Can You Still Teach English in China with Their New Laws?

By Geddy Gee

September 2022 – If you have used the internet or any social media platform over the last few years you will have seen at least a few adverts for teaching jobs in China. The Chinese economy was growing, and growing quickly. Because of that, people were learning English to become more competitive in their careers. By learning English you would be able to study at overseas universities or secure jobs at large multinational companies in China. Even local Chinese companies started listing English as a requirement for applicants. In China, parents want their kids to receive the best education. It’s not just about the knowledge, but the status of having their kids at the best schools and being the most educated.

This created a demand for English language learning centers and many opened up all around China. These centers cater to both kids and adults who wanted to learn English. Classes would typically be from the afternoon to late evenings on weekdays and full days on weekends, so students could join in after they finished up their regular school classes. Joining these extra English language classes was not cheap by any means. With good marketing, these centers would charge high fees for a premium service with expert foreign teachers working there. Because of this, these schools were able to offer teachers really good salaries, usually $2500 – 3000 per month with free flights and accommodation. This was a very attractive option to many as they could a great salary, with almost no experience as long as they were a native English speaker and had a bachelor’s degree.

But then, out of nowhere, the Chinese government decided to stop this. They passed a regulation preventing educational businesses to be profitable. The reasoning behind this was to prevent wealthier kids to have a better chance at a good education than those who couldn’t afford to attend these after-school classes. Teaching jobs in China are either at private language centers, public schools, international schools, or universities, but language centers were the most popular place to work due to the great salaries and the sheer amount of job openings. So once these centers were forced to close, many teachers lost their jobs and were forced to look for new jobs. The worst part about this was that the covid pandemic hit at about the same time, causing lockdowns to be established all around China, making it almost impossible to find a job, and many of these teachers had to go back to their home countries.

Now, almost 3 years later, China still remains closed off to the world and they are still using lockdowns to achieve their “Zero Covid” policy. This has caused many teachers to choose other countries in Asia such as South Korea, Thailand, and Vietnam. But some of these teachers chose to work in China because they love China and Chinese culture and would like to go back. The good news is that by the end of the year things should start to normalize and in 2023 teaching jobs will be back in full storm. Unfortunately, language centers will remain closed, but there will still be jobs at the many public schools, universities, and international schools in China. Let’s look at what it’s like to teach English at these schools.

Public schools in China offer really stable jobs, with good benefits. You can expect to get free accommodation, health insurance, and even paid holidays. Teachers get a lot of holidays so this is really beneficial. These jobs often require you to manage large classes, which can be challenging, but it depends on the school you work for. China is massive and there are many public schools that need foreign English teachers, but with the number of teachers that want to work in China, you can expect it to be really competitive to land one of these jobs. International school jobs are some of the best, but these are for teachers who are certified to work as subject teachers. These jobs are as stable as always and if you want to apply, make sure to complete the required training in your home country. It’s a bit of an initial commitment, but it does pay off, as international schools in China offer teachers very lucrative salaries. University jobs in China are very lucrative and prestigious. The salary depends on the university but is generally higher than public school salaries. But there are many more schools than universities, so there are going to be far fewer openings for these jobs.

If you are an experienced English teacher, you can also consider taking on a teaching job in Hong Kong. These are some of the best-paying jobs in Asia! Hong Kong is part of China, but they have its own immigration, regulations, and currency, so as a foreigner you would see it as a different country. According to a special treaty, it is expected to stay this way until 2050, when it will become part of China. Now Hong Kong is more international than China, so English is more widely spoken, and basic English education isn’t required. Instead, students need advanced English teachers to improve their conversation, writing and speaking. This needs more experienced and qualified teachers. If you have at least 3 years of experience, working as an English teacher you could definitely apply for one of the many jobs in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is well connected to China, and you can easily visit, you can even take the land crossing to Shenzhen. So if you don’t feel ready to go to mainland China just yet, you could always spend some time teaching in Hong Kong, and once become more clear in China you could go there. But one thing you need to remember is that education is one of the most resilient fields. People will always need it no matter what, so do expect China teaching jobs to come back in full force in the future.

Written by Geddy Gee for TEFL.NET September 2022
Ex-teacher, unvaccinated traveler and amateur writer

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