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What are the teaching English in China requirements?

China is becoming one of the most popular places to teach English in the world. It certainly has the most TEFL opportunities with thousands of positions advertised online every year. The question is, what are the teaching English in China requirements?

Do I need to be fluent in English to teach English in China?

Yes! To teach anywhere in the world, you need to have an impeccable level of English. In some cases, you may need to provide an English-fluency certificate, such as TOEIC or IELTS certificate. This is also the case in China and without a high standard of English, you won’t secure a job here.

Do I need to be a ‘Native English Speaker’ to teach English in China?

Yes. To be eligible for the Z working visa in China for the purpose of teaching English, you will need to be a passport holder from a ‘Native English Speaking’ country. In the TEFL world, that means that you must be from Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, South Africa, the UK or the US.

Do I need a Bachelor’s degree to teach English in China?

Yes. As with the rules about ‘Native English Speakers’, the teaching English in China requirements include a Bachelor’s degree. This is part of the requirements for the Z working visa set by the government and is not decided by the employer.

Do I need teaching experience to teach English in China?

No. The vast majority of teaching positions in China do not require previous teaching experience – though any experience you have is a bonus! Many TEFL employers in China are happy to take on qualified candidates with a high level of English and help them learn on the job.

Occasionally you will find teaching jobs in China that do require previous teaching experience; however, these are usually for higher-level positions.

Are there any exceptions to these teaching English in China requirements?

Yes! There are a couple of other options for teaching in China without a Bachelor’s degree or without being a ‘Native English Speaker’. For example, there are some Teaching Internship opportunities in China that do not require a Bachelor’s degree. (Though, it’s worth noting, these do not grant you a work visa, these grant you a student visa and you will need to study as part of the internship.) And it is occasionally possible to work in more remote areas of China without a ‘Native English Speaking’ passport. Finding these jobs is more complex and it may require extra time and effort to find them.

More about Teaching Internships in China

If you are keen to spend time in China for the experience rather than the money, you can do a TEFL Internship. This usually does require a ‘Native English Speaking’ passport but doesn’t necessarily require a Bachelor’s degree.

There are a few differences between a TEFL job and a TEFL internship in China. In a TEFL job, you’ll be able to work full time and the visa you’ll be granted – usually a Z work visa – will be solely for the purpose of work. In a TEFL internship, you will usually be expected to work and study. The visa you’ll be granted – typically an X student visa – will not be solely for the purpose of work and you’ll be expected to study while in the country.

You can find Teaching Internships in China with our sister company, i-to-i.

More about teaching in China as a ‘Non-Native English Speaker’

In some cases, you may meet the teaching English in China requirements as a ‘Non-Native English Speaker’. It will be absolutely essential for you to have impeccable English and some employers may only hire you if you have been educated in a ‘Native English Speaking’ country. For example, if you are from Italy but you got your Bachelor’s degree in Australia, you may be eligible to work in China.

However, these situations are very rare and are decided on a case by case basis. Unfortunately, we cannot confirm whether you are eligible to teach in China as a ‘Non-Native English Speaker’ – only an employer or an embassy will be able to confirm whether you meet the requirements to teach English in China.

It is not necessarily possible to teach everywhere in China as a ‘Non-Native English Speaker’; it is more likely to be possible in smaller cities or cities in remote areas. China has a tier system for cities, with larger, major cities labelled as ‘Tier 1’ and smaller, remote cities labelled as ‘Tier 3’. If you are a ‘Non-Native English Speaker’, you are more likely to find work in a Tier 3 city, such as Guilin, rather than Tier 1 city, like Beijing.

What if I’m offered a job but no working visa?

If an employer offers you a job in China but does not offer you a Z working visa, they are asking you to work illegally. We absolutely do not recommend accepting a job without a working visa as you will risk being fined and deported for working illegally. The only exception to this rule is if you are offered a X student visa to do an internship.

What do I do if I meet the teaching English in China requirements?

If you are a ‘Native English Speaker’ with a Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL certificate, you can start applying to jobs in China now! The first step is to perfect your application – we recommend using our Learning Hub courses on CVs, cover letters and interviews to help you. Once your application is ready, you can start applying to jobs on online TEFL jobs boards, such as the LoveTEFL Jobs Board.

What do I do if I don’t meet the teaching English in China requirements?

If you don’t have a Bachelor’s degree and/or you are a ‘Non-Native English Speaker’, we recommend looking at teaching in countries other than China. There are lots of places where a Bachelor’s degree or being a ‘Native English Speaker’ is not a requirement – you will likely find it much easier to find work in these countries.

To find out more about teaching English in China, check out our guide: Everything you need to know about teaching English in China.

Disclaimer: This information has been provided as a guide on the teaching English in China requirements. You should not use this information as your sole means of research. Always contact employers and embassies for the latest facts on working abroad and working visas. 

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