The Great Wall of China

FAQs - Teach in China

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Application Process

CIEE offers two Teach Abroad programs in China: 

Teach in China “Regular”. This program includes our online TEFL course and connects you with the full range of available locations and placements.

Teach in China “Basics”. If you already have an Education degree or TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification, this is the program for you. It includes all the same placements and support that come with the “Regular” program, just without the included TEFL certification, and it has a lower program fee as a result.

Both programs include personal assistance and support from CIEE staff in the US and in China, and in-country orientation. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, schedule a call and we can advise you further!

Yes! To get a Chinese work visa, you’ll need to prepare two signed original recommendation letters. These actually aren’t important for the CIEE selection process or hiring decisions – they are only required for the visa process. You can submit your application and get a job without letters, but you’ll have to prepare them eventually. You can find more detailed instructions on your CIEE application.

Probably. On your application, you may use a letter from your academic advisor to confirm your anticipated graduation.

The bigger issue is, you can’t start working on your Chinese visa without an authenticated copy of your actual Bachelor’s degree. Visa officers just won’t accept transcripts or verification letters. Check with your school to see if your degree will be handed to you at graduation, or if it gets mailed out weeks afterward. The Chinese visa process is lengthy and inflexible - it takes about 10 weeks from the day you receive your degree to the day you get your visa back. For people who won’t receive their degree until June or July, this means a late arrival in September or maybe even October. Some schools can accommodate a late arrival, so this may be possible but it's not guaranteed.

To participate, you will need a passport that's valid at least six months beyond the END DATE of your desired Teach in China program. If your passport will expire before then, renew it right away! You can still apply to our program while waiting for it to arrive, just enter "000000000" as your passport number on the application, which will signal to us that a renewal is in progress.

Job Placement

No. It’s very difficult to “import” an animal into China, and then repeat the process to come back into the USA. Employers and landlords won’t let you have a pet in your small, high-rise apartment either. You’ll need to find someone back home for your pet to live with while you teach abroad.

We’ll gather your preferences about location, age group, and salary, and then show your application to employers we think are a good match until one requests an interview. We’ll show you a detailed School Profile at that time. If you have questions or concerns about a potential job, make sure to discuss them with us so we understand what you’re looking for.

We work hard to honor requests from our teachers to the extent possible, but we can't guarantee that we'll be able to follow all preferences. We don’t have jobs in every part of China, so be sure to check our program pages to see what locations are available. While you’re there, visit the Job Description section for more information on what types of employers are hiring.

There is HUGE demand for English teachers in China, and that’s good news for you! Some opportunities, like university positions, and private school jobs with the highest salaries, can be fairly competitive and may require prior teaching experience. For all candidates, it's important to smile and show enthusiasm in your application photos and video interviews. That said, there are large numbers of positions overall and we have an excellent track record with successfully placing our teachers. Don’t worry if you don’t have an education degree or much experience – lots of people just like you have landed great jobs in China.

Living and Working

Past teachers describe their housing as small but comfortable. Most teachers will have either a studio apartment to themselves, or a 2BR shared with another teacher of the same gender. Everyone will have a private bedroom! Housing is provided by your employer, so it varies a bit from placement to placement. Schools usually finalize housing just before you arrive in China, so don’t expect photos or details of your exact housing. Have faith that your school will take good care of you; we’ve selected our partners for exactly that reason.

So many answers to this question! On top of the great job benefits, we like… the never-ending flow of superb food… trips to China’s mountains, lakes, and national parks… gleaming high-speed trains… easy access to Asia’s travel destinations… and learning to play cards and Mahjong with retirees in city squares. Plus, you’re learning about one of the world’s most important countries firsthand!

Maybe. This is a bit tricky, since it’s very difficult to set up transfers from a Chinese bank to a US one, and services like Western Union charge a large fee for funds from China. Past teachers have had success linking an international PayPal account to a Chinese bank, and then transferring from there to a US PayPal account, but it takes a long time to set up. If you need to continue making regular payments, make sure you have at least 4 months’ worth of payments saved up before you go. You should also check with your loan servicer and see if it’s possible to pause payments using deferment or forbearance while teaching abroad.

In recent years, it has become easier to find familiar western grocery items like peanut butter, cheese, deodorant, and toothpaste in China. Prices might be a bit higher than you’re used to, but large cities will have options for malls and grocery stores that cater to foreigners. Anything you can’t find there, you can order online through Taobao, the Chinese equivalent of Amazon. 

China's air quality has been steadily improving since 2008. It does still vary depending on the day, and where in China you’re going. CIEE places teachers far away from heavily industrialized cities like Lanzhou and Zhengzhou, where the air quality is the worst. Air quality is often better in the summer, since fuel isn’t being burned for heat.

We asked our former teachers about this issue: 30% said that the air quality in their city made them uncomfortable to some degree. 85% said they had a good experience in spite of it, and only 15% said concerns about air quality would deter them from returning to China.

For most people, the air quality isn’t bad enough to prevent them from signing up to teach in China, but if your top priority is to live somewhere with really clean air, you might consider a different location.

Travel and Arrival

This is a great question, and we actually have a whole handout devoted to this topic! Click here to learn more.

In some ways, getting the "Z" work visa is the hardest part of teaching in China. There’s a long list of documents to prepare, and the sequence of different processes takes at least 2-3 months. Thankfully, CIEE has videos and detailed instructions to guide you step by step. When you have questions, you’ll get helpful, personalized advice from our experienced staff, based in the US and Shanghai. We can't do it for you, but we'll help you every step of the way!

Because the Chinese visa process can be lengthy and unpredictable, we ask participants not to buy flights until their visa approval is confirmed. In most cases, this doesn’t happen until 1-3 weeks before departure, which means you will probably be buying a flight on relatively short notice. For domestic flights in the US, that’s usually a recipe for a costly ticket, but in Asia everyone else is doing the same thing so it’s not quite as bad. And, if you sign up for a 2 semester duration, you’ll receive an airfare reimbursement bonus of at least 8,000 CNY on the successful completion of your contract!

Because of the Chinese visa process, it is not possible to plan other international travel in the two months before your program begins. Plan to be in your home country during that time. 

More Information

For eligibility requirements, compensation, program fees, and more visit our Teach in China Program Pages

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