Moving abroad to teach English is a big step, so it’s understandable if you have a few questions. When you apply for a teaching job at EF English First, we will do our best to answer these questions as we help you transition from your home country to China. EF has been in China for over 20 years which means we have come across a variety of questions on a range of topics. To help alleviate any concerns you have before you apply, please take a look at some of these frequently asked questions on teaching English in China.
- Do I need to be able to speak Chinese?
- I don’t have a teaching background, can I still apply?
- Do I have to pay to take part in the program?
- I have never lived abroad before, will it be difficult to adjust?
- Does EF provide six-month contracts?
- What will my work schedule be like?
- Will I be able to save money?
- Does EF provide housing?
- Does EF offer insurance, what does it cover?
- I have more questions, what should I do?
1. DO I NEED TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK CHINESE?
No. We never use Chinese in the classroom, don’t worry if you think that sounds strange, when you do our sponsored TEFL course it will become clear how we do this. Most cities in China have English road signs and English metro stations. Most restaurants have food in English, and if they don’t they generally have pictures. Learning some basic survival Chinese when you arrive, such as addresses for taxis and some food is recommended though just to make things a bit easier. In most large cities you can even order food using apps in English.
2. I DON’T HAVE A TEACHING BACKGROUND, CAN I STILL APPLY?
Yes. Previous teaching experience is not necessary but is valued if you have it. We will give you all the skills you need to help you feel confident standing in a classroom. As long as you have a bachelor’s degree in any subject we can help you with the rest.
3. DO I HAVE TO PAY TO PARTICIPATE IN THE PROGRAM?
No! EF English First provides teaching jobs in China, Indonesia, and Russia. Although this is a job that offers full training and support, you are not required to pay to participate in the program. Instead, we will do our best to help you relocate to your new country. We will pay for your first two weeks hotel stay, and cover some of your visa costs. In many cases (depending on location) we will even pay for your flight upfront.
4. I HAVE NEVER LIVED ABROAD BEFORE WILL IT BE DIFFICULT TO ADJUST?
It shouldn’t be too difficult to adjust, we have a community of over 2000 English teachers in China who help and support each other. We have our own social network for teachers to ask questions and look for assistance. Along with that, we have organized social and cultural events for our teachers most of which are free, to help them meet other teachers and to understand Chinese culture.
5. DOES EF OFFER SIX MONTH CONTRACTS?
Due to visa regulations, we can only hire teachers on 12-month contracts. To teach English with EF, you must be willing to live and work abroad for at least a year. We have also found that is will also give you enough time to travel, explore, learn about the local culture and settle in!
6. WHAT WILL MY WORK SCHEDULE BE LIKE?
If you teach English to kids and teens or adults, you can expect to teach up to 20 hours per week. These 20 hours will be spent in class teaching, and you will spend the rest of your time in school lesson planning, providing student feedback and sometimes helping students. Your working week is usually five days, with two consecutive days off. In your first year, you will also have 10 days of annual leave, as well as 15 days of national holidays. This will give you enough time to take short trips on your days off, and travel during your vacations.
7. HOW FAR WILL THE SALARY GO?
This depends on your lifestyle. Your salary is paid in the local currency which is way above the local average. You should have enough to save money, pay student loans, travel and eat out a few times a week and enjoy a good social life. Take a look at the cost of living in China to learn more. If you share an apartment with other teachers and eat Chinese food, you will have more left than if you have your own place and eat western style food every night.
8. DOES EF PROVIDE HOUSING?
Although some schools in the smaller cities provide housing, on the whole, EF doesn’t. Although housing can be a concern for most of our new teachers, we have found that it is better if you get to choose your living situation. If you prefer to live alone, you can live alone. If you prefer to save money and live with roommates, you are free to do so. You can choose where you live, who you live with and choose to live in the part of town that you like. When you arrive, we will provide two weeks hotel stay for you, so that you have time to house hunt.
During your onboarding training, you will have a session on housing, so you know what to look for, and we’ll put you in touch with English speaking housing agents so that you can find the right place for you.
9. DOES EF OFFER INSURANCE, WHAT DOES IT COVER?
Yes, we do. EF offers three types of insurance. We work with two companies to provide health insurance to all of our teachers. Our insurers have a standard package, which is a little cheaper. The standard package allows you to use public hospitals and health centers, and you will be reimbursed for any treatment. The premium package requires you to contribute more. However, this insurance policy will cover the cost of most international medical centers. EF will match your contribution each month, and the insurance will be deducted from your salary automatically.
It is a company requirement that all teachers are covered by medical insurance. You can choose to use your own medical insurance, but you will be required to show us that you have one in place when you arrive. It is a requirement that, as a minimum, coverage matches that of the standard package EF offers.
10. I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Don’t worry, everybody has questions it’s understandable. The best thing to do is apply so that we have all your details and can make sure you meet the visa requirements. Once we know that, one of our recruiters will contact you for an initial chat before moving to interview. This is the best time to ask those initial questions, others can be asked at interview.