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Go west young teacher: University teaching jobs in China

Writer(s): 
Tracey-Ann Mayor Beijing University of Aeronautics andAstronautics

 

Teaching English at a university in China can be a good gig: low hours, long holidays, weekends,and more than enough money to survive on. 

You’ll need at least one of the following to get a position: a Bachelor’s degree, a teaching certificate,or one year’s teaching experience. Higher degrees, or all three of the aforementioned, will bring you the possibility of a better salary and a place at one of the best universities in the country. If you’ve a sense of adventure and endless patience, better bring them along too.

The standard package is a teaching schedule of between 12 and 20 hours per week and a monthly salary from 4,000RMB upwards. Most teachers are recruited to teach oral English to students of varying abilities, with varying levels of support from the respective department. In the majority of cases you’ll have a free rein with your classes to implement your own syllabus, your own way.

The usual university year begins in September and runs to the end of June,with two semesters of sixteen weeks each. The long winter holiday is at least a month, often paid, and coincides with the national Spring Festival. You’ll also pick up a week’s break in October and May.

Universities will provide free accommodation, furnished with at least the basics, and sometimes a good deal more: microwaves, DVD players and computers are not unknown. Policies vary as to who pays the utility bills, but gas, water,and electricity are all cheaply priced in China and unlikely to eat far into your salary. What will do the damage are long-distance phone calls, internet pay-by-use connections (each province has its own pricing system),and your air-conditioner.

Additionally you should be getting your return airfare reimbursed for a one-year contract, or one-way for a half-year contract. Again, reimbursement allowances may or may not cover the price of your economy flight;they’re often a fixed amount in RMB—so shop around for a cheap deal. A representative from your university should be there to greet you on your arrival at the airport... though don’t expect them to see you off when you leave.

The university must also help and advise you regarding all the legal requirements for entering China on the correct visa,and provide you with the paperwork to get it. If your university is being reticent in this respect, you should be suspicious.

There are laws on the books limiting foreign teachers to a maximum of five years in the country and four years at any one university. However, universities are able to bend or ignore the rules for favoured teachers.

Sourcing jobs from the web is the norm, from inside or outside of China, with email correspondence and a final phone interview. Twice a year, as the new semesters in September and February loom, the online job boards swarm with vacancies and there are rich pickings to be had. China is a daring, English-obsessed country: full of charm, full of contradictions and full of jobs. Why not take a look?

Useful websites

  • For general informationand jobs: <www.eslcafe.com/>
  • For the latest vacancies: <www.eslteachersboard.com/cgi-bin/China/index.pl>
  • The author’s in-depth guide to the questions you should ask before taking that job in China: <www.lostlaowai.com/blog/2008/06/07/university-esl-jobs-questions-you-should-be-asking/>
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