I am from the United States (Michigan) and I have been teaching conversational English at a university in Nanchang, China for almost 3 years. I have almost 3 years teaching experience, but prior to teaching I was a radio DJ in the states and also have experience in fundraising and event planning for non-profit organizations.
I have a TEFL certificate in addition to a Bachelor’s Degree and radio diploma.
Living in China
There is never a dull moment living in China! I love the food, meeting new people and learning about this wonderful culture. The people here are so friendly and welcoming. The least thing would be people spitting and throwing trash everywhere!
Nanchang is a very safe place and it’s very easy to get around by bus and taxi. They are also building a subway which should be done by next year. We have insurance through the school, but if you’re sick, you can only go to a place the school suggests. There are other clinics you can find with English speaking doctors, but some people if they are having more serious health problems, they usually go to Shanghai to see a doctor.
The school provides apartments for the teachers and the average salary is 5,000rmb a month if you work at a university. There is plenty of part time work so you can make a lot more money than this. We have almost two months off in the winter and two months off in the summer, plus one week off during the National Day holiday in October. But the winter holiday could change because it always depends on Chinese New Year.
We only get paid for 10 months but we do get paid during the winter holiday which is nice.
Teaching in China
There is definitely a demand for English teachers in China. In Nanchang, most universities require two years of teaching or a TEFL certificate and a Bachelor’s degree. If you live in another country, once you’re hired the school will send you documents and you would need to apply for a work visa. When you first apply it is only good for one month when you come here, so once you arrive, the school will register you and get your resident permit and updated visa. Contracts are usually for one term (September – June) and if you stay the school will renew your visa before you leave for the summer.
We have co-teachers who give us our schedule, let us know when we have days off and will help you if you are having problems with your students. They are not in the classroom when you are teaching so you are left alone. A text book is provided but you do not have to use it all the time if you don’t want to. As long as you are getting the students to speak English, it’s up to you so you can be as creative as you want.
One class is 80 minutes with a 10 minute break after 40 minutes and class size ranges anywhere from 40-55 students. Dress is very casual here.
Recommendations & Concerns
You can learn so much about different cultures because each province is so different from each other. If you love to teach and love to travel, I would recommend China because you will have such a great experience here.
I would say some have concerns about pollution in some cities. If you are an organized person and need to know details ahead of time, China may not be the place for you. Everything is last minute so be prepared to never be able to plan anything in advance. But as we say, just go with the flow and realize this before you arrive and you will have no problems.