ESL in China: Will Changes to Legislation Stop You Getting an ESL Job?

China Changing ESL Laws

ESL in China is huge business, whether it’s online or face to face. Discover the changes that may affect you and your job.

In 2018 online ESL schools in China had their teachers and tutors scrambling to get TESOL/TEFL certificates due to changes in Chinese legislation. But most people didn’t realise this was merely the beginning of a raft of changes that would affect all teachers and tutors teaching ESL in China whether online or face to face.

There has been a lot of conjecture about the reasons behind the ESL in China industry changes, but the official line is twofold:

  1. Chinese children have been overworked with extra-curricular activities so the government has had to clamp down on hours language schools, sports centres etc can be opened
  2. Unscrupulous schools are hiring unqualified tutors and teachers and charging parents a lot of money while making unattainable promises
ESL in China: Will Changes to Legislation Affect You?

So what are they and how do they affect you?

It is the coming changes that will have the most effect on online ESL tutors, even those who are teaching ESL in China remotely. These changes include:

  • Platforms will display the tutor’s personal information online for students and parents to view. This information includes:
    • Full name
    • Date of Birth
    • Degree
    • Photo
    • Schedule
    • Experience
  • Tutors will have to supply a criminal history background check at their own cost
  • Tutors will have to have a Bachelor’s degree, no matter what their previous ESL tutoring experience is
  • Tutors will have to have at least 2 years teaching experience (though a good resume writer can help with this)
  • Available work hours will be decreased

So, while there are many online tutoring companies still hiring teachers without these requirements, there will come a time in the near future where the tutors who don’t meet these requirements will lose their job and their income. 

If you are an inexperienced ESL tutor with no degree you may wish to jump in now and get as much experience as possible before the changes come into place, or maybe even hope that some platforms will flout the laws. It is definitely a chance to earn some money and gain experience while deciding what your other options might be.

So what are your other options?

There is more to the ESL industry than just teaching online to children in China, and that the need for online ESL tutors whether they are degree educated, highly experienced, native or non native speakers is only growing.

You could work for a company such as Cambly where as a freelance tutor you charge what you want and choose your niche. In fact there are numerous online platforms that offer similar services. These platforms often have a minimum requirement of a TEFL certificate, but otherwise it is up to the students to decide what kind of teacher they want. You’ll need to be able to sell yourself by having a great bio and introduction video, and it may take some time to build up a full calendar but it is definitely a workable solution for those who don’t meet the other minimum requirement.

Or you can start your own ESL tutoring business which opens up a lot of options so you aren’t limited by ever changing rules from different governments. By starting your own online ESL tutoring business you can charge what you want, work when you want and have the clients you want.

So while ESL in China has changed and has closed the door on a lot of fantastic ESL teachers, there is still plenty of opportunity out there for those who are eager and willing to make a go of it. Whether you want to teach online or face to face around the world, with bit of research you will be able to find the right ESL job.

Further Reading:

Teaching English Online: Don’t Let Not Having a Degree Stop You

Teach English Online: The Easy Guide to Getting Started

Start Your Own Online ESL Tutoring Business: Insider Knowledge