With a schooling revolution at the forefront of China’s development, our teachers have the chance to leave their stamp on the next generation while growing alongside their students. The role of an English teacher is to bring the language to life through interactive classes and act as a cultural ambassador.
Over the course of a year, our teachers gain self-confidence, Mandarin skills, an understanding of contemporary China, while having invaluable networking opportunities and free time for personal development and travel during holidays.
Each teaching experience at each institution is of course wholly unique. At universities, you can expect anything from classes of eight to eighty students, from First Years to Masters. At middle schools, your classes could range from ten to over forty, depending on the ages and the institution. Chinese middle schools roughly correspond to American/British high schools, encompassing ages 11-18. At primary schools, you would expect to teach classes of around thirty, aged 4-11. You can specify to us which form of teaching most appeals to you, and although you can’t be wholly guaranteed your preference, we will ask our Chinese partners to take it into account when placing you in a post.
In complete contrast to their Chinese teaching colleagues, foreign teachers don’t always have to follow a textbook rigidly or teach vocabulary to a class of parrots. You may be given a book as a guide which you can turn to if you’re stuck, but one of the joys of being a foreign teacher is having to be creative and think on your feet. You might get a good deal of freedom in terms of subject matter. Most classes will be conversational in nature, with blackboard or powerpoint as tools or prompts, and you’ll certainly be welcomed to use your own props, teaching tools, or anything else you can think of. The main reason for this approach is to combat the widespread ‘mute English’ (哑巴英语) syndrome of the young Chinese – fairly proficient at listening, reading and writing, but completely unable to hold a real-life conversation.
To this end, one of the main reasons Chinese schools are now so eager for foreign teachers is to provide an ‘immersion’ experience, so any medium by which students can soak up the language is acceptable. What’s more, the task of lesson planning itself has surely never been easier, as many teachers turn routinely to the fountain of knowledge that is the internet and compile impressive lessons in a short space of time. More and more Chinese classrooms have multimedia facilities, so some teachers make handy use of videos and internet streaming as a treat to reinforce lesson themes.
That said, putting together what is basically your own tailor-made curriculum is not something to be sniffed at. It is both a stimulating experience, in putting together your own crash-course on Western life, and one that will sound impressive to future employers in any field.
For more about lesson plans and classroom experiences, check out some of our previous teachers’ stories
With several years of cooperation, schools are acutely aware of our ethos and our high standards, which makes for a mutually beneficial experience year on year. Our many partner schools include:
Participants agree year after year: attending our Orientation events is a surefire way to ensure you land on your feet in this new country. Conducted by our representatives and former participants, it is a chance to make new friends, learn about life in China, and gain insights into the placement that lies ahead.
The Orientation Week for the teaching program is the main event every year, taking place out in China at the end of August. This is a chance for all new teachers to meet each other, experience China together for the first time, give practice classes, and – most importantly – gain a TEFL qualification.
The 7-day event consists of:
All for the fee of 2500yuan.
– “7 reasons to teach abroad before you die…”
– a major resource for teaching ideas and teaching information.
– invaluable lesson plans for university students and adults, based on current affairs.
– an informative blog regarding life in China as an English teacher.
– Inspirational Irishman with tips on how anyone can become fluent in Chinese (or any other language)
– China travel info
– good resources site written by a foreign teacher in Japan.
– Visa application information
– website for the Chinese Embassy in the UK
– quite simply the best tool for learning Chinese, at any level.
– discussion forum about all aspects of living in China.
– Travel advice from the Foreign Office
The first thing is to send a CV & Cover Letter to us for consideration, after which you may be invited to a Skype or telephone interview. Then, when your place is confirmed, we advise new teachers to send their supporting documents so the placement school can start processing the employment. The bureaucratic process on the Chinese side will then take a few weeks, after which the school can send an invitation letter in the mail. It is with this letter that you can apply for a working visa in your home country. The length of the whole process varies depending on when exactly you submit your application.
You can make an application at any time. Chinese semesters start in September and in February, but in some circumstances some positions may become available at other points in the year, or midway through each semester. The normal deadline for September positions is 30th June.
Salaries vary depending on location. Our entry-level teaching positions in Hunan Province start at 4000yuan per month. This translates to around £400, but that tells only half the story. Teachers in Hunan province often spend the equivalent of £1 a day for all meals. It is no surprise therefore that many come to July having accumulated a healthy amount of savings despite having lived a very comfy life while in China.
