Unlocking Opportunities: A Comprehensive Guide to Teaching in China

This is a comprehensive guide to a great journey teaching in China. In recent years, China has opened its doors wider for international educators, creating a flourishing environment for aspiring teachers from around the globe. With a blend of ancient traditions and modern cities, China offers a unique teaching and living experience. If you’re contemplating embarking on a teaching journey in China, this guide aims to answer some pressing questions you might have.

Teaching in China: A Comprehensive Guide to a Great Journey

Can Foreigners Still Teach in China?

Yes, foreigners are still welcomed to teach in China, provided they meet the necessary qualifications and visa requirements. The demand for international teachers continues to grow as China emphasizes global education. Explore the visa guidelines to ensure you’re eligible.

Earning Potential: How Much Do You Earn Teaching in China?

The salary range for teachers in China varies based on factors like the city, school, and your qualifications. On average, teachers earn between $2,500 to $4,000 per month. Some institutions also provide housing allowances, flight reimbursements, and other perks, making teaching in China an attractive option financially. Dive into salary insights to get a clearer picture.

Demand for Teachers: Are Teachers Needed in China?

Absolutely! The growing emphasis on bilingual education has spurred a significant demand for English teachers, as well as educators in other subjects. The China Youth International platform has numerous listings for teaching positions across various cities in China.

Is There an Age Limit for Teaching in China?

The age limit for foreign teachers in China typically ranges between 18 to 60 years old. However, some institutions might have different age requirements. More information can be found on Chinese governmental portals.

Qualifications: Do I Need a PGCE to Teach in China?

While having a PGCE (Postgraduate Certificate in Education) is beneficial, it’s not mandatory. A Bachelor’s degree and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification are often sufficient. Explore TEFL certification courses to get started.

Ease of Employment: Is It Hard to Get a Teaching Job in China?

The ease of securing a teaching job in China largely depends on your qualifications and the demand for teachers in your subject area. With the right credentials, many find it relatively straightforward to secure a position. Browse through job listings to gauge the current market.

In conclusion, teaching in China presents a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in a rich cultural tapestry while contributing to the global educational landscape. Explore the available teaching positions through China Youth International and take the first step towards an enriching teaching experience in China.

Citizens From Those Countries Can Now Teach in China

The requirements to teach English in China in 2021 are quite straightforward. Except when they aren’t. The eligibility criteria to get employed as a foreign teacher usually cause some confusion, especially as there are some exceptions to the rule. That’s why we are here, we will go with you every step of the way while ensuring that everything is done to the utmost perfection and efficiency. Apply here to find out if you qualify

The key requirement to teach English in China in 2021? 


The primary requirement to teach in China is having a valid Z-Visa in your passport. This is the only type of visa that allows you to work in the country, legally. This means that the requirements of the visa dictate those to teach English in China. In this sense, being allowed to teach in China is actually deceptively simple. If you can get a Z Visa, then you can teach. Easy!

Citizens from the following countries qualify as ESL teachers and Z visa
?? Australia
?? Bermuda
 –British Antarctica territory
??British Indian Ocean territory  
??The Falklands (i.e. the malvinas islands )
??British guernsey  
??Guyana (formerly known as British Guiana)   
??The isle of man  (British Irish sea territory)
??South Africa  
??New Zealand  
??Pitcairn islands   
Cyprus’s ROM tilly and DE kelly 
?? South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands 
?? Saint Helena (Tristan da cunha archipelago) 
??The United States  
?? The United States virgin islands 
??Antigua and Barbuda  
??The Bahamas  
??Pakistan Barbados Island 
??British virgin islands  
?? British cayman islands 
?? Grenada 
??Saint Vincent and the Grenadines 
??Saint Kitts and Nevis  
??Saint Lucia  
?? Trinidad and Tobago 
??Turks and Caicos Islands  

Please note that most countries above only apply to those interested in ESL position with some exceptions. Please contact us for more info.

Eligibility Requirements to Teach English in China

To get a Z visa, you must satisfy certain criteria – from nationality and age to qualifications and a few other pivotal bits and bobs. It’s important to know that there are several exceptions to many of the below detailed rules. For clarity and ease of info-sharing, we’ll detail all those at the end of the article. 

