What should I do before agreeing to go and work for a school in China?

There are certain things that would be good to know or do before you agree to move half way across the world. The following things are all standard and a school should not have any issues with any of them. If they do then that in itself should set alarm bells ringing. 

  • The location of the school or campus. This should be an exact address or a map link. 
  • The exact location of your potential accommodation (if nothing else then a popular area with other current teachers).
  • Transport to and from the school. Do you make your own way? Is there a subway? bus? How do most teachers commute?
  • Housing. Is it provided? Shared accommodation? How many people? If it isn’t provided, will the school have someone there to assist you finding my own?
  • Class sizes and teacher:student ratio.
  • Curriculum or key text books.
  • Turnover. The easiest way to enquire about this is just to ask how many new teachers they’re expecting and how many teachers they have in total. If the school has a high turnover rate there might be some issues.
  • Speak to a teacher who currently works there who isn’t in management. Get an email address and ask them anything you want to know about the school. You can even double check some things a recruiter or management has told you. This also gives you a chance to get a feel for the school by communicating with someone who works there. If they don’t reply to you with a reasonable amount of time, get in touch with your contact person again. Don’t just move on from this. The teacher’s reply could include vital information. 

For TESOL jobs specifically:

  1. The days off each week. Are they consecutive? Weekends? 
  2. Shifts. Are they split shifts? This would mean working in the morning and evening with the middle of the day off. I’ve never actually met anyone who worked like this but it’s still worth asking.
  3. Number of foreign teachers in total and at each centre (if there are more than one centre/campus/school location).
  4. Is there promotional work involved? What does that look like and when is it? 
Chinese schools

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