Sunday, August 24, 2014

Current Official Foreign Expat Teacher Requirements To Teach ESL - TEFL In China - What Certification Do You Really Need?

There seems to be too much misinformation floating around as to what is really required to teach ESL or TEFL in China at present. For instance, we have found over 20,000 posts online at various ESL & TEFL & TESOL forums and message boards insisting that you "MUST" have a TEFL or TESOL certificate to teach in China. This is simply a false statement, but the repetition of this statement all over the internet and echoed by the many recruiters who are sales agents for the TEFL & TESOL training companies, makes it believable. One Chinese user at Yahoo "Answers" named "May" put up over 9,000 posts in the last three years spreading this lie. Considering that she probably earns a $100 commission for everyone she enrolls into a TEFL or TESOL Training program, May must be pretty wealthy by now.  But "May" is not alone, there are literally hundreds people just like May working for 19 different TEFL and TESOL training companies that use the same lie to enhance their sales.

So for the record, according to SAFEA (the official Chinese government agency that regulates the employment of foreign workers in China) below are the ONLY official requirements to teach in China:

1)  A bachelor degree from an accredited university
2)  A minimum of 2 years previous work experience
3)  Minimum 21 years of age
4)  A police certificate confirming no criminal record
5)  A valid passport and a work visa (Z visa)

Additionally the schools and universities will insist on their own requirement of "English Fluency". Until July of 2013, these above requirements were not strictly enforced and thousands of teachers circumvented the requirements by entering China to work on a tourist, business, or student visa. Today in 2014 however, enforcement has gone from one extreme (lax) to the other (very strict) and there is zero tolerance. Recently, over 1,600 foreigners were arrested, fined an average of $2,000 and expelled from China, with a 3-5 reentry ban, even though some of them are actually married to Chinese nationals.  See:

Now the TEFL/TESOL sellers are also using other lies to sell their certification programs that include the following - all of which are FALSE STATEMENTS:

* Most all the schools in China will not hire you if you do not have a TESOL or TEFL certificate. (In truth of the 19,239 schools/learning centers in China that hire foreign teachers, only 393 of them require TEFL or TESOL certificates, and 278 of these schools require thatyou buy training programs that they themselves sell!)

* If you do not have a TESOL or TEFL certificate you will only get the crappy jobs that pay less tha 10,000 yuan per month. (In truth 98% of the schools that hire in China do not even ask if you have a TESOL or TEFL certificate).

* There is a new law starting next month that will require every foreign teacher to have a TEFL or TESOL certificate. (a clever fabrication)

*  If you do not have the 2 years working experience, a TEFL or TESOL certificate is a substitute for that requirement. (A blatant lie) 

* If you do not not have a degree in Education the schools require that you have a TESOL or TEFL certificate. (Although this sounds logical it is also a lie) 

* You will earn a much higher salary in China if you have a TEFL or TESOL certificate. (We actually did a survey on this issue in 2013 and found that the only teachers who make more money than others are those holding a degree in Education, ESL, or are AP certified)

You simply do not need to have any TEFL or TESOL certificate to teach in China as any "REQUIREMENT".

Now then, have cleared the air on the " China teacher requirement" issues, we will say that taking a TEFL or TESOL training program is a good idea if you have never taught English before. About half of the expat teachers now working in China are not really qualified to teach from the perspective of experience and academic credentials. These are the teachers that would clearly benefit form a TEFL or TESOL program. 

But in this regard, there are only two such training programs whose certificates are recognized and accepted around the world (the Cambridge CELTA and The TESOL Institute program).  Most all the other programs issue you certificates that are only recognized and accepted in very small and poor countries like Haiti, Guatemala, Somalia, etc.) And online programs are not going to make you a better teacher in 120 hours no matter how diligent your efforts are. If you choose to take TEFL or TESOL training, we urge you to do so in a live classroom environment where you can actual role-play and interact with real students or instructors.

UPDATE:  On Septmber 16, 2014 the China Daily made a very vague announcement saying that the city of Beijing "MAY" start requiring kindergarten teachers to have a TEFL or TESOL certificate, and want all other teachers to have "five years of previous experience".  As of yet there is no such law and if and when such a law become reality we will advise everyone and here and through our monthly newsletter.

Here They Are!

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  1. Did you know... 17 new scam artists were added to our CFTU blacklist over the last 90 days. Do you know these people? See:

  2. Where ? Please tell me where are the decent places that pay more than 10000¥. Out of Beijing, Shanghai And Shenzhen, where? Where do you come out with these numbers? Changsha 6-8000, Guangzhou up to 10000¥ international schools pay you better but just as in your native country

  3. How can I get more pay to teach?

  4. Hi, I like your web site, keep up the good work.
    Just one question - any chance of an update? This was posted in August 2014.
    And I am a newby recruiter!
    David -

  5. what is you have a past criminal record , did time in prison but now out and wanting to go to china and teach english

    1. Robert.Depending upon where you are from, you might have a hard time getting a passport from your own country with a criminal record. You will be asked about your criminal record as part of your Chinese visa application and ( usually) as part of your employment offer. Some people have chosen to indicate that they have no criminal record and have gotten away with getting an L-visa. International schools will be much more particular about a current CRC and most likely if you have committed an offence punishable by imprisonment, you most likely will have a difficult time with all the above. Remember, to teach English, English should also be your first language and some employers will pay attention to your age, sex/sexual preference, accent, skin colour, appearance etc. as they see fit.

    2. You can teach....just make sure you reside in another country for about a year...get an official residency through that country, police check through that country, because it is your "residence" and China will be accepting of that and do it that way....long route I know, OR get established with drivers license in state you did not commit crime and get a state background check only from that "New" established state...this will circumvent almost 90 + percent of any issues and you could even finagle your way into Vietnam, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia with the first way because you are legally a resident of this "other" country.......and you could build up a respectable career. Everyone should be given a second chance, but in reality, if you have a record...any record.....your life is over from a highly paid employee standpoint....maybe not the entreprenurial side...but do you have a little money to spend in another country why you wait it out....that's the question....Then, with the first method you never have to worry about "FBI" record check. Seriously! There are ways around things....don't give up.....people shouldnt be punished for life for getting in trouble a long time ago.

  6. Second language is an important aspect for any person to improve job career significantly.

    improve TOEFL scores

  7. I have a 3 year national diploma-busy with additional subjects to get my PGCE-and honors degree-will equate to BE-ED (4 yrs)Have 2 years tutoring experience.However I have thoughtof doing my sponsored TESOL course in Harbin.The snag-For 6 months they offer 5500 Yuan?Any suggestions?Must I first wait and complete my honors and PGCE?Considering I am 48 years old and this is my final career change.


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