What barriers are there to non-native English teachers teaching English in China?

I have been teaching English in China for just over 6 years. However, I don't teach English. Very little of my class time is spent on grammar. Punctuation and spelling don't play big either. All of these things can be taught just as well, if not better, by a native Chinese teacher of English. They have studied the grammar books and can explain the technicalities of the language to the students in a way they will understand.

My English language skills have reached a plateau, what can I do to improve further?

Watching TV, working and talking to your friends may not be pushing your language abilities fully. Especially if you are simply watching popular TV. If you want to improve your fitness, you have exercise to the correct level. Fail to do enough and you lose fitness. Likewise for learning English, you have to push yourself beyond your comfort zone to make improvements.

In China, what are the best jobs for native English speakers with teaching experience?

The best teaching jobs in China are at International Schools. These schools teach in English according to the American or British syllabus. They usually require a full teaching qualification equal to what you would require if working in the UK or USA. They do however pay roughly equal to what you would get working in the UK or USA. So this is typically the highest paid teaching job available.

What's it like to be an English teacher in a small Chinese city?

Second and third tier cities in China are far from boring. A city like Wuxi is a nice place to live. It has all the facilities you need and for the occasional western luxury, you can easily travel to a nearby large city to buy a small supply.

In fact, I would say the quality of life in a second tier city can be higher than in a first tier city like Shanghai and Beijing. The cost of living is very much lower. House rents, restaurants and so on will all be much cheaper. You will be able to live it up quite handsomely and probably have money left over for savings.

Is it a good idea to come to China on tourist (L) visa to look for a job teaching English?

It is reasonable to scout the scene before hand. Just be sure that you are one of the nationalities that can go to Hong Kong for a Chinese work (Z) visa. Also be sure that the foreign experts bureau invitation letter is marked with Hong Kong and not your home country. Be aware of the costs of going to Hong Kong and staying there for up to a week. Also be aware that not all nationalities can get their visa processed in Hong Kong, and you may find yourself having to return to your homeland to process the work visa. Don’t trust any school that suggests you can work on you L visa.


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