Q: Do I need a degree?
A: Yes! The China Teaching Experience is restricted to graduates (of any discipline).
Q: Are my preferences guaranteed?
A: No. The China Teaching Experience will do everything in its power to satisfy your preferences. We cannot however guarantee that a given partner institution/education association/company will accept a given application. For this reason, we do not use the word ‘guarantee’. Rather, you can rest assured that we will do our very best to get you what you want, or as close to it as possible.
Q: Is there an age limit?
A: The China Teaching Experience is open to applicants under the age of 60.
Q: Can I apply for a period shorter than 10 months?
A: On the August start, no. The generous conditions of all China 2020 contracts are based on your commitment to a full academic year (10 months). The ‘start any date‘ option however may offer a shorter duration of commitment (on request). There is however no guarantee on this, meaning that you would pay the support fee (and some of the other costs), and THEN find out whether a shorter placement had been secured or not (this is not done purposely, it is just the way things work; we basically need to get your application to a certain point before the schools and organisations are willing to consider you for a contract/negotiate terms of a contract you see. A lot of time and effort [on our part] goes into that). In the event that we were unable to secure you a contract of any less than 10/12 months duration, and as a result you decided to withdraw, you would not receive any refund of any money spent. In actual fact, the majority of our Start Any Date placements are about 12 months in duration! That being said, don’t be shy to request shorter if you wish. We try our best for everybody! To give you an idea of likelihood, there is about a 40% chance of you achieving a contract with a duration of less than 10/12 months.
Q: Are the salaries enough to live off?
A: Absolutely! An average Chinese monthly salary is roughly 3,500 Yuan (£380). The after-tax salaries of our applicants range from around 6500 Yuan (£750) – 16500 Yuan (£1900) monthly. Note also that you are being paid this relatively high salary for just part-time teaching hours, and that your accommodation is provided free of charge. With the majority of placements, so too are most of your utilities (at least up to a reasonable limit). The cost of living in China is substantially lower than the U.K. To appreciate the spending power of your salary, you can generally multiply it by 2 or 3. It is important to note that the cost of living in China actually varies depending on the region. The China Teaching Experience has worked to ensure that the salaries in all placement locations are more than enough for our applicants to live comfortably in that location. You should be able to eat out every night of the week, take taxis, buy clothes, travel etc.
Q: What is the teaching like?
A: Teaching English in China is a wonderfully rewarding experience. From experience, we can tell you that the students are, in general, very attentive, curious, obedient, pleasant, and eager to learn. Your primary role will be to encourage the Oral English development of your students. You will be the main teacher in the classroom. Those teaching younger students will likely have a fluent English-speaking Chinese helper in the classroom with them. This can be great for translating game rules etc, and even just to help keep the kids under control! Those teaching older students will not have such help in the classroom. Generally speaking, the schools are quite flexible on how/what you teach the students. There is usually very little in way of a ‘strict structured syllabus’ (with the exception of the Shanghai full-time placements, as well as a couple of other schools). You are instead often quite free to pick and choose your own topics! Occasionally (at universities in particular) you may be issued with somewhat of a syllabus, and asked to keep relatively close to its content/structure. More times than not however, you will have huge flexibility to build interesting lessons around topics of your own choice! Do not worry about not knowing what to teach! We will point you in the right direction before you begin (lesson planning resources etc), and you will very quickly learn to improvise, and think on your feet! After all, you are no different to our previous applicants!
Q: What are the class sizes?
A: Class sizes vary depending on the level that you teach. You can expect to have anywhere between 15 and 60 students in your classes, most typically around 35.
Q: I have a criminal record. Can I apply?
A: Unfortunately not. Applicants with criminal records will fail the Chinese VISA application process. Those with criminal records are therefore advised not to apply. Applicants are also advised to be very honest about their situation. Pretending that you do not have a criminal record when you do will result in a large waste of money on your behalf, when your VISA papers are ultimately rejected in July.
Q: Can I apply with a friend?
A: Yes! You certainly can. The China Teaching Experience welcomes joint applications and can place all applicants of the party in the same region. If requested, we will even try (and usually succeed) to place the applicants in the same school/accommodation.
Q: I want to apply for a place, but I cannot attend / do not wish to attend the China-based induction camp. Is this possible?
A: Yes, attendance of the camp is optional.
Q: What is the food like?