Here are the primary Z Visa requirements:

1. Your Nationality 

You must be from one of the approved countries above

2. You must hold a Bachelor’s Degree 

China has also decided it wants a certain foreign teacher to work there – one with a Bachelor’s Degree. The significant news is, however, that the degree can be in any subject. It does not need to be teaching or English specific at all. Got a Bachelor Degree in Making Animals out of Inflatable Balloons? If the degree is legit in your country, then you can teach English in China!

3. It’s a plus to have recognised and accredited TEFL certification – Teach English as a Foreign Language

TEFL – Teach English as a Foreign Language 

TESOL – Teach English to Speakers of a Second Language 

CELTA – Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (we guess TESOL was too hard to pronounce!) Now, they may all seem similar, but there are a couple of important differences. 

The first two are very similar and, as far as requirements to teach English in China in 2021 goes, It would be a plus to have a 120-hour certificate. 

This means you complete the course over 120 class hours. TEFL courses allow you to teach English to non-native speakers abroad, and this is precisely what you need if you wish to teach in China. TEFL jobs are in foreign countries. 

A TESOL certificate allows you to teach English abroad but also to foreigners in your own home country (say, to brand new immigrants). Yes, you can apply for a Z Visa with a TESOL certificate too. The CELTA certificate is offered by Cambridge University (UK). This is a thorough course, which includes plenty of theory and practice. Cambridge customises CELTA for teaching adults, primarily, so it’s not nearly as popular with those who want to teach English abroad.


4. You must have a CLEAR Criminal Background Check from your home country

To apply for a Z Visa, you must present a Criminal Record (also called a Police Check) that shows you have no priors.

And don’t forget that once you have all your documents, you will need to have them authenticated for the visa application.

Eligibility Exceptions

Remember how we said that everyone’s story is different? Well, it’s true: what if you are not originally from one of the approved countries above but you studied and gained your Bachelor Degree from one of the approved countries? Apply to find out if you are exempt 

Feel free to send in your application and find out if you qualify.

This article is a combination from different sources and we made sure that the list of countries is updated and verified by official sources. If you have questions in regard to this article, please send us an email. 

TEFL / TESOL / TESL / CELTA / DELTA – What’s The Difference?

​So you’ve decided it’s time to research more about the best way to live overseas. Teaching English abroad seems like it could fit the bill, but when you get on Google to look up anything to do with teaching English abroad, you quickly find yourself immersed in a complicated new world of acronyms:  TEFL, TESOL, CELTA, ESL, EFL, DELTA and so forth.

Don’t worry, we’ll help you understand the differences between each term, and which one you need to take. First off, let’s clarify what ESL and EFL are and that they’re not certifications in and of themselves:

ESLEnglish as a Second Language.

This acronym typically refers to English language education in countries where English is the official language. Examples of ESL students would be recent immigrants or foreign exchange students studying English in a country where they can be immersed in the language.

EFLEnglish as a Foreign Language.

While confusingly similar to “ESL”, this term is usually used when referring to English language education in countries where English is not the official language (most of the world). Students in this situation often speak their native language in their daily life and only encounter English in a classroom.


TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.

TEFL is the most popular and common acronym used to refer to teaching English abroad. A “TEFL certification” refers to the training courses and certificate that are commonly required by language schools and institutes around the globe seeking to hire English teachers.

Be aware that “TEFL” does not refer to a singular body, company, certification, or school.  It is an industry acronym and there are many TEFL schools, TEFL training programs, and certification options of varying degrees of quality, length and expense.


TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages.

In North America, “TESOL” is more typically used when referring to teaching English to non-native speakers in native English-speaking countries such as the U.S.  Hence, if you want to earn a Master’s degree for teaching English as a second language in your local public school system that degree will likely be in TESOL. 

It is common for British, Canadian and Australian training centers to issue a certificate in TESOL as that is also used for domestic teaching and regulated by their governments.  The US does not have any domestic regulation for teaching English in private language schools and therefore most US and European training would use the term TEFL for teaching abroad.


TESL stands for Teaching English as a Second Language.

