Published 1st March 2018

China is a hot destination at the moment in the TEFL field. There are an estimated 300 – 350 million English language learners in China, which is equivalent to the entire population of the United States learning English. Needless to say, there are thousands of jobs for TEFL teachers in China. Teaching English in China is an exciting choice because China has so much to offer in terms of tradition and culture, but it also has different ideas regarding learning and teaching to those of the Western world. If you are thinking of teaching English in China or working with Chinese learners, it is important to understand the Chinese English language industry in order to be successful.

The following are a few important considerations for the Chinese English language learning market.

Exams

Chinese learners (and their parents) are extremely interested in results. This means they are focussed on writing exams and evidence of their progress. Chinese learners will work exceptionally hard towards an exam, as they are under huge pressure (from their parents and themselves) to perform well.

Grammatical knowledge

For Chinese learners, communication is not key. What is important to them is knowledge of grammatical terms and language structures, without necessarily being able to use them in conversation. The reason for this is because this is what the exams that they strive to pass, ask for. Consequently, teacher-led lessons which deal with explicit grammar instruction is exactly what Chinese students prefer and are accustomed to.

Course providers

Course providers are hugely important. Before signing up for a course, a learner will choose a course provider which has a good reputation and a well-known name. Any school or course provider will need to have good accreditation before learners will sign up to learn with them.

Location

First prize is to learn English in an English-speaking environment, and by this we mean the UK. London, Oxford and Cambridge are especially popular as language learning destinations, for obvious reasons. Obviously this requires that learners spend time away from China and live in the UK for a while, which is preferable as this involves total immersion. This means that Chinese students often enrol on summer camps, enrol at language schools or attend universities in the US or UK.

The future

The EFL market in China looks set to get even bigger in the near future. Parents are starting to insist their children have English lessons from a very young age and classes totally dedicated to exam preparation are becoming more common.

There is no doubt that China is one of the top destinations for TEFL teachers at the moment. TEFL jobs will likely only become more attractive in the next few years which will make it an even more popular destination. Even if you are not in China, you can expect to teach Chinese learners. So it is important that you are aware of certain considerations in order to be the best teacher you can be for your students.