August 26, 2019


Coming to teach with Totally China in China requires you to have a qualification in teaching English as a foreign language. Don’t worry, this isn’t a difficult task, and this guide will provide you with all you need to know as you look to start your adventure in China!

Why Do I Need to be Qualified to Teach in China?

It’s not uncommon to hear people say that you can simply rock up in China, backpack slung over your shoulder, and find teaching jobs without any problem. Whilst teaching jobs here are plenty, China’s legal framework is certainly not joke, and if you work with Totally China, you must do so legally.

So, what do you need exactly, to legally work in China? This depends on how much experience you have prior to coming to teach in China:

If you are fresh out of university, or do not have two or more years of professional work experience (after graduation), you must obtain a formally recognised teaching qualification. These, explained in more detail below, are fairly easy qualifications to get.

If you have more than two years work, then legally, you are not required to obtain a teaching qualification. However, it is strongly recommended that you too, obtain such a certification, as doing so makes you a far more attractive candidate for schools looking to hire English teachers.

So, what is the qualification that you need to get? You can choose between two different certifications, although these are both largely the same. The first is “TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language)”, and the second is “TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages)”. As I say, these are very similar, and schools in China will not be more likely to accept one qualification over another.

Why Do Schools in China Want Me to be Qualified?

Naturally, schools in China only want to hire teachers that have proper training. A relaxed policy to English teaching in China previously has led some schools to have bad experiences with foreign teachers that don’t care about their job, cannot handle difficult classroom situations, and cannot grasp the actual curriculum that they are supposed to teach. At Totally China, we pride ourselves on providing high quality teachers to these schools.

So How Do I Get the Qualification?

Don’t worry too much, getting a TEFL/TESOL qualification is not a difficult process. If you want a flexible option you can complete an online course, from anywhere. This is a great tool if you do not have a training course near to where you are living, but you won’t have an instructor to answer questions or give you feedback immediately.

You can also attend a course, and learn from teachers, alongside other students that also want to teach abroad like you. This is a lot more fun, and you might learn more from having to present, teach, and study in a physical teaching environment. Of course, if you currently do not have the time to travel to and partake in a physical course, perhaps an online course would be better for you.

What Will I Get Out of a TEFL/TESOL Course?

Imagine, you’ve arrived in China, you’re at your new school. You’re in a classroom, teaching thirty first-grade children, all roughly seven-years old. They speak very little English, and you have no Chinese assistant to help you in the classroom. They are all extremely excitable, loud, and are shouting things at you and to each other. Two children begin to argue, asking you in Chinese to help them sort out a problem they are having with one another. Meanwhile, two other students are physically fighting on one side of the classroom. Are you ready to deal with this?

Whatever type of course you choose to do, you shouldn’t expect TEFL/TESOL to just be a routine box-checking exercise. On the course, you’ll learn important things about managing classrooms, lesson planning, and the right and wrong ways to speak to children – especially those that don’t speak much, or any English at all.

Kids in the classroom are mostly well behaved, but a formal qualification will best prepare you for when they’re not.

TEFL courses also cover various styles of teaching, which means you’ll learn how to adapt your teaching style to different learners and different classroom situations. You’ll also have a really great opportunity to refresh your knowledge of complex English grammar rules, and the tools you need to explain certain concepts to students.

You’ll also be helped with finding resources, both physical and digital to learn in class. You’ll learn about activities and classroom games that really work and that have been practiced and successfully used for decades.

So, What Should I Do Next?

Lots of TEFL/TESOL courses are different, the first main difference being between those taught online and in person.

Once you have an idea of that, get online and do some research. Some courses specialise in adult learning, others in children’s learning. Some even specialise in teaching in Asia, with courses tailored to specifically teaching students like the ones you will be teaching in China. If you feel confident with children or have worked with children before, you might consider one that emphasise more teaching, course content, and teaching resources more heavily.

There are so many great courses, online and in person to choose from, that we can’t recommend a particular company to you. It all comes down to want you want to get out of the course and what schedule you have for completing it. Once you’ve got the qualification though, you’ll be well on your way to your new life in China!


    One Comment

  • Jacqueline September 26, 2019

    Looking forward working towards this