Teaching English In China – Time To Stop Yearning And Make The Move

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most global relocation was on hold for almost 2 years. New restrictions on movement were put in place, more paperwork was required, things were tough. Are things finally starting to return to some semblance of normal in one of the most popular TEFL destinations in the world?

Teaching English in China was a dream put on ice for many during the Coronavirus pandemic, as some of the toughest travel sanctions were imposed by China as they aimed to contain the outbreak as quickly as possible. International borders closed down instantly and even domestic travel was tightly controlled to prevent localised spreading.

Was it still possible to get into China during the pandemic?

To gain entry into China once some travel was permitted, it was decided you needed to obtain a government-issued invitation letter, known as a PU letter, which were to be issued by employers who had been officially authorised to do so by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This had been a requirement years earlier, but had been scrapped to make it easier for businesses and recruiters to fill positions with overseas workers.

We spoke to Mike, Editor at The Helpful Panda to see what he felt had been the biggest obstacle for those looking to go and teach in China during the pandemic.

mike
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Contribution by Mike Cairnduff

China has had very strict entry requirements for foreigners since COVID-19 began, and it’s been almost impossible to get a work visa. This is because China has been pursuing a zero-Covid policy. Allowing people to come from overseas would make this goal much harder for them. In addition, numerous countries have strongly advised against their citizens from going abroad until recently, making working in China an impossibility for most people.

During the lockdown, teaching went online in China. Those ESL teachers already based there worked from home and those who otherwise would have made the trip turned to online teaching providers to start their experience from across the world. There was a huge recruitment drive and it seemed to help bridge the learning gap whilst students weren’t able to experience in-person learning.

Will the long lockdown affect interest in teaching English in China?

The long wait to relocate to China didn’t put those off who had their heart set on the destination. I spoke to a qualified TEFL teacher from Canada who is currently having her documents legalised by us here at Vital Consular. Marie-Pier has secured a position in Shanghai and isn’t put off by the fact that full restrictions still aren’t fully lifted.

marie
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Contribution by Marie-Pier Carrier

My friend told me about the teaching program about three years ago. I have teaching experience here in Canada but I didn’t get the TEFL qualification. I did a lot of research about ESL and it was a good reason to increase my possibilities by going overseas. I’m a traveller, so this was the perfect opportunity to try something new. I didn’t have second option, I was focused only on China. China is beautiful and I believe it’s a good opportunity to work there as a teacher.

China is such a popular destination for expats looking to experience the life of an ESL teacher, many have been prepared to wait for the borders to open. Other destinations have been accepting foreign workers for a while, but the draw of life in China has kept potential applicants faithful to their first choice.

Will in-person teaching still have a place after the online workaround?

In many sectors across the world, online learning and working has become the norm. Many job roles now offer hybrid working as part of their standard operations and it’s been shown that productivity can even increase! Though we were forced into carving out new ways of surviving when we couldn’t physically attend our places of work, on the positive side it’s allowed us to stretch what we’re capable of and given rise to progressive and more flexible ways of collaborating.

Does this then mean that in-person in a thing of the past? Is there anything to be said for in-person teaching when it comes to the demand for ESL teachers in the popular destinations of China, Vietnam, Thailand and even South Korea?

mike
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Contribution by Mike Cairnduff

The demand is still there. While online teaching has its place, physically being in the classroom is just as important as it was before. Schools in China pride themselves on the quality of their teachers, and having foreign teachers is very much a drawcard for eager students wanting to learn English face to face. As it was prior to COVID-19, I think the demand for foreign teachers will outstrip supply once China opens up again. The challenge will be how schools attract and retain foreign talent, particularly if certain quarantine and lockdown requirements remain for a while.

So it looks like there will still absolutely be a place for learning in physical classrooms, at least in China, there they place a lot of emphasis on in-person interaction. This is great news for recruiters and will also mean that those looking to teach there won’t have too much trouble finding a position. Because when it comes to teaching ESL overseas, it’s not all about work. Most people choose to pursue an adventure in this sector to experience travelling and life in a new and exciting country; that’s something you can’t experience online!

Is now the time to start thinking about job hunting?

china document legalisation

Although the big announcement has been made that PU Letters are due to be scrapped, the actual practicalities of this haven’t yet reached all of the Chinese Embassies globally. Here in the UK, it’s still a requirement to supply a PU Letter when applying for a Z-Visa for China.