Just like TEFL, a TESL certification enables you to teach English to non-English speakers. The main difference between TEFL and TESL , however, is where you are actually teaching.

A TESL certificate usually refers to people who plan to teach to non-native English speakers living in a native-English-speaking country. In other words, you’d seek a TESL qualification if your primary interest is to teach in a country where English is the first language, such as the United States, Canada, The United Kingdom, or Australia.

However, if your primary interest is in traveling and teaching English overseas, then you should seek a TEFL certification.


CELTA stands for Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults.

CELTA is a specific brand of TEFL certification that is awarded by the University of Cambridge’s non-profit assessment organization, Cambridge English Assessment.

The course is offered by a variety of different schools and educational institutions around the globe. It is the equivalent of a 4-week, intensive 120-hour TEFL certification, and trains you to teach English to adults only.

It should be noted that many CELTA providers offer limited (usually local) job placement assistance or none at all. The vast majority are language schools and the CELTA organization does not coordinate with other CELTA schools on assistance. So, each school is on their own with regard to resources for job assistance and placement.


DELTA stands for Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults.

Similar to CELTA, DELTA is another certification brand awarded by the University of Cambridge’s non-profit assessment organization, Cambridge English Assessment.

A DELTA qualification is restrictive in the sense that it is only offered to qualified teachers who already have at least one year of teaching experience. Therefore, DELTA should be only be considered as an option for experienced teachers who are seeking more credentials from Cambridge English Assessment, specifically.

While it may look good on your resume or CV, you absolutely do not need a DELTA to teach English overseas.

What is the best online TEFL course?

I’m asked this question a lot. So, what is the best online TEFL course?

Well, like many things in life, there’s no simple answer. Course quality, features and cost all come into the equation.

What I can tell you, however, is there are four online TEFL (or TESOL) courses that punch above their weight.

They’re all 120 hours in duration and will get your foot in the teaching door.

Plus, they’re amongst the cheapest online TEFL courses available.

Why a 120 hour TEFL course?

For most teach abroad destinations, including China, 120 hours is the minimum requirement along with a bachelor’s degree.

But you should check the requirements of the specific country you’re going to.

There’s no point doing more hours – and paying more – unless you have to. I’ll talk about that later.

So, if you’re looking to teach overseas (once the coronavirus has passed) or you’re ready to teach online now from the comfort of your own home, here are the best online TEFL courses to consider.

Before I begin…

Just so you know, I’ve taught English in China a couple of times, I’ve completed a TEFL course and bachelor’s degree, and I’m in constant contact with people doing TEFL courses as part of my job.

So it’s safe to say I know what I’m talking about.

I’ve paid my TEFL dues.

Have I completed all four courses below? Absolutely not – I’d go crazy if I had to repeat the same thing over and over!

But when it comes to TEFL certification online, trust me. I know what to look for, what’s important, and what you need to be wary of.

Ok, let’s get straight into it.

1. Level 3 Online 120 Hour by i-to-i

Good old i-to-i. They’re a pioneer of the TEFL industry, having been around longer than the others.

A staggering 200,000 people have completed an i-to-i TEFL course. And that includes me!

Things I like about this course

  • It’s well-structured and constantly reviewed
  • Your answers are assessed by DELTA qualified tutors
  • Great customer service (backed by thousands of reviews)
  • Regulated by the English government

Room for improvement

  • You only get 10 weeks to complete it (an extension of up to a year costs extra)

Price point

  • US$139 / GBP£110 / AU$199 at time of publication

In case you’re wondering, DELTA is a higher qualification than TEFL and even CELTA. I touch on TEFL vs CELTA further down.

For me, the fact that this course is marked by super-qualified instructors is what makes it one of the best online TEFL courses available. It’s a big wow factor. You won’t get that with a crappy Groupon TEFL!

2. 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Certificate Course by Global Language Training

Global Language Training was started by a group of experienced teachers. More than 85,000 students have graduated with one of their TEFL online certificates.

The 120 Hour Advanced TEFL Course is their most popular, and for good reason.

