The market for foreign teachers on the mainland today is akin to a gold rush: opportunities abound, regulations are few and there is scope for big profits for anyone wishing to make a quick buck.
The mainland is a huge market for English language teaching.
There are well over 100,000 schools or institutes, ranging from night schools to private schools teaching the language,
and the market is estimated to be worth more than 30 billion yuan a year
The insatiable demand for English language tuition had made finding a job for most native speakers, particularly those with white skin,
little more than a formality.
Online expat forums are full of job advertisements from schools and language institutes to teach students of all ages,
while international websites dedicated to English-language teachers, such as Dave’s ESL Café,
feature listings for hundreds of positions across the country.
For the most part, applying for jobs is straightforward; often just submitting a résumé is enough.
Many of the schools don’t require background checks, references or proof of qualifications.
Armed only with a basic résumé, you can walk in to a language school in a modern, high-rise building, and can immediately be asked to register as a teacher at the school
without an interview, further questioning, visa or background checks.
Most teachers are not qualified, they are not certified in an internationally recognised English teaching and testing programme but still get jobs due to the sheer demand for native-English speakers in the country.
In recent years, the mainland has been rocked by a number of high-profile scandals that occurred as a result of the lack of due diligence when hiring both local and foreign teachers.
In some cases, people with shady backgrounds have landed teaching jobs.
The more shadowy corners of the market are dominated by middlemen, so-called “consultancy groups” that connect teachers with schools for a fee or sell unlicensed teaching certificates.
Horror stories abound of foreign teachers being tricked or left short-changed on the mainland. Juxtaposed alongside job adverts, online forums are filled with anecdotes of schools closing overnight or refusing to pay salaries or worse.
Salaries for foreign teachers are competitive, with most full-time positions at secondary schools paying between 120,000 yuan and 500,000 yuan a year. Local teachers typically earn between 60,000 yuan and 120,000 yuan a year.