Teaching English In China 2023 – 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 is a dream for a lot of people. It’s a chance for a fresh start, to broaden your horizons, and to immerse yourself in an entirely new culture. When COVID hit it threw a massive spanner in the works for those looking to move over there. Plans had to be put on ice.

You could still get into China during the pandemic, but it was a bit of an administrative nightmare. You needed an elusive PU letter – a government-issued invitation letter, only able to be given out by employers who’d been officially authorised to do so by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. That, combined with China’s zero-COVID policy and strict lockdowns, caused a bit of a headache.

Did the lockdown affect interest in teaching English in China?

Obviously it put some people off – it’s daunting enough moving country, never mind during a worldwide pandemic. But those who had their heart set on teaching English in China made it work – we spoke to qualified TEFL teacher Marie-Pier, who had her documents legalised here at Vital Consular. From Canada, she’d just secured a position in Shanghai and wasn’t put off by the lockdown restrictions.

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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 a 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.

Fingers (and toes) crossed, we seem to be over the worst of COVID, now. International travel is possible again and the doors that got slammed shut during the pandemic are starting to open again.

Is now the time to start thinking about teaching English in China?

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Now’s as good a time as any. Although China are still a bit strict with their COVID restrictions, decent recruiters can help you work through that – as long as you’re willing to follow China’s COVID rules you’ll be fine. And, although online learning became massive in the post-COVID world, in-person teaching is still in high demand.

We spoke to Mike, Editor at The Helpful Panda, to see whether he thought it was a good time to make the move.

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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.

If you do have your heart set on teaching English in China but you’ve been putting it off, now might be the time to take the plunge. Why wait?

Tips for teaching English in China

china application form

If you’re planning on teaching English in China, make sure you take your time and look into all your options. It’s a big step and you want to make sure you’ve got a solid plan in place. There are a few things you might want to think about.

You might struggle with flights

Although China has relaxed their restrictions, you might want to bear in mind that it can be quite tricky getting over there at the moment. There are less flights than pre-pandemic, for starters, and the war in Ukraine’s having an effect. Normally the flight to China crosses Russian airspace – but Russia have banned a lot of Western countries from doing so.

You’ve got two choices, really. You could fly to Hong Kong and make your way from there, or you could go with a Chinese airline – they’re still allowed to fly over Russian territory. Just remember that at the moment, flights might be a bit more expensive (and harder to sort out) than usual.

Be wary of scams!

Teaching English in China is a popular career choice for many – and scammers know it. There’re a lot of dodgy companies out there looking to take advantage of eager, inexperienced recruits. The TEFL market isn’t regulated, so it’s easy to get caught out. Make sure you always research any schools or recruiters you consider – and have a read of our blog on ways to spot scams when applying for TEFL jobs in China.

Keep in mind that things will be different

Moving to China can be a bit of a shock to the system – it’s a completely different culture. I’m sure you know that already, but knowing it and experiencing it are two separate things. You might struggle to adapt at first, but our blog on the difficulties of moving overseas can offer you some useful tips and advice.

Three friends with their arms around each other - a girl and two boys, looking out over the landscape for teaching English in China

Don’t underestimate document legalisation

Once you’ve got a job offer under your belt and you’re ready to get started teaching English in China, they’ll give you a list of documents needed for your Z-Visa application. You’ll need to get all of these documents legalised (otherwise known as attested or authenticated) in their country of origin or else they won’t be accepted.

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

Document legalisation can be a massive pain. It’s complicated, it’s fiddly, and if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s really easy to make a mistake. But here at Vital Consular, we can take care of document legalisation for you.

Loads of TEFL course providers already recommend us to legalise their certificates, ‘cos we’re the market specialist in this document type. We make the process a whole lot easier.

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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.

Hopefully this blog’s been useful to you – all the information is up to date at the time of writing (January 2023). If you’re thinking about teaching English in China but you haven’t done a TEFL course yet, we might be able to help you out – take a look at our list of TEFL courses, all of which are guaranteed to be accepted by the FCDO.

Right, I think that’s about it. If there’re any developments that might affect teaching English in China we’ll keep you updated, and if you’ve got any questions don’t hesitate to reach out!

Get in touch today to speak to our friendly team via our live chat system, give us a call on 0330 088 1142 or send us a text message via WhatsApp. Whichever is most convenient for you! Our friendly team of specialists are here to answer all your questions.

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Ashraf Vachhiat
Ashraf Vachhiat

Ashraf is the Marketing Technologist at Vital Consular, which means he handles all the technicalities involved in bringing this blog to life! He also enjoys creating in-depth articles around current affairs which impact the travel and relocation industry. In his free time, Ashraf relishes travelling as much as possible, and is always looking for quirky spots to take some great photos.

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