Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Discussion about jobs in Asia inc. Middle East

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Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Unread postby Nathan » 21 Aug 2014, 07:44

Finding the truth in China is like finding a 40 year old virgin in Los Angeles - especially when it comes to teaching requirements. I just spent almost six hours sorting fact from fiction and learned that so many tefl companies, China job recruiters, and free-lance "agents" are lying through their teeth just to make some bucks selling TEFL & TESOL courses.

The lie they are telling newbie teachers and recent uni grads is that the Chinese government "requires" all foreign teachers to hold a TESOL or TEFL certificate to teach in China. This is total fabrication. No such law nor requirement exists! Others say that the schools in China have this requirement. This is 98% false as well. There is 2% truth in this because out of the 19,789 schools, universities, and learning centers that hire foreigners in China to teach, 393 of them do have policies requiring a TESOL or TEFL certificate. In reality however the 2014 CFTU teacher surbey of expat teachers in China, roughly only 5% of them hold either a TESOL or TEFL certificate.

So as you can see, there is a whole lot of lying going around the internet, by email, and over skype by the greedy wolves of the TEFL training industry who will apparently resort to lying to make the sale.

Everyone including the CFTU admits that a good TEFL or TESOL course can greatly improve your teaching ability but I for one resent being lied to about why I need the expensive training. Here are some related links:

I wrote an email to SAFEA about this and they replied that to teach in China I need the following and as you can see, there is no mention of either TEFL or TESOL training:

A) Bachelor degree from an accredited university
B) Fluency in the English language
C) A Z visa (work visa)
D) A police certificate showing no criminal record

How do you guys feel about the relentless deceit from the ESL/TEFL vendor community?

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Re: Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Unread postby Blink » 30 Aug 2014, 01:26

The below is a direct quote from

"Would you tell a lie to a total stranger for $300? How about $1,000? Okay, so remember this the next time some smooth talking yahoo is sending you emails or calling you on Skype telling you that he/she has “a great job for you teaching in China”. In fact they may offer you two jobs… Job A pays 6,000 yuan per month ($1,000) and Job B pays you 20,000 yuan a month “BUT only if you have a TEFL or TESOL certificate.” Both of these people are lying to you just to collect their fee for a job placement or a referral fee from a TEFL/TESOL training company, The following is 100% fact as you yourself can confirm with your own embassy, the Chinese consulate, SAFEA, or the China Foreign Teachers Union:






Scammers are not stupid – especially in China. To convince you that you need to buy a TEFL or TESOL training course (price ranges from $99 to $4,999 depending upon your own gullibility) they will spam hundred of bogus but appealing “teach in China” ads online every week with high salaries and great benefits, but will insert a sentence that says “TEFL Certificate Required” or “TESOL Certificate” required. After seeing dozens of these ads, people just start to believe the BS and assume that they have to get a TEFL or TESOL certificate to teach in China! One of these spammers was just caught at Yahoo Answers. See:

You further need to know that 95% of all China employment recruiters and job agents are not licensed nor registered to do business in China – even the foreigner who contacted you. They operate from their home of coffee shop, use free email accounts, and disposable cell phone number. They have no office and 70% have no web site. Most of them will not even give you their real or full legal names. In fact 20% of them are identity thieves that are only fishing for your resume and passport scans. Read this article for details:

If you do not know how to find your own job in China contact the CFTU for a firect employers list. If you are a bit lazy and like the convenience of using a recruiter, at least send them this form letter before and insist that they complete every question BEFORE you even send them your resume. If they refuse to cooperate or leave any space blank, they clearly have something to hide and are probably blacklisted at So if you do not use the below form and you later get screwed out of 30%-50% of your salary, or the police arrest you for $10,000 of unpaid credit card debts, don’t say you were not warned. When you work in China as an expat, you are surely swimming with sharks that have an insatiable appetite. We try to starve these predators, but too many newbie ESL teachers keep feeding them."

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Re: Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Unread postby CSang1 » 08 Feb 2015, 11:45

While it may not be a law or strict requirement to hold a tefl certificate, I can see why they would want you to have one.

Knowing English and having a degree doesn't qualify you to be a teacher and doesn't give you vital experience.
Having tefl / tesol qualifications should get you a higher pay because you have a higher skill level.

