English Teacher Employers in China
These small, privately run schools are not as common as in Taiwan, but they
do exist. Teaching at a buxiban is a good option for someone who prefers not to secure a job through government channels before arriving in China. Regulations are sometimes less strict than at public institutions.
These provide the biggest source of jobs for Westerners. Located throughout the country, these schools cater primarily to adults wishing to learn English. Varying in size and facilities, jobs at government-sponsored schools are the standard assignment for those who apply through the government before leaving home. A college degree usually is required, and a master’s degree or ESL training might garner a pay boost. In middle schools, you will be teaching students from ages fourteen to eighteen whose English may vary from nonexistent to impressive, and your classes will be large (around forty students).
Middle school students are usually under a lot of pressure to study very hard for the college entrance exams, and often stay in school six days a week, twelve hours a day. Your class may well be the only interesting one they have.
Contracts usually run for the nine month school year, with a break during the New Year holiday. For more information on government-run university programs, contact the embassy at:
Office of Educational Affairs
The opportunities for teaching English in China are increasing every day with the opening of more and more privately run schools for paying students where genuine, English-speaking foreign teachers are a great draw. These kinds of schools, usually at the middle- and high-school levels, will be found in the most prosperous areas of the country, around Beijing, Shanghai, and most of all in Guangdong province. At these schools, your basic salary may well be higher than teaching at a state school or university, but be sure to find out exactly what other benefits are provided, such as housing and food. The locations of these schools may also be more suburban. Try to find out whether there is a structured curriculum so you can determine whether your job is really to teach or just to add prestige to the school.
As a native English-speaker you will find it easy to pick up private tutoring or other teaching jobs almost everywhere in China. You do not need to seek these out-they will find you. In the bigger cities, you may be approached by a company representative to teach business English to a class of businessmen, or by a hotel to teach English in a hotel. Don’t worry if you feel you don’t have any knowledge of these particular areas. Usually all these people want is to give their employees the chance to listen to a native speaker. You could make a tidy sum by gathering up a number of these smaller teaching jobs. In a big city, you could charge anything up to around Y200 per hour for private tutoring.
Your teaching experience will vary a lot depending on what department you are teaching in. If you are in the English or Foreign Language Department, you are obviously teaching students with a generally equal level of English language background, but they may have had exposure to foreign teachers before, and they may not be so motivated to better their English and look forward to a nice, steady job as an interpreter. In the business department, however, your students’ English could be at vastly different levels. They may be wildly excited to have the first foreign teacher they’ve ever seen, and they might be super-motivated to improve their English so they can get a good job at a foreign company.
Generally, a foreign teacher at a university teaches twelve to sixteen hours a week. This teaching may consist exclusively of oral English teaching, or a combination of oral exercises, writing, reading, and listening.