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Mailbag: What can you expect from a TEFL job in China?

I received this email from a reader today:


I really want to teach in China for part of my gap year. I heard that some places pay for flights, accomodation and monthly salary. Do you know of any of these sites? Do you think they are dodgy? Please let me know.

There are a couple of questions in here that everyone considering coming to China should know the answer to. I’ll treat each in turn.

Do jobs pay for airfare, accommodation, and a salary?

The standard package for foreign teachers in China includes airfare, accommodation, and salary. Since pay (especially in big cities) is often relatively low, it is important to make sure your accommodation is taken care of and you will get some sort of money to pay for flights.

Accommodation can be very different from school to school and city to city. Some schools own or rent apartments that they let teachers use. In this case, you may share with someone or you may have an option for your own place. Other schools offer money for an apartment. If you are in negotiations with a school that offers money, make sure that it’s actually enough to pay for a place, so you won’t have to make up the difference out of your own salary. In bigger cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen), it’s not uncommon for housing to not be included – since housing is quite expensive in these cities, be sure to consider this carefully.

[box type=”tick” style=”rounded”]Housing offers differ from school to school. Do your research and ask questions.[/box]

Airfare is usually paid at the end of contracts; school are usually not willing to pay for international airfare for a teacher they have never met. Airfare reimbursement can either be the exact price of a ticket, or a flat rate. This is something worth negotiating over.

[box type=”info” style=”rounded”]Airfare is usually paid at the end of contract; most school are not willing to pay to bring you over.[/box]

Salary should always be paid. Period. Private schools are making quite a bit of money off of their foreign teachers; you should be getting something for your work. Under no circumstances should you work for free.

[box type=”alert” style=”rounded”]If a school wants you to work for free, move on![/box]

This leads to the final question: where to find good teaching jobs in China.  This is a good question, and one that I’ll write about more in the future; until then, the site offers some links to TEFL job sites. Try there first, send out a bunch of emails to whatever jobs tickle your fancy, and see what offers come in.

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