A: The food in China is really great! It plays a big part in the lives of the Chinese. In the west, we tend to cook one meal, with each person taking one serving of it. In China, they cook lots of different meals, and everybody takes a little bit from each of them. It is more of a communal experience. Many tables actually spin around 360′ so that each person can reach every dish with ease! The food in China is delicious, it is colourful, and it is fresh! You have all kinds of options. You may for example choose to shop at a western-style supermarket, like Carrefour or Walmart. Alternatively, you may opt to pick up your groceries at a local market on a street corner. Take a look at the market video on the ‘pictures and videos’ page to see what one of these markets looks like! Applicants often ask if the food in China is the same as the food here, or if it is entirely different. We can tell you that you will recognise a lot of the food (all the usual fruit and vegetables that we eat here in the UK, chicken breasts, pork, steak, nescafe, pasta etc), and there will be plenty of food that is new to you (squid, rare vegetables, tofu)! The Chinese like to add lots of flavours & spices to their foods. You will discover taste buds that you didn’t know existed! You may choose to eat out all the time (your salary will allow for this), or you may choose to cook at home! The Chinese eat a lot of rice & noodles with everything. You generally don’t even have to ask for either of these in a restaurant, and they will just naturally assume that you want them with whatever else you order!
Q: What is the weather like?
A: Summer is very hot in China. It will certainly hit 40’C and higher during July & August. By about half way through September, the weather will become a lot nicer. You may well find yourself wearing shorts and a t-shirt most of the way through to November! The weather will then take a sudden turn for the worst, and December through to February will be very cold. You can expect to wear a hat and scarf every time you leave the house during this period! If at home during this period, you are quite likely to hibernate next to an electric heater. Alternatively however, you may decide to head for warmer weather in neighbouring Thailand, where your shorts and t-shirts are likely to come back out! After the cold winter, it starts to get quite nice again, and tends to go back to the same type of weather that we saw around October/November time. This takes you up to May/June, where it begins to get fairly warm once again. Occasional heavy rain and thunderstorms tend to keep things exciting throughout the year!
Q: I already have a TEFL qualification. Does that change anything?
A: Not really! Certain TEFL qualifications (not all) are recognised across China. You would be advised to speak with us about the specifics of the TEFL certification that you hold. If your TEFL is recognised in the region that you will be working, you would be able to bi-pass the online TEFL done by the rest of our applicants.
Q: I am a little worried about being completely alone in China, with nobody to talk to! Is this likely to be the case?
A: No! Company Director Andrew has lived out in China himself, and is fully aware of the types of situations that people tend to like, and tend not to like. Applicants are placed in clusters. We have over 100 applicants out in China at any given time, and they’re generally spread across 5 or 6 cities. In addition, it is quite possible that your school/university will have employed another couple of English language teachers through an alternative channel of recruitment. You should also remember that our applicants tend to be placed in or around big cities. The majority of these cities have ex-pat Facebook groups, ex-pat bars & cafes etc, where you will meet foreigners from all over the world (most typically America, Australia, UK, Ireland). Everybody is in exactly the same situation. This means that, generally speaking, people are quite keen to mingle with one another as much as possible! Alternatively, you may choose to avoid western hangouts, to keep your experience very Chinese. It is entirely up to you!
Q: Will I have any VISA problems if I leave China during the year (for example during the January/February holiday)?
A: No. An application to change your initial VISA into a residence permit will be submitted to local government, by your school, during your first month in China – the costs of such are approximately £50, and are often (not always) covered by the school. This effectively allows you to exit and enter the country as much as you like until the end of your contract, without having to worry about VISA issues, additional charges etc.
Q: Do I need to sign a contract?
A: Yes. You will sign a contract with your host school/company/education association before leaving for China. No contract of employment will exist between yourself and The China Teaching Experience Ltd.
Q: At what point can I purchase my flights to China?
A: You will be advised when you are OK to purchase your flights. It will not be before you have obtained your VISA (supporting documentation for which will be sent from your host school/company).
Q: I am a bit of a risk-taker. Do I really need to get travel insurance?
A: We cannot force you to buy travel insurance. We do however STRONGLY ADVISE all applicants to purchase valid travel insurance for the duration of their time in China. You are going to a country very far from home. You may feel invincible, but accidents do happen. It is a very small price to pay for peace of mind. Further information relating to such will be sent to all applicants roughly 1 month before departure for China.
Q: What happens if I get there and decide I really don’t like it. Can I just leave?
