One of the largest and most influential cities in the world, Shanghai offers foreign educators a deeply enriching cultural environment in which to gain TEFL qualifications. The Chinese education system is making a huge push to improve the English speaking ability of its citizens, meaning there are a large number of available teaching jobs for ESL teachers to take advantage of throughout the city. Whether your goal is to become a teacher or you simply want to embark on an adventure in one of the world’s most important emerging cities, joining a TEFL program in Shanghai will be a tremendous life experience.
TEFL Programs in Shanghai
Since China is in continuous demand for native English speaking educators, not all teaching jobs in require foreigners to be TEFL certified. However, if you want access to the best employment opportunities with the best pay and benefits, then enrolling in a TEFL program in Shanghai before looking for a English teaching job is definitely the way to go.
You can complete your TEFL qualification in Shanghai through classroom style TEFL courses. Though online courses may be the most convenient way to earn TEFL certification, there is no real substitute for in person educational experiences. Completing a TEFL program in Shanghai will give you the additional benefit of having a month-long orientation period, to life in the city, before jumping in front of a class.
Topics covered during your TEFL certification courses in Shanghai will include such aspects of ESL learning as grammar, phonetics, teaching methodology, classroom management strategies, and much more. Most TEFL programs in Shanghai will also include the opportunity to gain real teaching practice in front of students, which can prove tremendously valuable for new teachers.
Upon completion of the TEFL qualification in Shanghai, your program provider will likely help you find an ESL teaching job in Shanghai (many TEFL programs in Shanghai even include lifetime job assistance). It is possible to find work teaching English in Shanghai at any level in public and private schools, international schools, in business settings, and through a variety of other mediums. There are 24 million people in the city, so the demand for English teachers is quite large!
Life in Shanghai
Shanghai rose to prominence in the 19th century when China opened its borders to trade with the West, and has since developed into a global business and financial capital with the busiest container port in the world. From ancient gardens and temples to a highly modern skyline towering above the East China Sea, Shanghai is a fascinating synthesis of the old and new China and an extremely rewarding city to live in.
Moving to Shanghai will prove quite an adjustment for many English speaking teachers coming from Western nations. The sheer number of people can make the city feel overwhelming at times as the streets are constantly bustling with noise and activity. Traffic can be very chaotic, but the Shanghai Metro is one of the best in all of China and connects to most major urban and suburban districts, so you will never have a problem getting around town.
The language barrier can prove another formidable component to living in Shanghai, but with patience and understanding you will find that communication is usually possible even when the other party is not familiar with the English language. Many signs are written in both Mandarin and English so that it is easy to find your way around as well.
While you are earning your TEFL certification in Shanghai don’t hesitate to make the effort to learn Mandarin as well! The world’s most common native language (English) is becoming increasingly useful as China develops into a global leader on many fronts, but expanding your language skills can never hurt.
Salary & Costs
Pay is good and living is cheap for English teachers in Shanghai. While it is indeed one of China’s more expensive cities, most costs of living in Shanghai remain significantly lower than in the Western world (metro rides are less than a dollar and you can eat a meal out for only a few dollars too). Teaching jobs in Shanghai pay upwards of $1,000 to $2,000 per month depending on the position type and amount of hours you work, allowing most teachers to save up a decent amount of money while teaching English in Shanghai. Many employers will compensate you by other means too, which can include housing, flights, some meals, and paid vacation time.
Accommodation & Visas
Many TEFL program providers will help you to secure housing during your courses in Shanghai. While Shanghai is a modern city in many respects and you will be made comfortable in your accommodations, remember that China is a developing country and that certain Western luxuries will not always be available. Don’t panic though - it is very likely that you will find the simplicity of life refreshing!
You will need a visa to teach English in China, so communicate with your TEFL program provider in Shanghai about the best way to go about obtaining the proper documentation once it is time for you to begin your first TEFL job. While a closed government, China is fairly good about granting visas to visitors from Western countries. You can check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory for more information about the Chinese visa policy toward your home nation.
Benefits & Challenges
Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Shanghai has the potential to be the greatest adventure of your lifetime. Shanghai is a city that can offer you a unique immersive experience in the modern face of China, while not leaving behind the civilization’s ancient roots entirely. Adapting to life in Shanghai will be challenging, but you will find every day increasingly rewarding as you come to understand and appreciate an entirely new manifestation of urban life in the far East. Plus the food is unbeatable!