As most of you know, I've ended up living in China with my now wife and now 3 week old son, so it seems like I'll be here for the duration. I'm gonna write a quick guide for anyone in a position where they can take the opportunity to do the same.
My situation was I was in a secure and reasonably paid , but excruciatingly boring job in my sleepy home town of Chesterfield, Derbyshire. Its the kind of place everyone says theyre gonna leave, but eventually ends up leaning against a bar until their liver divorces them.
I'd met a Chinese girl who had studied here for 5 years and worked here a few, but due to visa requirements for foreign workers changing, it meant she had to return to China unless her salary quadrupled overnight so I was to either follow her, or call the relationship a day and stay in my brainrotting job and look for a fat slag to bang.
In order for me to follow her and teach abroad, I needed to either have a University diploma BA or above, OR a dedicated TESOL/TEFL qualification. You can have a BA in anything, its just to prove you aren't a complete fuckwit. This enables you to work as an English teacher.
As I had little more than a scraping of GCSEs I had to take the TESOL course, which meant me quitting work, going to Leeds for a month and doing an intense teaching course. This is not your only option as you can take TEFL qualifications online for a few hundred quid, but studying in Leeds meant I was taught by experienced teachers and also had real teaching experience in a classroom of English students.
I'd already visited and made steps to work for a school when I traveled to China about 6 months earlier, which by no means is essential but it certainly made my life easier so as soon as I got my diploma and the school arranged for my work invite, I could fuck off.
And fuck off I did.
I was expected to cover my own flight costs and make my way to the city my school was located at on my own, which in my case wasn't an issue. Upon arrival someone from the school met me at the airport and took me to my apartment, which was a shithole, but it was livable. The cost of this is covered in my salary, as is most of the bills but I had to cover leccy, internet and water I think.
Once settled I was given a bunch of books and told to teach them with little real advice other than a chat with a few teachers, but it was clear it wasn't going to be too difficult, nor are any real expectations made of you from the offset. I started covering for summer classes weds to friday, doing about 18 hours a week. Once the summer was over I was given a 20 hour contract over saturday and sunday, which is the norm for after school classes, or training schools as they are called here. I think I only had about 14 hours of classtime, but still got paid for 20 so I wasnt complaining.
Since then little has changed really, I know most of the books inside out and don't have much to think about outside of work, but the first year or so I put a lot of work in preparing for classes, finding activities and games online and so on.
Salary varies from city to city, with smaller cites starting at around £600 per month (minus maybe 100 for your accom) going up to £1000+ per month in bigger cities. Most schools offer an annual bonus in the form of either cash (usually 3/4 or so of a months salary) or they will cover your airfare should you wish to travel home during the vacation.
This may not seem so much but you will be working along side Chinese staff that earn between 150 and 250 quid a month, so your 600+ is more than enough to have a good life here before you even think about a second job.
Many foreigners will also take up a second job, which is paid very highly, usually between 15 to 20quid an hour for a few mornings a week.
Life out here isnt difficult even if you cant speak a word, which after 3 years I can still barely do. Shopping in supermarkets is easy and you will find bars around the city to meet other like minded honkies. Picking up the basics for buying street food and beer is pretty simple.
Attitudes to foreigners is 99% of the time positive. Women generally admire white foreigners are you will be called handsome regardless of how much of an ugly bastard you were in the west. Things are not so simple for non whites as China and especially the mentality of the common man is about 40 years behind the west on that score but that becomes less of an issue in big cities. In smaller cities where there exposure to foreigners is limited, just being a foreigner gives you special treatment and I have been in the local paper a few times, in a movie promoting the city and a few other situations where I have asked myself what the fuck is happening here. I've also been arrested 3 times, so sometimes the attention isn't a good thing.
I would encourage anyone who can, to give this a try for a year or two, you may end up getting boned by some cunt of a boss, or face a few difficulties but the experience of immersing yourself in a totally different culture is like nothing else and at the moment I think China offers an almost unique experience.
Its worth noting that the requirements to officially work her have changed and you now not only need a TESOL, but also a BA or higher uni qualification, PLUS 2 years teaching experience (4 for Beijing). However for many schools this is far too much to ask and they simply wouldnt get teachers if they stuck to it, so its pretty easy to find a school that will turn a blind eye. There seems to be a bit of a drought of foreigners and my school were considering a guy that had NONE of the requirements and had done time for fraud.
Anyone who has any questions, I'm happy to answer them here.