China’s booming economy, ancient culture, tasty cuisines and incredible landscapes make it an attractive place to visit and live. With a population of nearly 1.4 billion, there is simply an incredibly large market for everything–especially the English language.
Since China began opening up in the 1970s, the country has developed an amazing interest and need for the English language. Though estimates vary, there are more than 300 million Chinese learning English. For many, knowing English–the world’s lingua franca–is integral to achieving professional and personal goals.
A large market, motivated students and the potential to make good money make China a great choice for people who want to develop and advance their ESL career. It’s also a wonderful destination if you want to teach English and live abroad for a while.
Here’s what you need to know about teaching English in China:
Get Your TEFL Certification
While there are schools and training centers in China that won’t require TEFL certifications, most reputable organizations do. To make sure you get the most out of teaching English in China, you should get a TEFL certification before you apply and go.
There are many benefits to getting a TEFL certification, such as:
- You’ll be a more attractive candidate to employers in China.
- You’ll be a better teacher–which means your students will learn more!
- You’ll acquire knowledge, skills, and techniques that will help you throughout your ESL teaching career.
- You’ll get hired by a reputable school or organization that will pay you well and provide the support you need.
Some organizations and schools may provide TEFL training as part of your English teaching contract, so check in advance in this benefit is available. If you want to get a head start, know you can get a TEFL certification online.
If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find countless places where you can get certified. It’s hard to know which ones are good and affordable. To help you, here are three accredited TEFL training academies that do a great job:
- International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT): ITTT offers a vast variety of TEFL training courses. You can take the course online or at a location near your hometown. You can also take a month-long TEFL course in China. Locations include Shanghai and Zhuhai.
- i-to-i: An Internationally recognized institution, i-to-i has lots of TEFL training courses, including 300-hour online and 320-hour combined classroom/online TEFL specialist training programs.
- International TEFL Academy: With online courses and 25 locations worldwide, the International TEFL Academy is quite a convenient place to get a TEFL certification. Classes are taught by teachers with advanced degrees.
Opportunities to Teach English in China
If you want to teach English in China, you can go as a volunteer, paid intern or sign a professional contract. Listed here are some reputable organizations with English teaching volunteer programs in China. Starting as a volunteer is a great way to gain valuable experience and help disadvantaged children and adults improve their English.
Note: For volunteer programs, costs get lower on a per week basis the longer you stay and teach English.
With Projects Abroad, you’ll have the chance to pursue quality international volunteering and internships. The organization prides itself on offering safe projects that allow you to make a real impact on communities around the world. As a volunteer on the Teaching Project in China, you’ll join educators working with school children living in the outskirts of Shanghai. Your focus will be on improving their English, an important skill in today’s world. You’ll get practical experience by putting together lessons and activities to get the children speaking English and learning new words. You’ll also have opportunities to teach extracurricular classes like music, art, and sports.
If you’d like to ease into teaching instead of running your own lessons right from the beginning, you might join the Childcare Project. You’ll have the opportunity to work with local teachers on a variety of subjects and plan fun, educational activities that encourage young students to learn through play.
International Volunteer Headquarters’ Teaching English volunteer program in China places volunteers in government-owned schools in the city of Xi’an, the ancient capital, and surrounding towns and villages. Volunteers are highly encouraged to come prepared with a TEFL certificate. The program is available year-round and starts from one week at $280.
Love Volunteers hosts three volunteer English teaching programs in China:
- Teaching and Assisting in Schools: Arrange educational activities around improving oral English and help staff design the English curriculum. Based on the time of year, you can choose among several locations: Chengdu and surrounding locations in Sichuan, Shanghai and surrounding locations in Jiangsu Province, and Zhengzhou
- Summer Camp Program: Improve the English of children through playing, singing, drawing and reading stories. There are opportunities to teach teens and young adults as well. Locations include Shanghai and Zhengzhou.
- Pre-School Education: Held in various locations across China, this program involves teaching young children basic English skills through games and standard instruction.
For all Love Volunteers’ English teaching programs, the minimum stay is two weeks. Program fees start from $375.
Teach English in China and Have the Experience of a Lifetime
Whether you’re looking for a unique experience during your gap year or wish to launch your ESL teaching career, China is a good place to go. It could even be the start of a lifelong career for you. As a volunteer English teacher, you can hone your skills and boost your experience, while helping underprivileged folks improve their English and build a better future for themselves.