As China evolves and opens up, teaching English in China is becoming increasingly popular as a way of earning money on the road, or even for the longer term by living in China for a while.
As is the case in many countries, English teaching jobs in China aren't too difficult to come by - yet they're not easy, either.
Chinese authorities appreciate certificates, so if you have your TESOL or other certification, you'll get a better job than without one. But it's not absolutely essential.
There are two main ways: either show up where English is taught, or find a job on the Internet.
The easiest place to find a job is in an English language school. They're popping up everywhere, even in the country's remotest corners. But beware: not all employers are created equal.
Make sure you're dealing with a reputable company. There are plenty of 'fly by night' schools in China. For example, companies themselves may be unregistered and just keeping their heads below the line so they won't be caught. They may give you a job teaching English in China, but you won't necessarily have the right papers, which could spell trouble.
Some schools pay your airfare but if they're not reputable, they could find a reason to let you go just before the end of your contract - and no ticket home, so good research is essential.
One long-time teacher of English in China said the Internet is the way to go. "Sure you can show up, but you won't know what you're getting into."
One of the most comprehensive resources on the web is the China job board at Dave's ESL Cafe, but you'll find plenty of other sites for teaching English in China.
If you'd rather work for a university - they pay well and are all above board - just choose your province and look for a university website. Type in the city or province name plus the word university, and you'll get plenty of listings. Most have either a contact form or an email address. Just write to them and ask for a job - you'd be surprised how many people have found jobs teaching English in China this way!
And if you don't know where you want to teach, this list of Chinese universities should help you narrow your choices. At university you can expect to teach 16-18 hours a week, which leaves you plenty of time for private lessons.
Finally, you could simply find other backpackers and ask them - they're probably there for the same reason you are!
The money isn't bad if all you want to do is make a decent wage and live normally. If you're looking for major wages, you'll have to head for the Middle East - or at least Japan or South Korean.
If you decide to teach English in China you can expect to earn around 5000 RMB a month, plus accommodation. If you're in Shanghai or Beijing, make that 6500 RMB. Conversely, if you're in Yunan - where English-speaking backpackers are a dime a dozen - you'll be lucky to make 3500 RMB a month.
As is the case in any country, you'll want to be - or at least try to be - legal, and that means getting a visa. China has three types of visa:
Here are a few more useful facts for those who plan to teach English in China:
Bottom line is this assessment from Rik: "People are incredibly friendly, there's plenty of buzz, and you can live like royalty if you choose to. Life is good there and I have some very good friends who I really miss. I just want to get back!"
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