China visa

For years now it seems that China has long been one of the best and most popular options for teaching abroad, and it’s easy to see why; the vast landscapes, the fascinating mix of ancient cultures, the world-class cuisine, and of course, the professional opportunities.

Chinese demand for foreign teachers over the last twenty years has been massive. A 2006 article in the Economist purports that “China is already the world’s largest market for English language services.”

With many teaching positions offering over 15,000 RMB, free accommodation, airfare bonuses, and even paid vacation, it’s not hard to understand why so many young adventurers have left their western abodes to teach in Google-less and delicious China.

Yet now it seems that China is making strides to refine their selection process and tighten up the regulations on who they’re letting work in-country. Whether it’s the result of desperate employers continually hiring inexperienced professionals to meet the hungry demand, or an update to immigration policy in an increasingly bordered world, it’s impossible to say.

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Temple in China

Sitting on a plane headed for Shanghai in September 2011 the same thought ran through my head over and over… “Am I totally insane?”. This was quickly followed by another thought, “Well if I don’t like it I will just turn around and come back.” Fortunately for me and my husband we DID like it, something that is proved by the fact that nearly 3 years later we are still there, teaching EFL at a University in China.

Where do you want to work?

For anyone considering this move there are a number of things to be considered carefully. I will try to outline some of the things you might want to weigh up before you embark on an Asian adventure.

Firstly be aware that China is big, very very big. I know we all know this but getting a grasp of the vastness is really hard even when you live there, and it is almost impossible to understand this before you arrive. Therefore, it is advisable to get acquainted with the map and the location at least of the main big cities when looking for a job.

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9 Things You’ll Discover About Living in Hong Kong As a TEFL Teacher

By Eckhard Pecher (Self-photographed) [CC-BY-2.5 ( or CC-BY-2.0-de (], via Wikimedia Commons

So you’ve got yourself a TEFL job in Hong Kong!

Firstly, well done! Secondly, we’re INSANELY jealous and thirdly we thought we’d share with you 9 things you’ll discover about living in Hong Kong!

1)      It’s Cantonese!

Brushed up on your Mandarin all ready for your new adventure in Hong Kong? Well you better get back to night school as the most commonly spoken language in Hong Kong and neighbouring Macau is Cantonese!

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By Helen Hargreave

5 Things You’ll Discover About Living In China

When you think of China, what do you associate it with? The Great Wall, Peking duck, the Terracotta Warriors? These are all common things that spring to mind when you think about one of the most popular TEFL destinations on the planet.

However we all know that visiting a place and living there are completely different – so what can you expect when you get there?  Here are a few inside facts before you join the 1.34 billion people living in China…

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by Clark Nielsen, author of Yes China!

EFL Classroom in China by Clark Nielsen

After working at multiple schools in China, I’ve switched gears and am now teaching in Thailand, facing many of the same obstacles and noticing similarities on a regular basis. Namely, the school facilities are almost identical. I think a lot of us EFL teachers go with the naive assumption that our school abroad, wherever it may be, is going to be clean and modern and cozy. But we’re English teachers! We don’t always get the best. So here are five things you should be aware of, in case any of these are deal breakers:

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by Jason Luong

Navigating Air Travel in China – Be Careful

By Thomas.fanghaenel (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Besides taking a high speed train, the next most comfortable and convenient way to travel across China is to take a plane. Buses are extremely dirty, crowded, and uncomfortable. It gets worst when you have migrant workers sitting next to you who obviously haven’t showered in over a week. Booking a car is not economical for far away destinations. So just book a flight.

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by Jason Luong

Making Friends in China – Expats? Locals? Migrants?

By Thiago Hirai from São Paulo, Brazil (Flickr) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Do you really want to get to know China? Or are you just hear for a good time, and then it’s time to head home? Don’t shortchange yourself. Make friends with the Chinese!

Don’t spend too much time just hanging out with your co-workers or other English teachers. Sure, you’ll learn a lot from them. But you’ll learn much more having Chinese friends and those who’ve lived here for a long time.

Get to know the expat community. But don’t limit yourself to just this. The expat community in each city is actually very small. Basically, everyone knows everyone. If you screw an expat or otherwise present yourself as someone who is dishonest or just looking to earn some money before leaving, you won’t make any real friends. Word will get out. Trust me on this.

Where to meet expats? Go to an expat bar and start talking to people. Look online for expat forums and find out where they meet each week.

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by Jason Luong
Read Jason’s previous post about Finding Housing in China.

Cell Phone Service in China – Getting a Local Number

By *christopher* from San Francisco, USA (cell phone Uploaded by russavia) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You’re going to need a phone in China. Don’t bother bringing your Sprint or Verizon phone out here. They won’t work. Instead, bring an unlocked GSM phone here where you can just use a local SIM card.

If you already have AT&T or T-Mobile, all you need to do is give your carrier a call and they will provide you with an unlock code so you can unlock your GSM phone. If you don’t have an unlocked GSM phone, you buy one cheaply from Make sure whichever phone you buy, it better have Chinese language support. You’ll need to at least be able to receive texts in Chinese characters or you won’t be able to show taxi drivers where to go. Taxi drivers won’t know what you’re talking about if you show them an address written in English.

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by Jason Luong

Finding Housing in China – Know the Differences

By Tangsabd (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

You will live in luxury. Maybe not by your standards. But to millions of migrant farm workers moving into the cities for work, your living quarters will be considered a luxury much more than an arm’s length away. Welcome to China, where you will automatically have a luxurious home!

You have options. The school you’re working at might offer you a dorm room. Everything will be arranged for you—Internet, meals, cleaning, etc. All you’ll have to do is move in. But this means less privacy.

You might be lucky enough to get placed in a service apartment (like a three star hotel where someone comes in to clean your room daily). This is better than a dormitory, and you get a lot more time to yourself away from other people doing private things away from prying eyes. Not every teacher is so lucky.

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by Clark Nielsen, author of Yes China!

Five Essential Things EFL Teachers Should Bring to China

By Ealdgyth (Own work) [GFDL ( or CC-BY-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

1. A laptop

You will need a computer while you are in China, whether it’s to look up new teaching ideas or to stay in touch with friends and family back home. Now it’s possible your school will provide a computer for you. It’s also possible that said computer will be a piece of junk. It’s even possible that this computer won’t even exist, and any mention of it was simply a lie to get you to stop asking questions. Bring your own laptop. It’s actually cheaper to buy a laptop in the US than it is in China, and most (if not all) laptop power adapters can support the voltage in both countries.

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