How to Get the Right ESL Job in China
CHOOSING A JOB
At the time of starting this blog I had not chosen a school/job as yet. But a few days later I finally settled on one. Here’s some tips on how I did weeded out the schools and areas.
VERIFY THE JOBS TO BE REAL
The first job contract I received really confused me. The night before I had done a video interview with someone and found out the next morning that I got the job!! Yahoo, right? Nope, it turned out to be just another learning curve. The contract I received was for another school!!
The process started with the “recruiter” showing me a tonne of great pictures of a gorgeous kindergarten that looked like a Google workplace (if you haven’t seen – Google a google workplace!). The kindergarten looked like paradise! They were offering 20,000 Yen for only 5 hours of work/day, including accommodation.
The video interview was a quick two minutes. It was just a woman with a white wall – and her young daughter popping in at the end of the interview. I could have been anyone interviewing me, which I didn’t think about it at the time. Later I found out she was an “interpreter”. I got the impression that she wasn’t from the school at all.
The next morning I received the good news – that I was accepted by the school. BUT, when I studied the contract I saw it was for another school – not for the one I was told about. AND, the contract was ME hiring the recruiting company… the contract was not with the school directly. When I questioned the now team of “3 recruiters” about the contract being different than the school I thought I was interviewing for – they said there was a mix up because they were dealing with many schools at once.
But at this point, I have a few contacts in China and some of them are/were ESL teachers with experience of the new person’s dilemma. Yes, there are scams out there of people who offer you a job “too good to be true” and when you arrive you’re put into a school that is bleak and horrible. My contacts told me, “Ask to see the school or speak to a previous English teacher.” So, I did… but get no clarification in response. They were unable to connect me with a previous English teacher, nor do another video chat inside the school. (I’ve had a job interview with a school in Taiwan where I was shown around the school and met the children. THAT, was a credible job).
An experienced teacher warned, “It’s a red light for me. There are some schools that bring you in on a volunteer visa too – so watch out – if they’re not that organised.”
BTW, it’s apparently OK, but not ideal to come to China on a tourist visa and then switch to a work visa. HOWEVER, if you INTEND to work in China you must enter on a z visa. That’s what the Chinese Visa Application Centre told me this week when I was there. BUT, people do rush into a job and enter into China on a tourist visa – and then change to a work visa. Just make sure that it does get changed into a work visa. AND, you need to know there’s a process with that too – I think you need to fly to Hong Kong after your arrival – to get the work visa (plus purchase a return ticket to China). So, there’s an added expense.
THE GOOD RECRUITERS/SCHOOLS
From reliable sources, and my experience, I’ve seen the good schools do some….but perhaps not all, of the below:
- Do a video chat from the school. They have shown me around the school and introduced me to the children.
- Confirmed that they WILL organise the health insurance. Although, many teachers purchase their own once their in China.
- Are very clear about the working hours, allowable sick days and public holidays (and that they are paid).
- Are happy to chat about the details of the job description, area and answer pretty much any question you might have! Yes – even where the nearest gym is!
CHOOSING THE RIGHT JOB FOR YOU – What’s your Climate?
At this time of year (end of August) it seems all the school are hiring for the new year – beginning of September. So, I’m being handed a tonne of job offers. It’s been quite challenging trying to sort through them all.
FIRST, I needed to explore China and decide what areas suit me most. Being born in Canada, but having lived in Australia for 22 years, I don’t fancy the idea of living in a cold climate. BUT, if I want to go to China for work, I gotta accept that it’s colder than Australia. So, I’ve had to compromise and aim for the South part of China where it doesn’t snow – but is still cold.
Shanghai and surrounds is what I’ve ended up with.
I’m now in Changzhou. It’s a nice city – although I haven’t seen much of it.
Well, the school is very kind – BUT, they have me teaching Grade 1 aflatoun (even though I lack the training) and science (which I have no idea how to do). I teach Grade 4 English too – which IS what I’m trained for and what they hired me to do.
The accommodation is nice, but because it is dormitory style …. well, we have a group of kids here who think China is party city. Drunk people coming home at 4am is not pleasant. Ugh.
I am very happy with my recruiter though. He promises me a higher paying job for next year. And I told him about the accommodation being noisy at night time… so I’ll be certain to ensure I get my own place.
All in all.
China is great!