREATER NORTH
Northern China is roughly plain grounds except mountains in the northeast, climate being dry and cold (heating is available in winter here). Compared to the south’s natural beauty, the north gives people a more culture- and history-related impression. People from many northern areas speak standard mandarin Chinese or accents very intimate to it. People in the north are believed to be frank and straightforward and easy to get along with. North-south difference is distinct in China.
Major provinces and cities in this area:
Beijing City (the capital)
Tianjin City (municipal city directly under the Central Government, half an hour’s train to Beijing)
Henan Province: Zhengzhou, Luoyang, Kaifeng
Hebei Province: Shijiazhuang, Baoding, Cangzhou, Tangshan, Qinhuangdao
Shandong Province: Jinan, Qingdao, Yantai, Zibo, Dongying, Weihai
Shanxi Province: Taiyuan, Datong, Linfen
Liaoning Province: Shenyang, Dalian, Anshan, Yingkou, Jinzhou
Jilin Province: Changchun, Jilin, Siping
Heilongjiang Province: Harbin, Qiqihar, Jiamusi, Mudanjiang
Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region: Hohhot, Baotou, Chifeng
(Liaoning, Jilin, and Heilongjiang are the three provinces in the northeast China, with Heilongjiang located in the fastest north.)
THE GREATER WEST
The west area is less developed due to its geographical disadvantage, but is also well known for its unique landscape and well preserved natural views. These vast highlands, with mysteries buried underneath its deserts and snowy mountains, attract millions of visitors from around the world every year.
Major provinces and cities in this area:
Sichuan Province: Chengdu, Chongqing, Yibin, Deyang, Mianyang
Shaanxi Province: Xi’an, Xianyang, Yan’an, Baoji, Hanzhong
Ningxia Province (Hui Autonomous Region): Yinchuan, Wuzhong
Gansu Province: Lanzhou, Jiayuguan
Qinghai Province: Xining
Tibetan Autonomous Region: Lhasa
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Urumqi
On this vast territory, we do not believe there is only one city that can meet your requirements. But we do encourage you to work and live in one city and travel to many other cities and areas. Believe us, China has much more than you think to offer you, and your earnings will be enough to support you travelling around. When considering for a city, we suggest you to take into account such factors as size, history, traffic, climate, living standard, natural environment, living facilities, etc.
2. Salaries and benefits
Salaries and benefits vary greatly in different places and individual schools. Normally salaries in popular cities such as Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou are higher, where living standards and qualification and requirements are also much higher; salaries provided by private training schools are higher than public schools and college and universities, while public organizations may have more holidays and less work hours. It is up to you to decide which is the most suitable for you. As a middleman, we will endeavour to make sure that you understand all the objective information to make the decision.
Typical benefits provided to foreign teachers include: airfare reimbursement (usually conditional on you completing the contract), free accommodation or reimbursement, travel reimbursement (often conditional), heather insurance, yearly paid holidays, free mandarin training or other social activities. When recommending a school, we make all this clear to you. However, it is to your interest to ask for more details of this, for example, sample photos of the accommodation provided.
3. Students’ age range
The majority of English learners in China are students ranging from kindergarten and pupil to middle school and university ages and adult learners. Children do not really need formal education, teachers should use more interactive and relaxing methods to build up students’ interest and help them to learn the surrounding world in English, while middle school and college and university students usually have practical purposes for their English training – to pass examinations. And adults often seek to improve their English skills in business negotiations or public speaking. As a result, teaching different age groups may require different qualities, skills and methods. It is absolutely to your interest to consider about this before taking up an offer.
4. Work time
Generally speaking, there are two kinds of employers for English teachers in China: private training schools and general education schools. Normally, private training schools give much higher salaries than general education schools. This is partially because the former often works in nights or weekends although some also have courses in working days while the latter follows the academic term schedules. What’s more, the latter also gives teacher more holidays, tanking the summer vacation as an example. It is up to you to either earn money and really learn skills for the market or get immersed in the general education environment. No matter which applies to you, work time may be an important concern.