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Right now, China is one of the hottest markets for TEFL Jobs anywhere in the world. China’s emergence into a more free market system, coupled with the higher standard of living many Chinese are now enjoying, has made for an insatiable demand for English teachers. The main problem for most TEFL qualified teachers is not if you will find a decent paying job, but which offer you should take.
First, make sure that the school you are contracting with has a good reputation. Talk to other teachers in the area via the internet or in person. The school should put the terms of your employment in writing and answer all the questions you have about the conditions you will be working in.
Be sure you know the population you will be teaching, class sizes, hours you will be working, details about salary, is housing provided or is there a housing allowance, is return or round trip airfare provided, do they have a permit to employ foreigners and will they help you to get a visa and work permit, how many teachers in the last year renewed their contracts, and can they provide you with references for teachers who have worked for them.
This is not a complete list of things to ask, but it provides you with an inkling of areas to have confirmed before you make the leap. The Beijing U.S. Embassy has a very good document on their website with more detailed guidelines (http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/teaching.html).
You can often secure a TEFL Job in China through a recruiting firm before arriving in the country. Make sure that you have a contract from the school itself and have looked into both the recruiting agency and the school. Sometimes the recruiting agency will not really know where they will place you. You want to avoid this situation at all costs.
To teach English in China you technically do not need any qualifications other than being a native English speaker, that’s how high the demand is. However, the more experience you have and the better your credentials the more job options and the higher the salary you will get.
If you have no experience or qualifications and are considering teaching for longer than the very short term, consider getting a well recognized TEFL certificate. This will increase your earning potential, give you important teaching skills, and if you take the right course, give you actual experience in the classroom.
Teaching positions in China fall into three main categories: private language schools, public schools and universities. Universities and public schools are generally lower paid than private schools, with salaries ranging from 6,000 to 8,000 RMB per month. This consists of around 15 hours of in-class teaching per week and normally comes with a housing subsidy of between 1,000 and 1,500 RMB per month. These jobs are generally popular as the students tend to be highly motivated, the hours are relatively short and holidays generous. Public institutions are also inclined to be more consistent in terms of paying on time and giving assistance with visas than are private schools.
You can expect to earn around 8,000 to 9,000 RMB per month or more when working in a private language school, with around 20 hours of teaching per week. The hours are generally longer and there are fewer holidays, although you should still receive free or subsidized accommodation. Many employers also offer a substantial pay raise if you extend your contract after the initial year, while free airfares in and out of the country are also a common bonus with most contracts.
Overall, you should find that you are able to live very comfortably no matter which type of employer you end up working for. You should also remember that salaries and the relative cost of living do vary considerably throughout the country, with salaries being offered in Beijing and Shanghai as much as double those quoted above.
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