Have you Achieved a TEFL/TESOL qualification and are looking to teach English in China? You might be wondering, how do I go about choosing an EFL teaching job? What type works best? It is important to remember English teaching comes in a variety of forms and styles. Teaching children in school is not the same as teaching adults in a learning centre. So, just how do you decide what is best for you? Here, we take a look at what to anticipate in the different scenarios of China. We hope we can help you make the right decision and choose a path that you can love!
In China, there are ample teaching opportunities at public and international schools all year round. The hiring periods float around August and January, with work commencing a couple of months before the start of the new term.
Choosing an EFL teaching job as a school teacher also comes with many varieties. In some schools you might only be teaching the English, however, in others you may find you have to teach a range of subjects in English, including maths and science. Given China’s huge population, your class sizes could range from anywhere from 20-50 in a school.
Behaviour may vary on the class of school, you may find an international school better in this regard. If you are looking at teaching English on a long term basis, a school is most helpful. It will come with a demanding workload and level of commitment, but the salary is better too, alongside the added gift of paid holidays when school is out!
The criteria of working in a school is strict and may be competitive. You’ll need to get through a tough interview process, you’ll also need to be able to demonstrate your skills in class too. It all depends on the school, but you will need to be well prepared either way.
If you love working with younger children aged 3-6, then Kindergarten’s may prove a good choice for you. Whilst it will certainly be more demanding, you will have more people to help you. Intensive preparation is needed. Again this might result in you teaching multiple subjects. Most importantly, you will need to know how to make your classes fun, attentive and simple. It may involve things such as music, arts and crafts. Classes typically range between 12-30 students. It’s more fun than a school class, but also more demanding and “hands on”.
English training centers are everywhere in China and, due to their softer requirements, are more popular choices from expats. Training centres cover people of all ages, kids and adults alike. The workload is softer, with teachers typically putting in 20-25 hours a week. Classes do not take up a whole day, but span from 40 minutes to 3 hours. Class sizes are typically around 6-20 students.
For content, training centers emphasize the devlopment of phonic, vocabulary, grammar, and oral and written conversational skills. This may be done through a variety of methods, including the use of games, props, music as well as interactive software.
One of the biggest elements of this job to consider beforehand is the scheduling. Unlike school and kindergartens where classes are structured throughout the working week, Monday to Friday, English training centres have a more scattered and less structured schedule which may range from Tuesday to Saturday or Wednesday to Sunday. This can involve a lot more afternoon and evening classes as a well, which can disrupt your weekend.
Also consider that you may find you have to put effort into marketing yourself and your classes in order to obtain a flow of new students. An English training centre is not a school where a students are a given, but it is a private extracurricular activity which people pay for. You are competing with a host of other businesses and firms alike, therefore you need to demonstrate why you classes offer a better service. This may involve performing classes in front of parents, or participating in promotional events and handing out flyers in public. Additionally, this position does not conform to term time, reducing your scope for holidays.
Some employers in China may seek to hire 1 on 1 tutors to teach people of various ages. These lessons would be done at a client’s home or in a public area such as a cafe or library. Again, you may need to find you have to market your skills and profile to “prove” them to clients.
This position nevertheless, is more flexible and negotiable in terms of times. It is also less intimidating as it is one on one, than facing an entire class. This frees you from the stress of disruptive children or from having to compete against multiple sources for attention. In this regard it’s less stressful. On the other hand, you will be constantly having to travel around
Conclusion: Choose carefully
Teaching English as a second language in China is not straightforward or general, but comes in many varieties and forms, all suited to people’s different strengths and weaknesses. When selecting an EFL position to apply for, think carefully about who you are, what you suit and what you might struggle with. Each type of position comes with its own advantages and disadvantages. It is up to you to make the best choice for yourself, as it could have a big impact on how you find the experience!