How to choose your school and city in China

When choosing to Teach English in China there is nothing small about the entire process. The position is an adventure way out of your comfort zone, the country is vast and the choice of cities and school employers is endless. Here are some tips on how to narrow down your search and make sure you get that placement you are dreaming of.

What are my priorities?

We all have different drivers for coming to explore China. Be it learn Mandarin Chinese, travel Asia or simply earn a decent salary with a nice lifestyle. Listing your priorities and ordering them will help give you an idea of what is most important when choosing a position. Here are some questions to ask yourself to help narrow down that initial search:

  • Do I want to live in a warmer climate?

When narrowing down such a huge number of options it’s a good idea to start with something simple to drastically narrow your search area. China is a huge country with parts of Northern China bordering Siberia. In contrast, palm trees grow in many Southern Chinese cities. Climate is a big part of our everyday lives and a simple choice to get the ball rolling is to ask yourself if you prefer living in a warmer climate or a cooler one. Northern cities with cooler climates include Beijing, the capital. Shenzhen, is one of the southernmost cities in China and has a subtropical climate with warm winters.

  • Do I want to learn Mandarin Chinese?

If you prioritise learning Mandarin then it would rule out Guangdong province, including the city of Shenzhen. Guangdong province still widely speaks Cantonese, rather than Mandarin. If you combine this with your reference for a cooler climate, then you can immediately narrow your search to cities such as Beijing, Nanjing or Xuzhou.

  • Is travel my main priority?

If you are keen to travel around China then a city on the bullet train network would facilitate convenient trips to nearby cities. Living in a city with a larger airport saves money on excessive flights and offers direct routes to more asian destinations. For example, a return flight to Hanoi from Beijing on Skyscanner came out at £209 for a flight via Guangzhou, whereas a return flight to Hanoi with the same carrier at the same times from Xuzhou, a smaller but closer city was £527. Therefor if international travel via air is a priority, there is a considerable advantage of flying from a larger city.

Use a good recruitment agency

Recruitment agencies specialise in matching candidates to suitable positions and as such have a high level of experience in choosing suitable employers for candidates. A recruitment agencies’ business model works on fulfilling the needs of both candidates and employers to place a candidate in an ideal position. Therefor, a good recruitment agent will be an expert on advising a candidate with suitable locations and employers and will know what schools and cities work best and how to narrow down your choices. Use their knowledge to quickly narrow down your search and find a shortlist of suitable positions based around your own preferences.

At Noon Elite Recruitment we spend a great deal of time talking to you to match your personality traits, interests, career aspirations and personal tastes to generate you a shortlist of suitable employers automatically. This saves you the time and stress of making these difficult decisions from scratch and enables you to quickly find the best positions for you to then research and consider yourself. Once you have your shortlist it’s time to get into the detail…

Ask around

Once you have a suitable position or two narrowed down, it’s a good idea to research the positions thoroughly. This means researching the location and the employing company through a range of information sources. Using social groups such as Noon Elite Recruitment’s China TEFLer Facebook group you can get in touch with teachers who actually work at the school that you are considering. This enables you to talk to someone with first hand experience at the school and should give you an honest feel for the position and the daily life that it entails. When researching the city you can check travel guides, wikipedia pages, city guides and China TEFL teacher blog posts to feel the pulse of a city and how complementary it may be to your tastes.

Let the best positions choose you

Such a large decision can be daunting and it is important to remember that there is no one required answer. In reality it is likely that you will love and be highly suited to a wide number of schools. Once you build a shortlist on your preferences and have a recruitment agent recommend a couple of potential ideal fits you can reassure yourself that whichever position you choose will be great. Therefore, should you be declined after interview for one school but accepted as another you can reflect on this as a positive to helping decide your school for you and shielding you from the heartache and questions of if you choose the right position. As with so many things in life there is no right school for each candidate and afterall, the big success was deciding to do this in the first place. Whichever school you narrow it down to, you will have an incredible time!

How to choose the best English TEFL teaching position in China