Sunday, April 2, 2017

2017 Chinese government requirements for expat foreigners to teach ESL & TEFL in China do not include TEFL certificate

We get at least 20 emails every day from new TEFL and ESL teachers asking "which TEFL certificate must I have to teach in China?".  The answer is that there no mandatory legal requirement to have a TEFL certificate to teach in China by law. It may be rquired by a large training center chain like English First or Wall Street English. 

However we here at the CFTU have been pressing the Ministry of Education to include a requirement for a 120 hour TEFL certificate - not obtained electronically. That is a TEFL course taught live, face-to-face in a classroom setting where there can be a live teacher-student dialogue and the ability of all students to participate. We are firmly opposed to software-based and online TEFL courses for five reasons, all of which outweigh any "convenience" factor.

1) Roughly 90% of the TEFL scams we see today and over the past 10 years have come from online TEFL programs and recently those that sell DVDs, or just a TEFL certificate without completion of any training at all.  If the TEFL course was taught at a local university, through a registrar's office, the fraud would be eliminated. Recently employees of one UK company was caught selling "answer sheets" for the company's TEFL test for $99 online.

2) TEFL software and Online courses provide no assurances that the trainers supervising the program are certified by any educational body nor standard and could just be a TEFL mill, as most of them are today.

3) Without a classroom dialogue and live critiques by teachers and peers, a TEFL student will not get the same benefit as learning in a classroom setting, and the retention rate of anything they may have learned online will be far less.

4) At present, there are no standards for TEFL training friends. We have recently even found individual recruiting agencies selling their own brands of TEFL courses which is nothing more than a money grab. 

5) In country TEFL courses can be monitored and the certificates would have to be honored and recognized in that country if offered through an accreditted university.

At present 23, companies all claim that their TEFL certificates are recognized world-wide. In fact however, this is not true and some certificates are only recognized in third-world developing countries like Haiti, Ethiopia, Croatia, etc.

Some people assume that the bigger the company that is dumping a lot of money into online advertising is the best place to get a TEFL certificate. As you can see from these complaints, BIG does not equal best.

Although the CFTU does not endorse any company or service, the teachers we talk with are most satisfied with the CELTA TESOL training they recived based on the feedback we are getting. We are now urging 16 universities in China in five provinces to adopt their program locally within China and their response has been positive. In the interim, please be advised that the below are the official requirements for a foreigner to teach English in China.

* At least 22 years of age

* Fluent in the English language - native English speakers preferred

* A verifiable bachelor degree (it will be checked starting on January 1, 2017)

* A certified police certificate proving no criminal record in your homeland

* 2 years of verifiable previous teaching experience

* A valid Z visa in your passport upon day 1 of your employment

Although the Chinese government has implemented a new Expert Work Permit program with three categories of "experts" (A.B, & C), this program currently excludes teachers below the Phd. level. 

So now that you know the facts about the mandatory qualifications and requirements to teach in China, donot let any agent, recruiter, school, or TEFL sales rep, blow smoke up your butt and pressure you to buy anything you don't want or need.

One last word of warning... If you get caught teaching in China with a fake diploma, police certificate, or TEFL certificate, or are caught working without a genuine Z visa (one that matches your employer and invitation letter) you WILL (if caught) be arrested, jailed, fined $2,000, and deported from China as a convicted felon, with a 3-5 year reentry ban - even if you are enrolled in a Chinese university or married to a local Chinese spouse. At present, there is a "Zero Tolerance" enforcement policy in place and you may want to read this here:

If any recruiter, agent, or training center gives you information different than the above. please report them to

Also see if that source is blacklisted at:

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