Additionally, the exchange rate improves year after year, which translates well for foreigners working in China: just a few years ago it was 15yuan to £1, now it’s dropped to around 10yuan (check out xe.com for changes in rates). This may be set for an even bigger jump if China revalues its currency.
For all participants of the main teaching program, return flights to China will be reimbursed by your school in one of two ways: either in two installments, (halfway through the contract and at the end) or added on top of your salary each month, up to 6000yuan in total. This is of course dependent on completion of contract. For the short-term summer program, schools are unable to reimburse flights.
Unlike our competitors and all gap-year companies, we do not ask for a specific fee from our applicants. The income we receive is from our partnerships with the Provincial Education Authorities, who routinely provide fees to recruiters. This policy is in keeping with our ethos that the journey out to a job in China should be as economical and hassle-free as possible.
Applying through Middle Kingdom Group is just the beginning of your journey out to the East; we will be with there every step of the way to answer any queries you may have both before departure and during your time in China. What’s more, our extensive network of contacts developed in China itself means there is a team of partners in each of the provinces in which we are active, who will meet you and are available to contact any time. With our senior management mostly based in China themselves, you will likely meet one of them over the course of the year.
If you’re straight out of university, then the chances are you’ve not taught English before. It’s a good idea to do some research and preparation before leaving, and there are numerous excellent websites for this (check our Links section). There will be a chance to gain some training, insights and practice classes at our annual Orientation Week, which takes place each summer in each of our main provinces. Here you would be able to gain a TEFL certificate while meeting fellow new teachers, getting tips from experienced educators, and trying out your new teaching skills during practice classes and TEFL assessments.
Every partner school offers a working visa, which is usually sorted at least a month before departure. The partner school needs to send a Foreign Expert’s invitation letter by mail after the employment is processed, with which you can apply for the visa. It costs around 1000yuan, depending on factors such as the type of visa and your preferred speed of delivery. There are several agencies which assist in the process, such as CITS (the Chinese Government Travel Agency) who will help process the visa and save you the queuing, although it’s also possible to do it directly at a Chinese Embassy to get it sorted in person.
A pre-employment medical check is standard for anyone starting a job in China, even for the Chinese. We will send you the relevant form, and you should get the basic parts signed off by a doctor or nurse in the UK. It’s usually better to deal with the slightly larger items, such as the X-Ray (can be expensive in The West), during your first week or so in China, or during the Orientation Week.
As is the advice for most travelers, you’re advised to buy some travel insurance cover before you leave for China. Many insurance companies now have packages tailored for those working abroad. In the event of something happening, you would no doubt find it much easier to deal with an insurer in your home country rather than speaking to a Chinese company. If you are really unable to purchase cover (for example, if you’re already out of the country), most schools do provide basic medical insurance.
The semesters are the same as in the West, and the new term begins at the start of September. However, it would be an ideal start to your year in China to spend a week or so adjusting to the country and perhaps taking in a bit of the country, before going onwards to your teaching location or our Orientation Week.
While the term ‘culture shock’ has become something of a cliché, it’s true that almost everyone experiences some degree of it in their first few weeks in a new country. It’s part of being human. The first few weeks in China are a bombardment of the senses with some of the most interesting foods, smells, people and sights you have probably ever seen. While the vast majority of people grow to love it, if you decide it’s not for you then we will always be at hand to address any issues to the best of our ability by telephone, email, Skype, or in person with our colleagues on the ground in China.
There are classic stories in the English Teaching online community about foreign teachers ‘doing a runner’ from their job. While most of these are urban myths, problems do occur from time to time. If you are having problems with your job, the first thing to do is speak to your school, then to our Chinese partners, and then speak to us. We will always be at hand to talk things through with you. If after everything you do feel you would like to leave, you would not be eligible to receive your flight reimbursement. Additionally, the school will usually ask for some compensation money (usually around 5000yuan). For this and countless other reasons, it goes without saying that you should give a great deal of thought to your decision to apply to teach in China.
There is still censorship over some aspects of internet use in China, and accordingly China has its own version of many Western websites. However, most foreigners use various online tools to continue browsing just as they would at home.