what is tefl?

“TEFL” is the acronym for ‘Teaching English as a foreign language’ where you’ll most likely be teaching to non-native English speakers the English language. TEFL, or sometimes known as ESL Teaching (we’ll put all the acronyms below) is a fantastic way to travel and explore China whilst teaching English as a second language to inquisitive Chinese students. TEFL teachers are high in demand in China, and there’s always something for everyone.

What is a TEFL Certification?

A TEFL certification provides you with foundational knowledge, preparing you for your first English teaching position. You’ll learn key concepts around grammar, punctuation and methodology for teaching ESL classes. We recommend getting a minimum of a 120 Hour TEFL Qualification from a reputable organisation in your home country.

Chengdu Private Kindergarten (7)

Is a TEFL Qualification just online?

A lot of TEFL qualifications can be online and can provide you with the minimum 120 Hour Qualification. However, we suggest joining a TEFL course that provides you with some classroom experience, so you can work with others and learn first-hand what it will be like to become an ESL teacher. This is important so you can learn more about teaching English, and also get a feel of whether teaching ESL is right for you.

Why is a TEFL Qualification Important?

Firstly, a TEFL certification allows you to meet one of the legal requirements to teach English in China if you don’t have two or more years’ experience. You’ll need a teaching certification to teach in China, and a TEFL qualification fulfils that need. Secondly, a TEFL qualification helps you understand from a student’s point of view, what it is like to learn English as a second language. Most native English speakers do not learn the punctuation, grammar and rules involved to speaking English, something a TEFL qualification will help you appreciate.

What are the different types of TEFL Jobs?

Chengdu Private Kindergarten (9)


Teaching ages 2-6

Chengdu Private Kindergarten (8)

Primary School

Teaching ages 6-12

Weihai International Preparatory School-4

Middle School

Teaching ages 12-14

Wuhan Training Centre

High School

Teaching ages 14-16

Wuhan Training Centre


Teaching ages 18+


Training Centre

Teaching all ages, typically 3-12

What is TEFL, ESL or TESOL?

Here are the acronyms synonymous with teaching English as a foreign language, and they essentially mean the same thing. You’ll be teaching English to non-native English speakers.

TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language

EFL – English as a Foreign Language

ESOL – English to Speakers of Other Languages

ESL – English as a Second Language

TESL – Teaching English as a Second Language

TESOL – Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Chengdu Private Kindergarten (8)

Should I be a TEFL teacher in China? Am I the right fit?

Teaching English as a foreign language, or as we know now, an ESL teacher, TEFL teacher, ESOL teacher etc… is something for people of all walks of life. People come from all over the world with the same passion of teaching English and exploring the Chinese culture. Some teachers are new graduates, looking to explore for a few years before getting a serious job in the home country, but often stay and become qualified teachers. Others are more serious teachers, looking to make a significant different and teach their subject through the English language. This could be history, science or anything taught within China. TEFL teaching in China appeals to people looking for a change and are interested in joining an international society to travel, socialise or visit small quiet cities.

What Salary can I get for Teaching ESL?

Whilst teaching ESL in China, expect a fantastic salary. HiredinChina works with schools that offer an average salary of 16,000RMB, or $2,300USD. However, don’t forget how cheap living in China is, with meals as little as 15RMB, or 2USD. However, whilst teaching ESL in China, there are many other benefits schools offer outside a fantastic salary.

You’ll have the opportunity to:

  1. Have a flight allowance so you can fly to and from China for free
  2. Have performance-based bonuses for completing your ESL contract or doing exceptionally well
  3. Have legal residence in China with a Z-VISA. You’ll be able to get your residence permit and work permit for free of charge
  4. Be collected from the airport by your school, and have a HR contact that speaks fluent English to support you
  5. Western styled apartment (with a normal functioning toilet)
  6. Private medical insurance, so you can go to the hospital in China at anytime for free
  7. Promotional opportunities

How can I find a TEFL Job in China?


Complete HiredinChina's Application Form


Interview directly with the school of your choosing

Legal Process

Complete the legal process of teaching directly for the school.

Start Teaching

Start your journey of teaching in a school HiredinChina has handpicked for you.

Can non-native English speakers work as TEFL teachers?

Yes, absolutely. Non-native speakers have an edge of TEFL because they understand the grammar, punctuation and rules involved with speaking English. For Non-native speakers, their bachelor’s degree will need to come from a native-English speaking country.

What are the legal requirements to teach ESL in China?

  1. Fluent English speaker with a clear and audible accent
  2. Bachelor’s degree or above (non-native English speakers need to have theirs from a native English-speaking country)
  3. TEFL certificate, OR 2 years of teaching experience, OR English related degree
  4. Below the age of 60 years old
  5. No criminal record
Wuhan Training Centre-10

What are the native English-speaking countries China considers?

China considers 8 countries as native English-speaking countries. They are:

    1. England
    2. Scotland
    3. Ireland
    4. New Zealand
    5. Australia
    6. South Africa
    7. USA
    8. Canada

Your FAQs

We’ve put together a Resources Page to answer your most frequent questions. From Saving Money, to Getting Your Z-VISA, we have gone into detail there.

Your school will apply for your VISA for you to work directly for them. We’ll be with you every step of the journey. We’ve created our own VISA Support Page. Remember, the VISA you’re applying for is a Z-VISA.

You will have a minimum of a one-year contract, that will be full-time. You can save a lot of money teaching in China, and we’ve put together more information for you to read.

When you are directly employed by the school, they will offer you insurance. This means private level care. Be sure to check your contract for sick days.

You will have to go through your bank to legitimately send money home. To do this, follow the steps they give you. Your school will help support you and will be able to translate anything you need.

That is fantastic news! Not speaking Chinese is great for your students, as you will be able to immerse them in English more. We’ve also put together an Essential Mandarin Guide, and Benefits For Learning Mandarin when you’re exploring.