Some notes for non-native English speakers looking for ESL positions


Since April of 2017, China has become very strict with working visa policy when foreigners are searching ESL jobs. Many cities couldn’t arrange a legal working visa for non-native English speakers, that means no matter where they got their degrees, they couldn’t accept non-native English speakers. Here in China, all that are not from Australia, Canada, America, Britain, New Zealand and maybe Ireland are regarded as non-native English speakers. However, there are some schools that can arrange a working visa for anyone that got his degree from an English speaking country. If you don’t have such a degree, there won’t be many job opportunities for you especially when you want to get a working visa.

We have a limited number of schools that can try to get a working visa without a degree from an English speaking country. These schools will care more about your English accent, education background(whether major in education or English), and teaching experience and also salary expectation. Besides schools requesting legal z visas, there are some schools that would consider other types of visas, like student visa, tourist visa or other visas you can get.

Everyone want to be legal living in another country, but we can not decide anything. We have worked on getting ESL job for foreigners for a few years, and we grasp the overall market dynamics. We are always informed about the visa policy change just after some schools, sometimes we know earlier than schools. We also know that quite a few foreigners are working without a legal working visa for different reasons. Some schools are not licensed to get that, some foreign teachers are not qualified to get one. Some foreigners prefer to work on a business visa, they think it’s easier and faster to get and will have more freedom. As far as I know, those schools that dare to employ foreign teachers without a working visa have a good relationship with government or they have done so for a few years and never caught by the police, otherwise they won’t take such risk. They need to guarantee their own safety first, no schools want to be caught by the police or fined. That is to say you don’t have to worry too much about your safety.

For a non-native English speaker, the average pay is 10,000rmb per month, for teaching English. If someone is more than qualified, with a master’s degree in education from an English speaking country, TEFL certificate and more than three years’ teaching experience with a perfect English accent, he might be paid 12,000rmb or even 15,000rmb per month. However, those are a very small part of jobs available. The English accent is the most important for sure. If you want a legal working visa, the degree from a native English speaking country is the most important. Many non-native English speakers request a working visa and a high pay but don’t have a degree from English countries. That is very difficult to fulfill and not reasonable. They could try for a few weeks, if they can find a job that pays more than 14,000rmb and get a working visa, they are lucky. If they can not, I suggest them to make some compromises as soon as possible. Good job opportunities might be gone while you are still insisting on your own idea.

We have too many non-native English speakers with an ordinary English accent looking for ESL job in China. Even some of them want to pay me for getting a job for them. So you see what the current situation is. What we need are qualified teachers with perfect accent. Maybe you heard from your friend that taught in China or are teaching here, they are getting 15,000rmb or higher pay, but you never know if schools will hire someone else when another teacher that is more qualified than you but accept a lower pay want to work for them. All schools will prefer someone that can accept a lower pay with the similar qualifications.

In conclusion, all foreign teachers should have the right attitude towards looking for an ESL job in China. Seizing the right opportunity is very important. Everyone has the right to raise their own requests and expectations. However, that should depend on the reality and whether you have the luck to get the best job. Comparing mentality is not advocated. If someone that has spent more than two months looking for an ESL job in China, and still couldn’t find one, there are two possibilities: 1. He is too picky and miss some good opportunities  2. Not many schools are ready for non-native English speakers