New Zealand Embassy Beijing, China

Types of English Language Schools

Most English teachers teach in schools that may be either privately run, or run under the auspices of a state sector organization. These fall into three main categories:

  • English language schools
  • Middle/high school or university language institutes or departments
  • Private teaching/informal classes

English Language Schools

English language schools are found all over China but the majority are located in the eastern provinces. Some institutes are well known with many branches while others are smaller and short-lived. The English language market in China is extremely competitive and many institutes fail.

Many schools employ a number of expatriate instructors from English speaking countries (including USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand) for conversation classes. Teachers may have some tertiary and teaching qualification/s - as a rule of thumb teachers will have a degree and two years teaching experience.

The typical full-time employee can be expected to work 20 to 30 hours per week with classes of between 20 and 50 students. Students will probably be school or university students, or young white-collar workers contemplating overseas studies or trying to improve their English conversation skills. Some of the better institutes will provide accommodation for instructors. The monthly salary range is about RMB 4,000 to 8,000.

Middle/High school or university language institutes and departments

A number of the major schools and universities in China operate foreign language departments. The standards of these institutes tend to be high; most teachers have teaching of English as a second language (TESOL) qualifications and years of experience.

Because these institutes are government-run, teachers who work there seldom experience problems with obtaining employment visas. The pay, status, and benefits offered also tend to be among the best in China. Monthly base salary is about RMB 6,000 to 10,000 and up.

Private Teaching/Informal Classes

Many teachers may also teach part-time at another institute or with privately arranged classes. In principle private instruction is illegal.

Keep in mind that over the past few years, China’s immigration authorities have tightened their control over work visas. If caught working without an appropriate visa, you may not be able leave China until any fine has been negotiated and paid. When considering private teaching, know the law and understand that you may be taking a serious risk if you are caught working without permission.

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