Things I like about this course

  • You get a year to complete it
  • Lifetime job placement support
  • 14-day money back guarantee
  • A notary and apostille service to help with your work visa for China
  • Includes a free 40-hour specialist course in teaching online (or other area)

Room for improvement

  • Limited independent/external customer reviews

Price point

  • US$139 / GBP£110 / AU$199 at time of publication

I love the bonus 40-hour course to help boost your online teaching skills. It effectively makes this a 160-hour course for the price of 120 hours.

3. 120-hr TEFL Course with Tutor & Videos by iTTT

Another big player in the TEFL industry, iTTT has two 120-hour courses to choose from.

Personally, I’d rather fork out a little bit extra for the tutor support and suite of videos, but you could still get away with the no-frills option. After all, 120 hours is 120 hours!

Things I like about this course

  • Loads of videos
  • If you have any questions, a tutor will get back to you within a day
  • Lifetime job guidance
  • Includes a free 50-hour specialist course (business English or young learners)

Room for improvement

  • It’s not the cheapest TEFL course on this list (but it’s one of the best quality)

Price point

  • With tutor and videos – US$349 / GBP£277 / AU$497 at time of publication
  • Without tutor and videos – US$239 / GBP£189 / AU$340 at time of publication

I’m a big fan of the videos because it’s the closest thing you have to a real classroom. Plus, if you’re a visual learner like me, you really can’t go wrong.

​4. 120hr Professional TEFL Course by TEFL UK

Don’t be fooled by the name. Anyone can complete a TEFL UK course – not just Brits!

In 2020, TEFL UK is donating a portion of every sale to Concern Worldwide to help tackle extreme poverty. So with this course, not only will you get TEFL certification but the ‘feel good’ factor as well!

Things I like about this course

  • Lifetime access to course materials
  • 93% of graduates say they would recommend TEFL UK
  • A notary and apostille service to help with your work visa
  • Comprehensive job placement service
  • Cheapest TEFL course in this review

Room for improvement

  • More video content would help with real-life teaching examples

Price point

  • US$124 / GBP£99 / AU$177 at time of publication

In case you missed it

All these online TEFL courses are 120 hours, which is the minimum requirement for most countries. The big question is, why would you want to do a 150-hour course or even a 180-hour course? I personally don’t see the point, unless you absolutely love studying and have the extra time and money. A 120 hour TEFL course is the minimum for most overseas destinations. Let’s face it – the purpose of the TEFL certificate is to get your foot in the teaching door (or in China’s case, part of the visa requirements). The reality is you’re going to get your experience on the job. On the flipside, a really short TEFL course, e.g. one that’s 40 or 60 hours in length, is not worth the paper it’s written on. I can only see value in these short courses if you want to test the water before committing your time and money to a full course.

What do I think of CELTA?

When I was shopping around for the best TEFL courses, I considered doing a CELTA course.

These courses are administered by Cambridge English, part of the University of Cambridge. They’re more comprehensive than TEFL, mostly full-time and run face to face, and include real teaching practice.

While it’s a great course to have under your belt, most countries don’t require the higher qualification. And, CELTA is significantly more expensive than online TEFL. In many cases, the cost is up to 10 times higher! While I’m not a massive fan of forums like Reddit, I do agree with a Reddit post that argues TEFL is a better starting point than CELTA for a newbie teacher.

Don’t say the A-word!

Accreditation. It’s a dirty word.

What! Why?

In the TEFL world, there’s no one internationally recognised governing body. Instead, there’s a plethora of them.

That’s why I take TEFL accreditation with a grain of salt.

I don’t buy the whole ‘accredited TEFL course’ thing (but all the courses I recommend are accredited).

TEFL providers essentially pay to get assessed and use the ‘accreditation’ as part of their marketing. But in a very competitive industry, who can blame them?

If an accredited TEFL course is important to you, rest assured the four above all have a badge of some sort.

What matters most

When it comes to choosing the best TEFL certification online, I believe what’s most important is a course that is engaging and well-structured, meets the minimum requirements for the country, has qualified tutors marking your answers, and is a good price.

All of the above courses fit that bill.

Not only is it one of the cheapest, but I love the bonus 40-hour specialist course for teaching students online. This is very topical – and helpful – in today’s work-from-home environment.

by Mike Cairnduff

Do you have any questions about the best online TEFL courses? As always, just contact us.