As with most bureaucratic procedures, things can take a little while to filter through. This makes it difficult for those looking to relocate to know when to make the first steps. Documents need to be legalised before they can be used for a Z-Visa application and this only remains valid for 6 months. You’ll need to provide a police clearance from your country of residence, which has the same expiration period as the legalisation.

So is it safe to start applying for jobs at this time? Recruiters are certainly confident as they have resumed their hiring campaigns full-force.

mike
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Contribution by Mike Cairnduff

Now is the time to start looking at all the options available to you to work in China. Whether it’s working for a school, doing an internship, or working in a Chinese company, there are plenty of avenues to explore. Partner with a reputable recruiter unless you’re confident you can navigate the Chinese employment system on your own. Various quarantine arrangements are still in place in China, so have a plan in place for when you’re ready to go. China is an amazing country to travel, live or work in because it’s so different to the West. Almost everyone I know who has worked in China in the past has said it’s the best thing they have ever done in their life.

Although quarantine measures are still required once you land in China, any good recruiter should help you with this process and organising your place to stay during your quarantine period. It’s hopeful that there won’t be any further national lockdowns, though it’s possible that some localised ones may be implemented if small outbreaks occur. The Chinese Authorities have always been quick to contain these.

If you do plan to move to China now things are pretty much open for business, what would happen if you did find yourself in another lockdown situation? It’s always worth bearing in mind for the foreseeable and confirming plans with your employer as to what the procedure would be in these cases. It’s probable that things would revert to online learning as needed.

Despite this possibility, it’s still not deterring those who desperately want to relocate and are currently in the process of preparing their documents ready for the move.

marie
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Contribution by Marie-Pier Carrier

In February, I applied to schools who could issue a PU Letter in case I needed it to enter in China just to increase my chances. I knew this plan was a little bit tricky, but the school was very optimistic about it. That’s why I decided to go forward with them. As you may know, there are a lot of papers to provide, so I just prepared them like I didn’t care about the lockdowns. I was optimistic that the further lockdown wouldn’t last forever and I would be able to go on with the process. When I’m there, if there is another lockdown, I will teach online. I’m not worried about it. My plans can change any time, but I’m ready for that.

How do I start applying for jobs teaching English in China?

china application form

If you’ve decided to make the move, great! You’ll first need to secure a job offer with a recruiter or school directly, if you prefer. Once you have that confirmed, they’ll provide you with a list of documents you’ll need for your Z-Visa application. They’ll need to be legalised (also known as attested or authenticated) in their country of issue, otherwise they won’t be accepted at the Chinese Visa Centre.

Vital Consular can take care of all your document legalisation procedures for you, which will save you a lot of time and money, as well as the possibility of getting it wrong and end up being delayed in getting on that plane. And with all of the guidelines and requirements for China, it is easy to get things wrong!

Many TEFL course providers already recommend Vital to legalise their course certificates, as we’re the market specialist in this document type. We make the process a whole lot easier.

marie
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Contribution by Marie-Pier Carrier

My TEFL provider gave me your contact details and someone from Vital Consular answered me quickly and explained the procedure. It was very simple for me. When companies are affiliated, it increases the level of trust. This is perfect for everyone, especially for someone abroad like me. The communication between the School, Vital Consular and I was efficient. Everything was clear, every question answered. I didn’t have to worry about anything.

What we will say is, if you’re planning on making the move to China, don’t leave things until the last minute. Previously during lockdowns we’ve experienced huge backlogs at the various offices which need to process the documents, due to the influx of people applying as soon as restrictions are lifted. Appointments at the Chinese Visa Centre were vanishing as soon as they were released, so don’t get caught out waiting months between stages!

If you still need help, just get in touch. You can give us a call directly on +44 (0) 330 088 1142, send us a message via WhatsApp on mobile, use our live chat system, or e-mail us at sales@vitalconsular.com. Whichever is most convenient for you! Our friendly team of specialists are here to answer all your questions.

Melanie Clarke
Melanie Clarke

Melanie is a Digital Marketer and TEFL Specialist at Vital Consular. Before taking up a Marketing role, she spent 3 years building up a rich knowledge of global legalisation processes on the operations team. When she's not working, Melanie enjoys attending music events and pursuing many creative interests including screen printing and merchandise design.

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