Robert Schrader in Shanghai, China

Is Teaching English in China Still a Good Idea?

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been nearly seven years since I took the greatest risk of my life: Moving to Shanghai, China to teach English, with the hope of finding my way as a travel blogger thereafter. These days I tell people it was the best decision I ever made, but back then I often wondered whether it was the worst.

To be sure, teaching English in China is a more common career choice these days—and not just because bloggers like me have publicized it. If you’re considering moving to China (or anywhere abroad) to teach English, this article should address many of your questions.

Is China Saturated With English Teachers Now?

Given that foreigners have been coming to China for at least the past seven years, presumably in increasing numbers each year, it’s safe to say that more Chinese people than ever have started learning English. On the other hand, if you’ve traveled in China outside of the tourist centers of Beijing and Shanghai, you know the vast majority of China’s 1.3 billion people still don’t speak English—there are plenty of potential English students in China.

Are All the Good English Jobs Taken?

Indeed, although China’s economic growth today is slower than it was back in 2009, the ESL industry continues to grow. Large companies like EF and Wall Street English continue to build centers across the country, while new companies pop up quickly. Of course, the answer to the question of whether all the good jobs are gone depends partially upon how you define “good,” but in 2017 as in 2007 or before, you can find a job teaching English in China with just about any type of school you want.

Where Is The best place in China to Teach English in 2017?

When I moved to China to teach English late last decade, I was adamant that I wanted to live in Shanghai, which was the world’s “It” city at the time. During my time in China and on subsequent trips there, however, I grew to prefer Beijing, among the country’s large cities anyway. Some people, on the other hand, prefer to live in small Chinese cities and get a glimpse at authentic Chinese life, even if the pay in small cities is lower than in large ones. Simply put, the best place in China to teach English depends on you.

Are ESL Salaries in China Lower These Days?

If you read financial news, you probably know that China’s currency, the yuan, has been trading low against the dollar for quite some time. I’ll leave speculation about why this is for another blogger, but suffice it to say, you can do the math: If you are earning in Chinese yuan today vs. seven years ago, you’re going to bring home less pay. Then again, your salary is always based on the school you work for, your experience and even your negotiation skills, so you can counteract this by finding a job that pays more yuan in the first place!

Do you have any tips about teaching English in China, or questions for me? Leave them in the “Comments” section below!

About The Author

is the author of 1105 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


informs, inspires, entertains and empowers travelers like you. My name is Robert and I'm happy you're here!


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