Trading Places

Judy Heflin assesses the option of teaching English in China while learning Chinese

China has been busy promoting its language and culture worldwide, and President Obama is hoping for a million Americans to learn Mandarin Chinese by the year 2020. But, while we know that learning Chinese is a great investment for the future, few of us have the resources to commit to truly immersing ourselves in the language. One of the best solutions is to teach English in China while gaining experience, traveling abroad, and being immersed in the language and culture. For those who are interested in teaching English in China, it is important to go through reputable programs to ensure a safe and positive experience. Here is a list of trustworthy organizations that have programs for teaching English in China. The requirements for each program vary, but all include competitive salaries, opportunities to travel throughout the country, and Mandarin Chinese language classes.

Teach Away–English First
Teach Away’s ESL teaching organization, English First, offers positions teaching English in both smaller and major cities across China, teaching young and adult learners. There are also opportunities to teach English in online classes and to provide one-on-one tuition. Regular training workshops are provided, as well as opportunities for cultural orientation and Mandarin language classes. English First offers a competitive salary and partial reimbursement of airfares. Suitable candidates will possess a bachelor’s degree and at least two years of relevant teaching experience. A TEFL certification or ESL qualification is highly desirable; however, ESL training is available for applicants with solid teaching experience. All of Teach Away’s recruiters are experienced teachers, and they vet the institutions they work with to ensure they are placing their teachers in reputable jobs, with fair contracts, that will provide them with valuable and inspirational experiences.

InterExchange–Teach and Travel Year China
InterExchange’s Teach and Travel Year China program is a paid English-teaching experience based in the Kunming region. The program also includes excursions to Guandu Ancient Town, Dali, and Shangri-La. The program consists of a one-week orientation in Kunming followed by a five- or ten-month teaching placement at one of various locations in Yunnan Province. Travel excursions and group activities are arranged throughout the program, so participants can absorb as much culture as possible during their stays in China.

CIEE–Teach in China
CIEE’s Teach in China program is ideal for first-time teachers and offers one- or two-semester options. Placements are available in Mandarin-speaking regions all around China, with many schools in urban and suburban areas. One-semester placements are limited, as most schools want to hire a teacher for two consecutive semesters. Participants will work with enthusiastic students from primary school through university, creating opportunities to share cultural awareness and language skills in a rewarding, enjoyable environment. As highly valued foreign teachers, participants will promote an exchange of cultures teaching English while learning Mandarin. To participate, one needs to be a native English speaker; have a bachelor’s degree in any field; be a citizen of the U.S., Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or the UK; and be under 60 years old.

Beijing Teach
Beijing Teach is an American-based, full-service English teacher recruiter. They provide teachers with great teaching jobs throughout Beijing and assist before and after program participants’ arrival in China. The majority of Beijing Teach’s teachers are placed in Chinese kindergartens and English training centers, but placement in high schools and universities is available if preferred. To qualify for a teaching position with Beijing Teach, you must be energetic and patient and love working with children. They prefer candidates who possess a bachelor’s degree or have considerable teaching experience, but are open to other interested applicants. The Beijing Teach program offers a competitive salary, round-trip airfare reimbursement, free housing accommodation, and free Chinese language lessons. Contracts are available for durations of six, ten, or twelve months.

Reach to Teach
Reach to Teach currently works with many reputable schools offering ESL jobs teaching English in China. Requirements include a bachelor’s degree, a TEFL certificate, and some teaching experience. Reach to Teach is affiliated with carefully screened schools all across China, and applicants work closely with program coordinators to decide which city is best for them. The programs include a competitive salary, airport pickup, free housing, assistance with work visas, health insurance coverage, and additional stipends depending on location. A participant’s salary as an English teacher in China will be enough to live a comfortable lifestyle and save for trips around China and to other countries in Asia.

Language Corps
LanguageCorps’ TeachChina Program begins with an intensive TESOL training and certification phase. The four-week TESOL training program takes place in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and includes two weekend excursions. Program members will also have a chance to meet participants in the other Asian programs, extending their Language­Corps networks and making great contacts for future travel or vacations while they teach English in China. At the end of the four-week certification phase, they will travel to their destination cities to begin their positions teaching English at affiliated schools in China. The TeachChina Program works hard to place individuals in a position to teach English in China with good pay and benefits. To ensure the safety and legality of teaching English in China, LanguageCorps only places participants at schools that conform to local laws and provide work visas to teach in China. There may be a short period of time between the end of training and the beginning of a contract to teach English in China. Most people view this as a perfect opportunity to fit in a little travel before the job starts.

Participants spend five months living and teaching English in one of the cultural capitals of the world, where they explore China’s seemingly endless breathtaking landscapes and historical sites, visit bustling cities and remote villages, sample delicious foods and hone their English-teaching skills in the local community with the program’s reputable in-country partners ImmerQi. Teachers earn a generous monthly living allowance to provide a comfortable standard of living. The program includes 140 hours of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) training as well as opportunities for Mandarin language learning and travel across the country.