Teaching in China: 5 places where you could go

There are oodles of bonuses on offer to those would-be TEFL-ers looking to hit the classroom in the Rising Dragon and do their teaching in China. We’re not just talking about the whopping salaries of up to $1,850 USD per month, or even those generous airfare packages and holiday allowances that come with most positions here. We’re also talking about the immersive character, culture and awesomeness of the various destinations on the menu, from the buzzing streets of great metropolises like Shanghai and Beijing to the rural enclaves of the Tai Shan, the bucolic villages of Yunnan and the windswept steppes of Inner Mongolia. Where will you go?

teaching in China
Tiananmen Square & Forbidden city entrance, Beijing, China | © Joe Hunt/Flickr

Beijing

Steeped in history but racing headlong into the modern era, Beijing is very much a city of two halves. With a population of more than 11 million, it’s hardly for the country mouse. However, there are also the relics of more than 3,000 years of past, like the legendary Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, and the seemingly endless exhibition rooms of the National Museum of China. The urban sprawl of the metropolis encompasses earthy hutong houses from centuries gone by, where steamy dumpling stands cook up spicy treats in the shadows. Just an hour away, you’ll find the ups and downs of the must-see Great Wall too, while – and this should go without saying really – teaching jobs are aplenty!

Teaching in China
Shanghai, China | © Travis Wise/Flickr

Shanghai

Shanghai remains one of the most popular cities for folk heading to do their TEFL teaching in China. It’s easy to see why! This neon-lit monster of a megalopolis oozes energy and action from every single one of its steel-clad pores. From the sparkling high-rises that pierce the clouds in Pudong to the glorious architectural feats of The Bund, the ancient gabled homes of the Shanghai Old Town to the bobbing water markets of Zhujiajiao, there are countless moments of fascination to be had here. You’ll also get to enjoy one of the world’s most iconic kitchens on those lunch breaks, with steamy food courts touting exotic medleys of hairy crab (yep, you read that right!), spicy dumplings, braised pork and more.

Teaching in China
The Guangzhou river -The Pearl River | © Jorge Dalmau/Flickr

Guangzhou

With a greater metro area of more than 44 million people, it’s easy to see why this colossal megacity on the delta of the Pearl River has risen to become one of the biggest boom towns for teaching in China. A sleepless place, it pulses with a truly cosmopolitan vibe. Here, you can hit hi-tech classrooms by day and retire to quirky American sports bars, microbreweries or English taverns by evening. You can trace the glorious history of the Qing Dynasty at spots like the 11Xiguan Residence, or hit the artsy reaches of Xiaozhou Village nearby. You can also break out to hike the mountains of Baiyun Mountain on the weekends, or just flit across to Hong Kong, Macau or Shenzhen – they are all within reach!

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Beautiful fields in East Hunan | © DaiLuo/Flickr

Hunan

The province of Hunan offers the first glimpse of the rural Far East featured on this list. Opting to do your TEFL teaching in China here means delving into the very midst of the south-central heart of the nation. It’s a place where breathtaking landscapes like the soaring hoodoo peaks of quartzite at Wulingyuan meet ancient old towns like Furong and Fenghuang, and where the meanders of the great Xiang River carve through the mountains on their way to meet the Yangtze. The regional capital, Changsha, does well to balance the country character with a bout of modern energy though, and there are plenty of ancient dynastic tombs and pretty gingko-peppered roadways to explore there.

teaching in China
Yellow crane tower skyline | © Bill Tyne/Flickr

Wuhan

Imbued with the striking rooftops of the great Yellow Crane Tower, cut-through the middle by the winding channels of the Yangtze and now booming with a newfound economic life, Wuhan is the largest city in the center of the country. It’s a popular off-the-beaten-track option with folk looking to do their TEFL teaching in China in a place with plenty of job opportunities, a high quality of living, and a different line-up of attractions and cultural nuances than is found on the coast. From here, you’ll be able to check off the famous Three Gorges, meet Hubei locals down the alleyways of Jiqing Street after dark, and join in with the age-old Dragon Boat Festival each year. Nice.


Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of all the places you can go to do your teaching in China. This nation of more than one billion people has countless other options, both rural and urban. If you need any more help with placements or TEFL planning, be sure to get in touch, or check out or China jobs page…

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