Choose a Right School for Your Teaching in China

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Deciding where to teach is the most important decision you make after deciding to move to China, but the options for teaching English can seem overwhelming. Here are some choices.

Deciding where to teach is the most important decision you make after deciding to move to China, but the options for teaching English can seem overwhelming. Here are some choices.

1. Kindergartens
These can be mind-numbingly boring, and if you hate singing don’t apply. However, working with children is extremely rewarding. The kids have almost no inhibitions and are very affectionate. Pay, in a large city such as Beijing, Shanghai or Guangzhou, is a minimum of RMB 150 (about $18) per hour and usually more, with little preparation or outside work. This can be the highest paying teaching job available, but generally does not include rent or a plane ticket, and may require more than 20 teaching hours a week.
 
2. Boarding Schools
Unlike their Western counterparts, boarding schools are fairly common and spread throughout the countryside surrounding large cities. Paying anywhere from RMB 4,000 to 9,000 per month, including apartment and reimbursement for an international flight upon completion of the contract, these are the best deal. Not only does the salary more than cover living expenses, it allows travel, with one month vacation for spring festival, two months for summer, and two weeks’ paid vacation. The younger the kids, the less marking but the more discipline necessary. It is very important to go over your contract carefully, as it is in any teaching situation in China, and talk to several former foreign teachers at the school. Perks can include free food and free Chinese lessons.
 
3. Summer and Winter Camps
These are the best way to make some extra money while traveling. Lasting from one week to one month, you can make RMB 5,000 (about $600) for two weeks. Although these are intense work environments, it is well worth it. Not only is it a great experience to interact with kids, but you also get the chance to spend time with Chinese teachers and college students (like camp counselors). You can also consider working at a camp during a holiday from your regular job.
 
4. Part-Time Teaching and Tutoring
This is something you can generally do only after living in China for a while. Find students by posting ads on web sites or through personal connections you make while teaching. Students are readily available.
 
5. Teaching for a Recruiter
Being approached on the street by recruiters is a daily occurrence for a foreigner living in China. They will take around 50 percent of the total salary, but working for a recruiter does have benefits: you are going to be working for public schools that can’t afford a full-time foreign teacher.
 
6. Business English Teaching
Teaching business English usually requires a TEFL certification (which can be acquired in China or Thailand) and a heavy workload—more than the usual 15-20 hours a week with evening and weekend hours. However, the students in this setting are very eager to learn and work hard. The company may provide lesson plans and should give a housing allowance in addition to the base salary of around RMB 8,000 (about $970) a month.
 
7. Advanced Degree Programs
If you have a master’s degree, particularly an MBA, you can make a good salary working as a professor for a master’s degree program at a university. The teaching load is light, but you will have to do lots of preparation for lectures, paper assignments, exams, and hold office hours.
 
 
8. Career Teaching
If you are a career teacher you can make a good salary, paid in foreign currency. You can save money and live like a king. The salary is up to $40,000 a year. Competition for these jobs is a lot fiercer than for the other foreign teacher jobs.
 

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