Teaching ESL in China
35,119 Certified Grads since 1992

Teaching ESL in China

Teaching English in China gives you the opportunity to learn about a fascinating culture while gaining an extremely rewarding teaching experience. Cities such as Shanghai are booming centres for economy and trade, and the competition for ESL teachers is high but there are many positions available there as well as in other areas of China. The better your credentials, the more opportunity you can find.

Living and Teaching in China
China: At a Glance
China: Living in China
China: Teaching ESL in China
China: Financial Snapshot

Peak Hiring Season in China
How to Find Jobs Teaching English in China
Largest Chain Schools in China
Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in China
Tips for ESL Teachers in China
Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in China
Embassy and Consulate Information in China

Peak ESL Hiring Season in China

Many aspiring ESL teachers have learned that it is always peak hiring season for teachers in China. That being said, it is notably easier to find a teaching job at schools between July and September, as well as following Chinese New Year.

Public and Private School System

Every Chinese child must have at least nine years of education in China. The materials delivered in a Chinese classroom are set by the Chinese National Education Council’s national curriculum. Typically Chinese classrooms are much more crowded than those in North America, with an average of 45 students in a classroom. Schools within the Chinese public education system typically deliver their teaching in Chinese only. Students are more likely to learn English in a private school as opposed to a public one.

Private Lessons

In addition to the high number of job openings in schools, there are a lot of prospective Chinese students interested in hiring an English teacher for private lessons. It is recommended that a teacher interested in providing private English lessons live in China for some time before they start. If a teacher has knowledge of the Chinese language, they can expect to make more money than someone without this competency. Some employers prefer that teachers not take private work ok the side, so it is recommended to either clarify this point with your school, or take this type of work discreetly.

How to Find Jobs Teaching English in China 

Graduates of Oxford Seminars receive our Job Placement Service with exclusive access to established schools and recruiters around the world.

Finding a job in China is much different from other ESL markets due to the many options available to English teachers. There are public, private, and post-secondary institutions all actively seeking TESOL certified instructors. Prospective English instructors must decide on what they are looking for and ask themselves the following questions:

  • What appeals more: living in a rural or urban environment?
  • Which age group would be the best fit?
  • How many working hours are acceptable?
  • Is travelling and time off an important element of the ESL experience?
  • How much of a factor is salary and included living expenses such as apartment space, paid flights, etc.?

Once a teacher decides which elements of a TESOL job in China appeals to them, it is time to begin the job search. Like in Canada, a job-seeker's best tool is usually the Internet and there are plenty of job listing sites that may offer some help.

Please take some time and review the following online resources:

Largest Chain Schools in China

Many ESL teachers living in China find that an international English school may be their best way to begin their teaching careers. There are international private English schools scattered throughout China, though salaries often aren't as competitive for this type of position. In general, smaller private schools are looking for fewer qualifications when hiring a teacher and are usually happy to hire a native English speaker with a TESOL certification. 

Aston English 

With over 140 schools in 101 cities across China, Aston has been in China since 1996 and takes pride in their curriculum. Applicants require a BA, TESOL certification and medical/background check. Apartments, flights, medical coverage and paid holidays are provided. http://www.astoneducation.com/


One of the largest language learning programs in the world, with over 500 gobal locations, Berlitz even has a rather famous associated methodology – the Berlitz method. Berlitz offers in-person and online courses for children and adults, as well as business services such as cultural awareness training, language training for business, and assessment and testing. With 8 locations in Beijing, Guangzhou, Guiyang, Nanjing, Shanghai and Tianjin, Berlitz is often looking for new ESL teachers. Usually a TESOL certification and a bachelor's degree is all it takes to qualify for a teaching job. https://www.berlitz.com/en-cn

Additional ESL Resources to Help Teach English in China

Many ESL teachers find that preparing to travel to the other side of the world to live and work is a lot to handle, but there are plenty of online resources out there to make this transition a little easier. It's important to research things like language, food, and other elements of Chinese life, but be sure to research possible travel destinations and other recreational activities too.

