TEFL Courses in China

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A Guide to Earning TEFL Certification in China

China is the perfect place in Asia to earn a TEFL certificate. The abundance of TEFL courses in China, the varied geography, the vastness of possible teaching jobs, and the massive demand for English language skills, make China one of the best places to start your career teaching English abroad. Imagine putting the largest population of students with a desire to learn English as a second language into one country with a fast growing economy and a traditional reverence for education, and then add a shortage of English teachers. This combination of factors makes the perfect formula for completing TEFL certification in China.


Beijing. Potentially the largest city for TEFL courses in China and in the world, Beijing offers thousands of language schools, thousands more language programs, schools with TEFL faculty, and government and tourism programs. The increasing amount of international business transactions that occur in Beijing has created an even greater demand and need for English language skills in Beijing, than perhaps any other city on Earth.

Shanghai is the epitome of ancient tradition meeting modern China. A modern trading port and a cosmopolitan center of business, fashion, and finance, Shanghai is another major city for TEFL certification in China, and not far behind Beijing in terms of job opportunities and demand for ESL teachers. 

Kunming. This is the capital of the Yunnan province and while not a city by Beijing standards (only 6 million people) Kunming is a regional city with all the amenities and market demands for TEFL certified teachers. Kunming is a student driven city hosting a dozen universities, creating a never ending supply of students eager to learn English as a foreign language.

Hangzhou, Nanjing, Xi’an, and Guilin are other great cities to find teaching jobs and TEFL programs in China. Trade, economics, and the size of the local universities are the determining factors in finding good teaching jobs, and subsequent demand for TEFL certificate programs; in other words, where there are ESL teaching jobs there are usually TEFL certification programs in China.

Courses & Programs

The four week TEFL course is the most common in the world.  Prospective teachers participate in 120 hours of TEFL coursework and teacher observation as well as some student teaching hours through this type of course. Most TEFL courses in China will provide instruction in methodology, practical classroom experience, lesson planning techniques, and utilizing resources, as basic training topics. Many of TEFL certification schools will provide basic Chinese language lessons, books, advising, and job placement assistance in China as part of their TEFL certification. Many TEFL programs in China even guarantee job placement, though this is always dependent upon the teacher and their ability or desire to get hired. TEFL program providers will help you make connections with prospective employers and the rest will be up to you.

Some TEFL certification programs in China will merge course work and teaching placements, which allows teachers to enter the workforce in tandem with their studies; sometimes teachers can even receive a stipend or accommodation in return for their work. Several TEFL programs in China are structured around English language camps. These allow students to get hands on classroom experience working with Chinese students.

Requirements. Minimum requirements to enroll in TEFL courses in China, and anywhere in the world, include a high school diploma and a minimum age of 18. TEFL programs in China are not restricted to native English speakers, but the most attractive and competitive teaching jobs are typically reserved for native speakers. Some TEFL certification schools will require a bachelor’s degree, not because you need one to grasp the material offered in the certificate program but because most available jobs will require you to have a degree.

Salary & Costs

TEFL courses in China range from $500 to $2,000, depending on the course, inclusions, and type of certification. There are many alternative TEFL learn and work programs available in China, which have alternative pricing too. Some of these have nominal costs but include job placement with salary or stipend following certification, for example. Teacher’s don’t easily “get rich” teaching abroad in China, but depending on your qualifications you can earn enough to have a comfortable lifestyle. Housing is almost always included in teaching jobs in China, along with completion bonuses and airfare occasionally when you obtain an extended contract.

Although, ESL teachers with a master’s degree are considered “foreign experts” and can earn more as a TEFL teacher at a university. Foreign experts are often called on to teach every subject outside Chinese history, such as business and/or economics.

While Beijing and Shanghai can be expensive, most locations throughout the country offer a low cost of living for individuals earning TEFL certification in China, which itself is more affordable in China than in Europe, Australia, or North America. 

Accommodations & Visa

Accommodations during TEFL courses in China will vary, but are most typically offered in shared apartments or dormitories. Apartments in the larger cities can run between $500 and $1,500 for a single room, but in rural areas both housing and daily costs can be relatively low. Faculty are often segregated at larger universities into small flats or dorm rooms too.  

TEFL programs in China always advise their students on how to obtain the appropriate visa. Many TEFL and teach abroad programs will help you obtain a Z-Work visa from the beginning, others will require a tourist visa initially and will then assist students in changing over to a work visa once a residency permit has been obtained.

GoAbroad Insider Tips

The Job Market. China for many reasons is the ideal place to get earn TEFL certification abroad, from the culture and food to the history. But the sheer number of teaching jobs in China is truly staggering, so take the opportunity to earn a TEFL certificate in China where the most TEFL jobs are available!

Variety of Location & Position. Teaching jobs in China exist in every corner and nearly every village in the country, but the type of job varies by location greatly. University and English language institute jobs are more prevalent in the larger cities of Beijing and Shanghai. University jobs exist in all the major universities, with nearly 2,000 universities and over 8 million college students studying English, you don’t have to be a mathematician to see the demand for teachers.

Learn a Useful Language. Those who take TEFL courses in China can also study Mandarin while earning their TEFL certificate. China is continuously growing in numbers, economy, and global power, so having some knowledge of the language could be extremely useful during your future teaching career and beyond. 

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