If you can find a job where you don't need to have qualifications then great but you should really get an actual teaching qualification because teaching is hard...

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Re: Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Unread postby Awalls86 » 09 Feb 2015, 03:25

Seems to me if China deported all the teachers working here on illegal visas without CELTA or the Trinity Cert (or anything equivalent), I would be a lonely ex pat able to call whatever salary I liked (within limits). :D

But ok, so you don't need a certificate, and you'll get paid the same as someone who does - so why should you take any responsibility whatsoever for the work you do? You wouldn't perform open heart surgery without years of medical study and observation, would you? Or fly a commercial airliner without the required number of hours of practice? Would you drive without obtaining a driving licence? Ok, so perhaps by teaching English, you are not putting people at risk of death, and that is why the qualification asked for is cheaper and easier to obtain than a medical degree, or a pilot's licence. You are as much the scam artist if you expect to perform such a job with no training, knowing that you will be held out to be an experienced English teacher.

It is depressingly all lies in China. 95% of teachers (those without any kind of TEFL qualification) are therefore scam artists. 95% (or thereabouts) of Chinese people I have spoken to (had extended interaction with) have simply been out to scam me - one chinese person in 4 months has actually been willing to help me, and I now feel that I should just avoid talking to Chinese people as much as possible, which I do not want to do. It's a vicious circle and one that can only improve with effort on both sides.

We need to be the change that we want to see. If we want the Chinese to take us seriously, we need to show that we take ourselves seriously. We should encourage all prospective teachers to take meaningful TEFL qualifications. We should encourage teachers to ensure that they live legally and responsibly.

Every teacher who is arrested, deported or naively scammed is a black mark against ALL of us. Every teacher who is late for a class, takes unnecessary sick days, or fails to prepare for lessons is a black mark against ALL of us. Every teacher who gets shamefully drunk, every teacher who sleeps with prostitutes, every teacher who takes drugs, every teacher who drops litter and especially every teacher who holds or is held out to be an experienced teacher when in fact they have nothing more than a degree in an unrelated subject is a black mark against ALL of us.

So, we can sit around and moan about the bad hand that China seems to be throwing to TEFL teachers, or we can be the change that we want to see.

Sorry to rant... I am coming to terms with how true everything is about China and it really does sadden me. I'm almost certain that I will leave China at the end of my contract but I really do believe that we are the people to change first if we want respect.

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Re: Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Unread postby Astro » 15 Apr 2015, 10:07

Awalls ... There is NO LEGAL REQUIREMENT for any teaching certificate in China to teach. You do not need a CELTA, TESOL, or TEFL certificate. It is optional and highly recommended, but NOT a mandatory requirement. Your comments suggest that they are mandatory and may confuse some readers here.

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Re: Truth About China TEFL & TESOL Teacher Requirements...

Unread postby John V55 » 15 Apr 2015, 12:25

There's a lot of truth in Awalls86 post above, 09 Feb.

You don’t legally need a TEFL certificate, but as a prospective TEFL teacher, doesn’t it go with the job? Doesn’t, Are you a TEFL teacher? Yes and I’ve got a degree in the Humanities to prove it, sound a bit odd? I think the main gripe here is the selling of them, in return for the promise of work, often at outrageous prices. I think anything over $600 if doing it in Asia at today’s prices is suspect.

Initially, I was always asked if I had a TEFL certificate to teach at mainstream schools, as opposed to private language centres, but that starts to fade as your resume provides the verifiable experience. The certificate says you have some verifiable practice, know the theory and have actually had to stand in front of a class and teach. I’d be very suspicious of someone without a TEFL certificate and I’d ask the following two questions:

a) Did you just suddenly just turn up one day and start teaching?
b) Before you started teaching, how and where did you get the knowledge and practice?

I think a TEFL certificate is an absolute necessity, the only questions are the cost and the scams involved in trying to sell them. The bottom line is this, if you have a degree and a TEFL, you don’t need to pay anyone for a job, I’ll get you a genuine one tomorrow, but you’d need a Degree and a TEFL and that’s the difference between a genuine job and a scam.
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