The Internet gives future ESL teachers a chance to read about the experiences that other English teachers have had while working in the People's Republic of China. Not only is there text about teaching in China, there are also videos and forums which allow the ability to communicate with others.

Please note that these are merely examples of the resources available and they may not suit individual teaching needs.

 Tips for ESL Teachers in China 

  • Taking some time to learn words and phrases to help make daily life run smoother will be worth the time and energy.
  • The Internet can be a great tool to save money when an ESL teacher is booking a flight to China.
  • Always remove any outdoor footwear upon entering someone's home.
  • Being open-minded and spending some time exploring China is an excellent way for an ESL teacher to learn about their new 'home-away-from-home'.
  • Be accepting and adaptive of Chinese culture.
  • Learn about Chinese currency before leaving. Study the coins and paper yuan that make up the Chinese money system.
  • Have someone with a good understanding of the Chinese language write out common phrases.

Teaching Requirements for ESL Teachers in China

The requirements and guidelines below are listed for ESL teacher applicants to China who are citizens of: Canada, United States, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa.

Minimum Requirements to Apply for Teaching Positions in China:

  • Oxford Seminars TESOL/TESL/TEFL Certificate (Most cities in China require teachers to have  120+ hours of TESOL/TESL/TEFL certification)
  • Bachelor's Degree
  • High School Diploma (For Internships)
  • Some schools will ask for a medical check or a police background check

Types of Applicable Visas:

  • Z Visa (Employment/Work Visa) - Ideal work visa for an ESL teacher in China
  • L Visa (Tourist) – Sometimes used for entry into China while Z Visa processed
  • D Visa (Permanent Residency) – Designed for those who intend to live permanently in China

Important Visa Information:

  • It is preferable to get the Z Work Visa processed while in one’s home country prior to relocating to China.
  • Some applicants enter China on a tourist visa with the assumption that they will be granted the proper Z Work Visa; however, some find that it is not granted because they do not have the necessary qualifications or documentation.
  • If asked to apply for any visa other than the Z Visa, it is prudent to be vigilant in ensuring the legalities of it based on the contract received.
  • Visas will only be granted if there is sufficient time remaining on the applicant’s passport (typically six months, however this should be confirmed by local Chinese embassy/consulate).
  • In addition to obtaining a visa, an entry permit is required. The option is given to purchase a single entry permit or a multiple entry permit. It is best to consult with one’s school/recruiter to determine the most appropriate for the particular situation.
  • Applicants with AIDS, contagious tuberculosis, venereal diseases, or other such infectious diseases, along with those who suffer from a mental disorder, will not be granted a Chinese visa.
  • One must apply for a visa at a Chinese embassy or consulate in their own country unless they have permanent residence in the country from which they are applying.
  • One must apply for a visa in person or send a trusted person to apply in person on their behalf.

Standard Process for Obtaining Legal Documentation to Work Legally in China:

  • The applicant secures a contract with a legitimate school.
  • The school applies for a work permit on behalf of the applicant.
  • The applicant applies for an Employment/Work Visa at their local Chinese embassy/consulate once they have received confirmation of a work permit.

Standard Required Documents for Visas:

(Important to check with a Chinese embassy/consulate as variations in requirements sometimes occur)

  • Completed visa application.
  • A valid passport with at least six months remaining and at least one blank page.
  • Recent passport photos (Specifications should be confirmed with local embassy/consulate).
  • Copy of contract.
  • Visa Notification Form issued by Chinese government department or government agency.
  • Proof of legitimate status in country of residence.
  • Foreign Expert Work Permit issued by Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs, or Alien Employment License issued by Chinese Ministry of Human Resources.
  • The embassy/consulate retains the right to ask for additional documentation during the application process.
  • Diplomas, degrees and certificates applicable to your employment will need to be notarized and then authenticated by the Chinese embassy or consulate.
  • Health certificate (Q2 Physical Examination Record for Foreigners – downloadable from embassy website.) This may not be required initially.
  • For Former Chinese Citizens: Original Chinese passport and any passports with Chinese visas must be submitted when applying for visa.

