Beijing at a Glance
Teaching English in Beijing
At the moment, there are almost 70 establishments of higher education in Beijing. The most important ones are the highly competitive Tsinghua University and the renowned Peking University. The latter alone attracts several thousand international students a year.
The growing demand for higher education and China’s rising status as a global power lead to ever more Chinese students wanting to improve their foreign language skills. This is the perfect opportunity for many foreigners to spend a couple of years teaching English as a foreign language in China.
However, the competition for such teaching positions in Beijing is huge. Normally, the SAFEA regulations for granting you foreign expert status for a TEFL job require you to be a native speaker with a bachelor’s degree and two years of work experience.
For TEFL positions in smaller provincial schools, the local administration might even waive one or two of these requirements in some cases in order to fill their vacancies. In Beijing, though, the TEFL job market works quite differently.
Teaching English at a Chinese university or through a joint Chinese-Western program sounds like the ideal job for an aspiring EFL teacher. Due to the high standards in academia, however, such vacancies mainly go to candidates with advanced degrees or careers in TEFL.
Being assistant to the Chinese English teacher at a public school in Beijing, on the other hand, may be more suitable for globe-trotting graduates and well-to-do, footloose expats close to their retirement years. Actually, a TEFL job at a public school may be vastly preferable to teaching at one of Beijing’s private institutions. To put it bluntly, at the latter, there will always be some “dumb rich kids” among the students disrupting the classroom environment: the bane of private schools around the world.
Tips for EFL Teachers in Beijing
Many EFL teachers are hired by one of Beijing’s many private language schools. They cover a vast segment of the market, but some of them regularly turn out to exploit or scam their employees. To avoid these bad eggs, you should approach your choice of employer with caution.
- Only agree to come to China on a Z visa, no matter what anyone might tell you.
- Demand references from your potential employer and follow up on them.
- Don’t work for any Beijing-based school that doesn’t stick to SAFEA’s minimum requirements.
- Avoid recruitment agencies, especially if their job offer sounds too good to be true. It usually is. ChinaJob.com is the only recruiter officially recommend by SAFEA.
- Negotiate your employment conditions. A good contract for a TEFL job in Beijing should include return airfare, accommodation, and paid holidays.
- Demand to see a picture of the teachers’ accommodation first.
With these basic guidelines in mind, you should already be able to recognize most potentially shady deals and truly enjoy teaching English in Beijing.