Recently, there’re many news stories about foreign teachers in online. Unfortunately, most of them are negative:

WeChat Official Account: ExpatRights

Currently, has nearly 300 million learners, 50,000 English training institutions, and a market of 500 billion yuan for English teaching. If we add other languages, the market will be so much bigger.

Given the high demand and profits, many foreigners want to be teachers in China. But if you’re not on a work visa or are holding a non-teaching category of work visa, you may be at risk if working as a teacher in China.

How risky is it to work as an illegal foreign teacher in China?

Training Institutions
RISK: ★★★★★

There are many language training institutions in China. In order to stay competitive, institutions hire foreign teachers through various channels. Some institutions will even hire non- speakers as native ones to deceive customers.

It’s very risky to be an teacher at an institution because:
First, many institutions are not qualified to hire foreign teachers, causing teachers to work illegally.

Second, due to the nature of the market, institutions are often reported by competitors and former employees.

But foreigners are unaware of the Chinese laws and don’t realize they were cheated until being reported. In this case, customers and foreign teachers are all victims. Since these institutions have created many troubles, they’re strictly monitored.

Home Teaching
RISK: ★★★★

莎翁教育 is a national chain of educational institution that provides home teaching services to children. It declared bankruptcy earlier this year, and many parents are asking for tuition refunds.

Working as a home teaching instructor can be risky. Since it’s a door-to-door service, parents are more likely to have arguments with teachers about tuition fees or kids’ performance. And sometimes, these disputes will involve officials.

In addition, 莎翁教育 was accused of delayed salary to foreign teachers. Without legal work status, many foreign teachers on student or tourist visas will not come forward to protect their rights.

Online Language Training
RISK: ★★★

Most online language training institutions do not require instructors to teach at a fixed location. The requirements are less strict or sometimes do not exist. As a result, many foreigners on student or even tourist visas will work as online teachers, whether they are from English-speaking countries or not. Thus, working at an online language training institution can be at risk too.

One-on-one Tutoring
RISK: ★★

Due to recent negative reports about foreign teachers, many parents prefer private tutoring instead of sending their kids to training institutions. For foreign teachers, this could mean receiving higher income.

However, a lot of private tutors are international students in who are not allowed to receive income in the country. Private tutoring might seem less risky since tutors are less targeted by officials, there are still risks in one-on-one tutoring.

Teaching At Schools

Generally speaking, 95 percent of schools will carefully follow the rules when hiring foreign teachers. However, many private schools (especially kindergartens) may ignore the laws, resulting in visa and teaching qualification issues for many foreign teachers.

Who can apply for a work visa in China?

1) Bachelor’s degree holders with 2-year relevant work experience
2) Applicants who score at least 60 points in the point system
3) Native English speakers with TEFL/TESOL certification or English-related majors
4) Holders of Bachelor’s degree or above from universities in Shanghai and offered a job in Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park or Free Trade Zone
5) Fresh graduates with a master’s degree earned within a year

“If I want to legally work as a foreign teacher in China, what conditions should I meet?”

According to the regulation issued by SAFEA, all foreign teachers must:
1) hold a valid work visa and work permit
2) be a native speaker
3) have a bachelor’s degree or higher
4) have at least 2-year related teaching experience
5) have a non-criminal record

WeChat Official Accounts: ExpatRights

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