How important the TEFL/TESOL to ESL teachers who would like to teach in China!


Many ESL teachers have asked me whether they have to get TEFL/TESOL before they get to China.  Is TEFL/TESOL a necessity for ESL teachers to teach English in China?


As we all know, TEFL and TESOL are certificates that can prove candidates having the ability to teach English as the second language to foreigners whose native languages are not English.  If you’re searching for an ESL job online, you may notice that almost every employer includes the TEFL/TESOL at his or her requirement.   Some may look the TEFL/TESOL as a necessity; some take it as a preferred.  As we can see, owning a TEFL/TESOL definitely gives more credit to ESL teachers who are looking for teaching English jobs in China.  And it may help you stand out among the candidates.  Now let’s get into the TEFL/TESOL to see how it works in China.


Generally, there are two kinds of ESL teachers coming to China. The first kind is that ESL teachers who don’t have teaching experience teach English in China.  If you don’t have direct teaching experience, you need to get a TEFL/TESOL. Since TEFL/TESOL will give you some ideas about the teaching class and get you prepared to teach English as the second language.  TEFL/TESOL is designed for foreigners who don’t have any teaching English experience and get them ready in a short time. Many foreigners who don’t have teaching experience told me that the TEFL/TESOL really helps them a lot when they first come to China to teach. There are some websites that provide a lot of teaching resources useful for new ESL teachers too.

The other one is that ESL teachers with teaching experience teach English in China.


If you have teaching experience, then it’s up to you whether you want to get one. TEFL/TESOL is definitely a plus for you to get the job.


If you have done some research about the TEFL/TESOL, you may know that TEFL/TESOL assembles to different certificates according to the training hours.  The certificates start from 30-hour certificate to 180-hour certificate. Most of the schools in China require 120-hour certificate or more hours’ certificate.  Therefore, you’d better get an at least 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certificate. The tuitions vary from hours to hours. There are many organizations that offer TEFL/TESOL courses, some are online, and some are in places.  If you are qualified to get a work visa in China, then you can get the TEFL/TESOL anywhere.

However, if you don’t qualified for the work visa in China, you need to pay attention to the below part.

The requirements to get a work visa in China vary from province to province in China.  The strictest one is that you need to have a bachelor degree and at least two years working experience after you finish your bachelor degree.  This rule applies to Tier one city, such as Beijing, shanghai. The major of the bachelor degree does not matter.  However, two years working experience is a must-to-have part.  It is a big issue for those fresh graduate students who are willing to teach English in Tier one city of China.


Is “No working experience” a dead end for those ESL teachers who don’t have two years working experience and want to teach English in Tier one city in China?  Definitely no.  There is a plan B to help you make up the two years working experience. It’s TEFL/TESOL. However, this TEFL/TESOL must come from a certain organization in Beijing, not other places.  It means that even though you already have had one TEFL/TESOL, you still need to get another one in China and must get it from a certain organization. This explains the confusion that why there are some agencies or schools tell you that you need another TEFL/TESOL when you have had one already.  Since many foreigners have checked with me that whether the school cheated him/her about the new TEFL/TESOL issue, now everyone should clear about that. ESL teachers can get more information about the organization from your school or agency.  There are some ESL teachers who may wonder whether the employer pay off the tuition for the extra TEFL/TESOL. As far as I know, there are not many employers doing that.  However, you still can discuss this issue with the school when you’re doing interview.


If you don’t go to those tier one cities, then things get easier. You can get a TEFL/TESOL anywhere to make up yourself stand out among many candidates. Or you can ask a higher salary since you have a TEFL/TESOL. As the online course of TEFL/TESOL is much cheaper than the others, most foreigners will do the online one.  You can always compare the prices of each other to make your own decision.


There are some foreigners who are willing to spend their gap year as an ESL teacher in China.  They may face the issues that don’t have working experience and even no degree. For those foreigners, I would like to recommend them to get a TEFL/TESOL before they come to China to teach English and go to Tier two or three cities. Since Tier two or three cities have more flexible rules for ESL teachers to get a work visa, you can always get an ESL job there. If you have a TEFL/TESOL, then you can get  a great ESL teaching job in China.


As we discussed above, you can tell how important the TEFL/TESOL is for ESL teachers to teach English in China.  No matter you have working experience or not, TEFL/TESOL is an extra credit for you and can lock a better ESL job in China.  Therefore, getting a TEFL/TESOL before coming to China is really good option for every ESL teacher who would like to teach English in China.