Published 9th June 2020
So you’ve done a TEFL course, got a TEFL certificate, and you’re all ready to start teaching online, but you’re just not exactly sure who you’re going to teach. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. The whole concept of teaching English online is that you can teach anyone, anywhere. But what if we told you it’s highly likely that at some point you’ll have the opportunity of teaching English online to Chinese students.
How can we be so sure?
Let’s look at the numbers, shall we?
China has an approximate population of 1.5 billion people. In 2015 it was estimated that there were over 300 million English language learners in China, and that was five years ago already! At the same time, since 2017, 17 million children have been born in China every year. This means that the pool of potential English language learners is increasing massively every year.
Of course it’s true that Chinese learners attend English lessons from a young age. At the same time, according to the EF English Proficiency Index of 2019, China has only a Moderate proficiency level and is ranked only 40 out of 100 countries in terms of proficiency. This is probably why Chinese parents are turning to extra lessons and online learning to supplement their children’s in-school English lessons.
This is supported by statistics from the online teaching companies themselves: QKids has over 800 000 online Chinese students, VIPKID 700 000, and Dada 100 000.
We’re not saying that everyone will teach English online to Chinese students, but a lot of us will. And, because preparation is the name of our game, we should take the time to find out everything we can about Chinese learners of English so we can consider the best way to teach them English.
Read more: 5 Problems for Chinese Speakers of English
Teaching English online to Chinese students
There are tons of companies around that offer online English lessons to Chinese students. Each has its own requirements for teachers, teaching rates and teaching practices. Some provide you with all the materials you need while others don’t. Some compensate for cancelled lessons, and some don’t. Certain employers offer incentives and bonuses for teaching at certain hours or completing a certain number of lessons or referring new teachers, some don’t. Some have good reputations, some don’t.
It’s important when looking into companies for teaching English online that you do your homework to choose the company which is best suited for you. This also means checking out reviews and forums to see what complaints or feedback current or past teachers have. (Reddit is a great site for this – it has threads dedicated to the different online teaching companies and teachers are not shy to be vocal on the threads!)
VIPKID is one of the more famous companies. If you are a US or Canadian citizen, have a Bachelor’s degree and at least two years’ of educational experience i.e. teaching, tutoring, or coaching, you can earn between $14 and $22 an hour teaching English to Chinese Young Learners in 1-to-1 lessons.
QKids is another one. The teaching requirements for QKids are the same as VIPKID though you also need to have teaching experience, and you can earn between $16 and $20 an hour.
Similarly, if you are a native English speaker from the US or Canada and have a Bachelor’s degree you can work for Magic Ears. You could earn between $18 and $26 an hour. Your lessons are with between 1 and 4 Chinese learners aged between 4 and 12 years. Lessons are 25 minutes long.
SayABC has more relaxed requirements for teachers. You need to be a native English speaker and have any degree or be enrolled in a university. You can earn between $15 and $21 per class. Lessons are with 4 Chinese learners aged between 4 and 12 and lessons are 40 minutes long.
BOXFish require their teachers to be native speakers with a Bachelor’s degree. The pay is $20 an hour and your lessons are with up to four students from kindergarten to Grade 12. Unfortunately it is not possible to teach with BOXFish if you are from certain countries because of their teaching programme software but this may change in future.
These are just a few of the companies that allow you to teach English online to Chinese learners, but believe us, there are loads more!
So now that we know there are definitely Chinese students in need of an online English teacher just like you, let’s look at a few more frequently asked questions about teaching English online to Chinese learners.
Who will you teach?
You will have noticed that the majority of the teaching companies offer lessons to Young Learners. It should be obvious but we’re going to say it anyway: if you’re going to teach kids you must enjoy teaching kids.
You must be willing to always be happy and smiley, sing songs, play games, and use props like puppets without embarrassment. You might also be expected to use Total Physical Response a lot in your lessons. At the very least you will need to incorporate physicality and movement into your lessons. At the same time you need to be professional at all times, as student and parent feedback is important to these companies.
If you’re teaching teens or adults you might find that your Chinese students are quite serious, but this is usually because they are accustomed to working hard in school. Chinese learners are very studious and will expect to do a lot of work in their lessons. If you prefer more laidback lessons you may need to be a bit more serious in your approach. Once you get to know your students you will find that they will be more relaxed with you.
Teaching Chinese adult learners generally means teaching Business English. Chinese adult learners will take online English lessons to improve their chances of getting a job or to better their standing in their current job. The nature of business today means that companies need to communicate with other companies from many other countries, and English is by and large considered the lingua franca of international business.
Do you need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese?
A common issue holding many people back from teaching English as a Foreign Language is that they don’t speak another language. This is not a problem.
Let us say that again: you do NOT need to speak Mandarin or Cantonese to teach English to Chinese learners.
In fact, it is largely believed that it is better not to speak your students’ mother tongue during your lessons. This is because of the benefits of immersive learning. Many teachers who can speak the same language as their students often pretend they can’t or else their students rely on translation as a crutch rather than as an aid to learning.
So even if you can only speak English, that is totally fine.
What other requirements are there?
There are a few requirements which teachers need to satisfy no matter which company they work for and who their students are. You need to have a decent computer, a headset or microphone, and a stable internet connection.
A TEFL certificate and Bachelor’s degree are sometimes not needed but if the company you want to work for is based in China, then you are required by law to have both.
Read more: How Can I Become an Online English Teacher?
That’s it! Absolutely everything you will ever need to know about teaching English online to Chinese learners.
Well, we think we’ve covered everything! but if you have any more questions about teaching Chinese learners online let us know in the comments and we’ll answer it for you!
Are you already teaching English online to Chinese students? We’d love to hear from you!