Teach English Abroad in Xi'an

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A Guide to Teaching Abroad in Xi'an

Xi’an is a city that seamlessly combines history with innovation. As the oldest of the four great ancient capitals of China, Xi’an boasts more architectural and cultural sites than you’ll know what to do with, with sites dating from the Zhou, Qin, Han, and Tang Dynasties. Contrasting these sites are newly built centers for research, including a space exploration program and China’s Department of National Security. English teachers in Xi’an can pull inspiration from both worlds, ultimately making their experiences rich and meaningful for both themselves and their students. Teaching jobs in Xi’an are perfect for new teachers, as you won’t necessarily need a TEFL certification to get hired. 

Teaching Jobs in Xi'an

As it is a mega-city, English teaching jobs in Xi’an abound. Many teachers face the daunting problem of having too many teaching offers to choose from (poor things..NOT!). Teaching jobs in Xi’an range from elementary schools all the way to universities, across public schools, private schools, and English language schools.

Each type of teaching position and academic institution offers a different experience. Private school positions will be mostly a weekend and evening gig versus the traditional weekday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job at a public school. However, most teaching jobs in Xi’an offer the same vacation and relocation benefits, and most schools expect applicants to have a four year degree, at least two years of prior teaching experience, and be at least 20 years old.

As long as your “work unit” or official employer agrees, many teachers add even more income by adding on extra jobs, such as one-on-one tutoring. Tutoring can conducted during free time, often on weekends and in the evenings, to supplement almost any other type of teaching income. Tutoring can be a very lucrative hobby, affording teachers with the opportunity to cultivate deeper relationships with their students (and oftentimes their students’ families), if they end up providing one-on-one lessons to their own students.

In addition to working in local schools and as a private tutor, there are a few international schools located around the city which often seek out teachers especially focused in foreign languages, math, science, and other core subjects. This is as great option if you have a strong background in teaching, but don’t fancy reviewing English grammar structures, or prefer to work with students from a variety of background versus only Chinese students. Teaching in Xi’an at an international school can provide additional benefits potentially not offered at other institutions, such as tax free salaries, lower cost of living, and bigger benefits packages.

Life in Xi'an

Xi’an is city with a high demand for Western teachers, especially English speakers, so there’s a big reason to attract foreign teachers and make them feel comfortable upon arrival. Imagine a well paying teaching job abroad with perks that include enough paid time off to travel, trips back home to U.S., and visa logistics settled before you even arrive; these perks are commonplace among teaching jobs in Xi’an.

Teaching in Xi’an is your chance to immerse yourself in a historical city making real technological strides, while paying off student loans and gaining real life experience, all with little more than a college degree. Those who teach in Xi’an have the opportunity to live in a city with world-renown historical sites, such as the Terracotta Army (a collection of 2,000 clay soldiers in three tombs), Muslim Quarter and Mosque, and the Ancient City Wall. These types of opportunities don’t come up in life very often, so you should grab the opportunity to enjoy life in Xi’an every day.

A normal day for a teacher in Xi’an depends on the school placement and age of their students, and whether you teach in the morning or afternoon. But, outside of the classroom, most teachers’ days will be filled with travelling to students’ homes for independent tutoring or carrying out other lessons or side jobs, making lesson plans, or brainstorming interactive activities. However, at night teachers have the whole city to explore, with bars and nightclubs varying from low key pubs with pool to Shaanxi Grand Opera House. Xi’an will not disappoint.

Salary & Costs

Due to the large demand for teachers, many schools and employers try to make teaching jobs in Xi’an as appealing as possible. Many teaching job offers will include a work visa, paid vacation, a plane ticket home, and an apartment when you sign your contract (meaning you’ll never need to find and rent your own apartment and decipher Chinese rental agreements). On average, first year teachers make about $400 to $600 a month teaching in Xi’an, which can be doubled for teachers who take on side jobs and tutoring opportunities. Many new teachers find that as they become established in the community and make connections, their earnings snowball, making their lives in Xi’an even more comfortable, both financially and socially. 

Although rent is typically included in teaching contracts, some teachers will be expected to pay their monthly utilities, which are usually around $40. With your main costs of living covered by your teaching contract, the only remaining costs you’ll have are social, travel, and transportation. Dinner at a moderately priced restaurant for two averages $15 and transportation for a month around Xi’an with public transit can come in at under $8. On the whole, life in Xi’an is 80 times cheaper than New York City and 70 times cheaper than Chicago.

Accommodation & Visas

Employer and host schools really try to take care of everything for foreign teachers in Xi’an. Therefore, as stated above, most if not all teaching jobs in Xi’an come with an apartment as part of your contract, which may be located in a complex built specifically for foreign teachers with apartment style dorms. Most teachers who choose their own living arrangements end up living alone, but still near to other teachers, making meeting other expats quite easy. If the provided housing isn’t what you’re looking for, housing runs about $350 a month, and finding housing is relatively easy for teachers to do upon arrival. Remember one thing: your host school or employer really want you to love living and teaching in Xi’an, so just ask if you need help with something.  

Most host schools or employers will immediately begin processing your work visa once you provide them with the required documentation, which may include a copy of your TEFL certificate, passport, and proof of your completed degree. If you need to complete the process on your own, you’ll need to fill out all the required paperwork and then make an appointment with a Chinese embassy in your home country. Depending on your teaching placement, many schools will pair teachers with native assistants to help manage paperwork and moving logistics upon arrival.

Check out GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory to locate a Chinese embassy nearest to you.

Benefits & Challenges

Xi’an is a ready made city for teachers. The job market combined with the population growth and the cost of living make it an exciting place to explore. However, something to consider and something that many teachers recommend is committing to at least two years to build contacts and guanxi, or networking potential. The benefits of outside work and extra income come to teachers who have spent time and completed their first contract successfully. Thankfully, Chinese culture stresses obedience and hard work, making most students a joy to teach in Xi’an. 

If you’re looking for a modern place to teach abroad off the beaten path, teaching jobs in Xi’an might just be ideal for you. With a low cost of living and an eagerness to find foreign teachers and keep them happy, the only decision left is what to pack!

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A Guide To
Teaching Abroad in Xi'an


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