great wall of China
The Great Wall of China. Photo ©

panayota used under license and adapted from the original.

Working directly with Chinese students and staff will give you a closer understanding of one of the fastest-growing superpowers, and will stand out to future employers.

Your role will be that of a teacher as you will be asked to plan and lead your own lessons. You will receive both online and face to face training to help you prepare for this.

You don't need to speak any languages to apply, but you must have graduated from university and received your degree certificate by the time you start your placement.

Am I eligible?

To teach English in China you must:

  • fulfil the general eligibility criteria
  • be 55 or under at the start of your post
  • hold a valid UK or Irish passport
  • be available from mid-August 2020 to end of June 2021
  • have graduated from university with at least a bachelor’s degree, and have your certificate by mid-August 2019
  • hold a clean record. Candidates who have a criminal record of any kind will not be considered by the Chinese Immigration Authorities
  • have completed a provided 60 hour online TEFL course. 

Furthermore, you will need to demonstrate strong resilience and adaptability. Living in China is a rewarding and exciting opportunity, but it can also be challenging due to the significant differences in culture, interpersonal relationships, work ethics and bureaucracy.

The process to obtain a visa requires commitment from April until departure in August. For this reason, we only select candidates who can demonstrate a strong interest in Chinese culture, as well as a strong ability to navigate unfamiliar and unexpected situations.

When will I start my placement?

Successful candidates will begin their posts in September 2020 but are required to travel to China in early August to complete two weeks of training. Below you will find a list of important dates and tasks you must complete before beginning teaching. They are guideline dates and may change:

  • February-March: candidates who pass the first stage of selection are invited to a video interview
  • March: candidates are invited to an informative online webinar to learn more about the programme. This does not form part of the assessment process however attendance is encouraged
  • March: candidates who pass the first stage of selection are invited to a video interview
  • April: candidates find out whether they have been allocated to a country or if they have been placed on a waiting list. Those who have secured a post in China will find out the location of their post from the British Council
  • April-May: candidates complete the online TEFL course 
  • April – July: candidates complete the visa application process
  • July: candidates attend a pre-departure briefing day at the British Council
  • August: candidates travel to China to complete a two-week training course

Will there be an induction course?

You must complete a provided 60-hour online TEFL training course as part of your preparation for going to China. Candidates are usually asked to complete this during April and early May.

Programme participants will also be invited to a compulsory pre-departure day in the United Kingdom, run by the British Council at the beginning of July that will include advice on teaching and lesson planning. 

In early August candidates attend a compulsory training course upon arrival in China where they will take additional TEFL classes and participate in teaching practice summer schools. This is a compulsory two-week face-to-face training course and teaching practice required to complete the TEFL certificate. 

The location of the 2020 training is still to be decided however as a guide, the 2019/20 training took place in Changsha and 2018/19 took place in Beijing. You should also be offered an observational period of a few days/weeks at the beginning of your placement in China.

How many hours will I work per week?

You can expect to work approximately 16-25 hours per week. Please be aware that your specific timetable and working pattern can vary depending on the region and institution that you are allocated to.

What type of institution will I be working in?

The range of placements available changes depending on which institutions can host a teacher. You can generally expect to be work in a primary school, middle school, high school or university. As in the UK, university students in China will mostly be young adults.

How much will I be paid?

You can expect to earn 5,000 RMB - 9,000 RMB a month. Please note that your salary is dependent on your experience, region and working hours.

Teachers placed in Shanghai may or may not be offered accommodation. If accommodation is not offered, you will receive a higher salary (around 13,000 RMB) which includes a living allowance to cover the costs of accommodation.

In addition, all participants working in China will be offered the following financial support towards:

  • return flights to China (reimbursed up to 10,000 RMB)
  • accommodation provided and paid for (see accommodation information below).
  • a contribution of 3,000 RMB towards visa costs.

Will I need a visa?

The process of applying for a Z-Visa is complex and requires a significant time investment. We will supply guidance to support you in your application. Obtaining your visa will require a visit to the relevant embassy or consulate in the UK. You should ensure that you are in the UK during July and August in order to complete the necessary administrative processes.

In addition, you will be asked to provide copies of the following documents for the visa process: 

  • your passport (valid for the entire duration of the placement)
  • your CV
  • your degree certificate (or student status letter for 2020 graduates*)
  • a signed tutor or employer reference letter.

*The student status letter must be hand signed by a university official, on university letter headed paper and contain your full name (as shown on your passport) date of birth, course title, course start date, course end date, and your graduation date (dd/mm/yyyy or mm/yyyy). A degree certificate is still needed later as part of the process to obtain a work permit on arrival in China, therefore all candidates must be able to obtain a copy of their degree certificate by August 2020. 

We advise you to prepare these documents in advance of hearing the final outcome of their application in March 2020.

Where can I go? 

For 2020-21 we expect to have posts available in Beijing, Chongqing, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hunan, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hebei and Shanghai. The application form allows you to provide preferences, and you will be asked to re-submit preferences should your application be successful. 

Beijing and Shanghai are often the most well-known regions of China but we encourage you to research all regions available. Previous programme participants have highlighted that placements outside of Beijing and Shanghai provide excellent opportunities to live in very large vibrant cities, while also benefitting from a lower cost of living. 

Postings available in Shanghai schools are famed for their teacher development. Teaching in these schools can be more demanding due to a higher number of timetabled contact hours. In return, the schools offer significant continuous professional development. Placements in Shanghai are therefore more suited to candidates who are committed to developing as a teacher or wish to pursue teaching as a career in the future. 

How much will it cost?

Whilst we do not charge any participation fees, and many expenses are reimbursed during or at the end of the placement, there are some costs of moving abroad that you should consider before applying including the following:

  • International Child Protection Certificate (£60)
  • travel vaccinations
  • travel insurance
  • domestic travel to your closest Chinese visa centre
  • the cost of notarising documentation required for the visa process can vary greatly depending on the provider and service used
  • legalising documentation required for the visa (£30 per document)
  • flights may not be reimbursed until the completion of your placement and may require an initial financial outlay
  • money to cover initial weeks in China before the first monthly salary is paid. 

What accommodation is provided?

Accommodation in China is dependent upon each individual institution. In many cases, you will live in on-site accommodation, which may have a curfew for all teaching staff. This can be a source of frustration but compromises regarding times, particularly at weekends, can often be reached. 

Others will live in flats, either by themselves or with fellow teachers. There is a minimum standard agreed to ensure all teachers are comfortable, however you should not expect luxurious accommodation. 

Accommodation in Shanghai is currently under negotiation. As with previous years, if accommodation is not provided, programme participants will receive a higher salary which includes a living allowance to cover the costs of accommodation. You will also be given assistance to find suitable accommodation for the duration of their placement.  

I'm currently working as part of this programme in China – can I apply again?

Previous programme participants wishing to renew or reapply to return to China are welcomed. Please contact the team directly for more information.