A: You are not going to be held against your will in China! You are however likely to suffer financially as a result of an early termination. It is hard to give an exact amount because every contract is different (your contract will typically outline the financial implications of any early termination. It would be something in the region of 1 months salary, plus the flight money, plus potentially another couple of hundred pounds). It is actually quite a rare situation (2-3 applicants each year). And in some cases, the school don’t actually seek any financial compensation at all – it is kind of ‘luck of the draw’. That being said, you certainly wouldn’t want to be ‘planning’ to leave early. Nor would you want to sign up without having done some proper prior research. Moving to China for 10 months is a big deal. It is not something that you should decide to do overnight. A HUGE amount of time, and money goes into every application from every angle. The Chinese will consequently not take kindly to anybody who fails to research it all, arrives in China and decides ‘this is not for me after all’. If, God forbid, something terrible happens back home however (or to you in China), and you have to leave, your school are of course very likely to understand, and the financial implications are likely to reduce (they will however perhaps request ‘proof’ of the situation/incident).
Q: If I am accepted by The China Teaching Experience, am I 100% guaranteed a placement?
A: We cannot guarantee that a school is going to accept you. You can however take comfort in the fact that in our 5-6 years of operation, no past applicant has EVER paid the support fee, and then not been offered a placement. In the EXTREME UNLIKELIHOOD of that ever happening, you would of course be refunded your support fee in full. You would not, by that point, have spent any other money on the application process.
Q: How will I be paid? Will it be into a Chinese bank account? It all sounds very complicated!
A: You will be paid either by cash or into a Chinese bank account. In either case, you would be advised to have a Chinese bank account (so that you can use a local ATM card instead of carrying around large amounts of cash). When you arrive at your host school, either your contact person or a designated student will assist you in opening a bank account. It is all extremely straightforward and you have nothing to worry about.
Q: I am trying to get my head around the costs. What do I have to pay and when do I have to pay it?
A: Here is an outline of the costs and an associated timeline:
Support fee – £449 or £549. Timing varies, depending on a number of factors. Please see the ‘financials’ tab for further detail.
Notarisation & Legalisation (in May/June/July) of 3 documents (degree & criminal record & TEFL) – £350 total – You can do this part of the process as soon as you have the 3 certificates. This date will be different for everyone. Sometimes a letter from University can be used in place of the degree. It is done by post, via an agency called ChinaVisaDirect in London. This money is sometimes refunded by your school at the end of the contract. Sometimes however it is not. If you like you can reject any contract that doesn’t refund them.
Medical (if applicable) – Please see the ‘financials‘ tab, which explains this in more detail. This potential occurs in May/June.
Criminal Record – £25 in May.
Vaccinations – This cost is extremely variable. It really depends what you decide to get and where you decide to get it done (you may also have already had some of the vaccinations for previous travel). Some applicants have reported figures between £0-£50, while others have reported figures between £50-£150. A small number of applicants have even reported figures between £150-£300. There is no ‘standard’ as such, but the average is about £50. You are likely to pay for any vaccinations that you decide to get in July.
Travel Insurance – You will probably end up buying an insurance policy costing around £250-£300 in July/August.
VISA (in July/August) – UK Passports – Usually (90% of applicants) £150. Occasionally (10% of applicants) £280 (it depends whether you do it through our partner VISA agency, another agency of your choice, or directly with the Chinese consulate/embassy, & whether you go for 3 or 4 working-day processing).
Flights (in July/August) – Although flights are refunded to around about £1000 (£850-£1350 depending on specifics of contract), on the condition that you complete your 10 month contract (the refund is slightly less for Shanghai applicants), you do need to pay for these flights upfront (at least a one way flight). Flight prices are MASSIVELY variable. It is consequently very hard to put an exact figure on it, but roughly speaking, you should factor in around £500 for a one-way flight, or £900 for a return. Around 90% of applicants opt to buy just a one-way flight at the end of July/beginning of August, with the plan to buy another one-way flight the following June. Student/Graduate overdrafts or generous family members are likely to come in handy with regard to flight money.
Initial Spending Money – You should bring around £600 to survive the first month or so in China (before your first wage at the end of September).
*Covid-19: There is some potential for extra unadvertised costs due to covid, depending how the situation is at the time. The China 2020 applicants had to do a Covid test before departure (£150-200), flights were a lot more expensive than usual, and they had to do a 2 week hotel quarantine on arrival which cost about 650 pounds. Their schools refunded half or all of it on the last day of quarantine, so they basically used what would have been their initial spending money to pay for the quarantine, and then when they got the money back from their school they used that money as their initial spending money! There is no guarantee that every school will agree to pay for/refund some or all of the quarantine costs, but we will try our best to negotiate with all schools for all applicants. Remember too that you are free to reject any contract that doesn’t give you exactly what you want. So, if quarantine is still a thing by the time you go to China, and you don’t fancy paying for it, why not ask us to place you at a school that refunded the quarantine in full for our China 2020 applicants?
For more information regarding costs please look at our Financials page.