Embassy Information in China 

Canadian Embassy Offices in The People's Republic of China

Canadian Embassy in Beijing
19 Dongzhimenwai Dajie
Chaoyang District
Beijing 100600 PRC
City: Beijing
Phone: 86 10 5139 4000
Fax: 86 10 5139 4448
Email: beijing.consular@international.gc.ca
Website: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/china-chine/
Normal Hours: Monday to Thursday 8:30am - 11:00am, 1:30pm - 3:00pm and Friday 8:30am - 11:00am

American Embassy Offices in The People's Republic of China

United States Embassy of Beijing, China
No. 55 An Jia Lou Lu 
Beijing 100600, PRC
City: Beijing
Phone: 86 10 8531 3000
Fax: 86 10 8531 4200
Email: BeijingWebmaster@state.gov
Website: https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/embassy-consulates/beijing

British Embassy Offices in The People's Republic of China

British Embassy in Beijing
11 Guang Hua Lu
Jian Guo Men Wai
Beijing, 100600, PRC
City: Beijing
Phone: 86 10 5192 4000
Fax: 86 10 5192 4239
Email: consular.beijing@fco.gov.uk
Website: http://www.ukinchina.fco.gov.uk/en/
Normal Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 12:00pm, 1:30pm - 5:00pm

Irish Embassy Offices in The People's Republic of China

Irish Embassy in Beijing
3 Ritan Dong Lu
Beijing, 100600, PRC
City: Beijing
Phone: 86 10 8531 6200
Fax: 86 10 6532 6857
Email: https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/china/contact-us/all-other-queries/
Website: https://www.dfa.ie/irish-embassy/china/

Australian Embassy Offices in The People's Republic of China

Australian Embassy in Beijing
21 Dongzhimenwai Dajie
100600 Beijing, PRC 
City: Beijing
Phone: 86 10 5140 4111
Fax: 86 10 5140 4202
Website: https://china.embassy.gov.au/bjng/home.html
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am to 5:00pm

New Zealand Embassy Offices in China

New Zealand Embassy in Beijing
No.1 Ritan Dongerjie (1 Ritan East 2nd Street)
Chaoyang District
100600 Beijing, PRC 
City: Beijing
Phone: 86 10 8531 2700
Fax: 86 10 6532 4317
Email: beijing.enquiries@mft.net.nz
Website: https://www.mfat.govt.nz/en/countries-and-regions/asia/china/new-zealand-embassy/
Hours: Monday to Friday 8:30am - 12:00pm and 1:00pm - 5:00pm

Embassy Information Outside China

Chinese Embassy in Canada
515 St. Patrick Street,
Ottawa, Ontario, KIN 5H3, Canada
City: Ottawa
Phone: 613-789-3434 / 613-455-0117
Fax: 613-789-1911 / 613-789-1414
Email: ottawacenter@visaforchina.org
Website: http://ca.china-embassy.org/eng/
Normal Hours: Monday to Friday 9:00am - 12:00pm

Detailed visa information can be found on the website of the Chinese Visa Application Service Center: https://www.visaforchina.org/

Chinese Embassy in the United States 
3505 International Place NW
Washington, DC 20008, USA
City:Washington, DC
Phone: 202-495-2266
Fax: 202-495-2138
Email: chinaembpress_us@mfa.gov.cn
Website: http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/  
Normal Hours: Monday to Friday 9:30am - 12:30pm, 1:30pm - 3:00pm

Detailed visa information can be found on the website of the Chinese Visa Application Service Center: https://www.visaforchina.org/

Other East Asia / Southeast Asia Countries:

Cambodia ~ China ~ Hong Kong ~ India ~ Indonesia ~ Japan ~ Korea ~ Kyrgyzstan ~ Laos ~ Malaysia ~ Nepal ~ Taiwan ~ Thailand ~ Vietnam