Want To Teach Online In China? Here’s What You Must Know!

Teaching English to China is a rapidly growing field for teachers to teach online. If you want to teach online in China you must know certain things before starting your online course. This article will explain everything you need to know to succeed.

This is what you need to know to teach English in China:

  • Education
  • Equipment
  • Time Zones
  • Companies
    • Teach Away
    • VIPKID
    • QKids
  • Background check
  • Behavior
  • Tips

Now you know what topics this article covers. Let’s take an in-depth look at every requirement so you can start teaching English online to China!


You can teach English online to certain countries with no training at all as long as you are native English speaking and born in certain countries.  It will affect the hourly rate they pay you though.  With the increased competition you are better off doing an online TEFL Certificate or Diploma.

China is very selective when it comes to online teachers. There are two important educational requirements if you want to teach English online in China.

The requirements are:

  • TEFL Certificate
  • Bachelor’s Degree

TEFL Certificate

What a TEFL Certificate Is

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. Online courses teaching English represent one of the most rapidly growing fields worldwide. The TEFL certificate is a must when it comes to teaching a foreign language in a non-native English speaking country.

The TEFL certificate is not equivalent to a TESOL certificate. The main difference between the two types of certification consists of the fact that the latter applies to the teaching of English to non-native speakers in a native English speaking country (i.e. United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, etc.).  This means if you are wanting to teach children in China that you would need a TEFL.

How To Earn a TEFL Certificate

To get a TEFL certificate you do not have to previously earn a degree in an educational field or prior teaching experience. However, there are certain standards that must be met in order to obtain this type of certificate.

The standards that you must meet include:

  • More than 100 hours of coursework
  • More than 10 hours of practice (actual teaching non-native English speakers)
  • Accredited curriculum
  • Guidance provided by an expert (Master Degree in TEFL or equivalent)

NOTE: The Chinese government requires a minimum of 120 hours of coursework for all the online teachers!

You can earn a valid TEFL certificate even online. However, you must choose an online TEFL course that is accredited and meets all of the above-mentioned standards.

Keep in mind that online classes cannot help you fulfill the practice requirement. To get a minimum of ten hours of practice, you must find a way to teach non-native English speakers online.

To learn more about TEFL/TESOL certificates, follow this link: International TEFL Academy

Bachelor’s Degree

This requirement depends from one company to another. Most of the well-known companies that help you to teach online in China ask for a valid Bachelor’s Degree.

However, if you cannot afford to go back to college to get an internationally recognized degree, you should consider applying for a firm that does not require a Bachelor’s degree.

Below you will find out what companies require a Bachelor’s Degree.


If you are planning on teaching online in China you do not have to worry about fancy equipment. The basic set of equipment you will need to conduct your online classes includes:

  • Laptop or Computer
  • Webcam
  • Microphone
  • Broadband Internet

Laptop or Computer

Since you are reading this article, you probably have a laptop. Any modern laptop will do to teach online as they all have decent specifications these days.  A chrome book would not be suitable or a tablet.

The most important characteristics of your laptop are the processor type and the RAM. 8GB of RAM with an Intel i5 processor (or similar) should be enough to conduct a decent online course as long as it has a solid-state disk (SSD).  If it does not have a SSD hard drive and it has an older format then you will need at least 16 gig of RAM.

This does not take into account any extra educational software you may use on top of the one supplied by the Tutoring company.  If you are going to be running other software at the same time you may wish to use an i7 and a minimum 16 gigs of RAM.  You can use the equivalent AMD.  If you are using a Mac just be sure to check this is ok with the tutoring company as they may not have their software suitable for Mac.

It is a great idea to check your computer’s specifications. You can find various tutorials on the Internet that will guide you throughout the entire process of specs checking. These links will help you start your research: Windows / MAC.


Nowadays, most laptops have an integrated webcam. However, this will not be suitable for teaching English and you will need a proper webcam that you can position properly for your students to see you.

I would suggest a webcam with inbuilt noise-canceling microphones and an HD camera for teaching online and there is a great one I have myself which is on the Recommended Tools page.


For teaching online any microphone will do and the built-in one on your webcam or that comes with your laptop will do just fine.  If you are wanting a more sound studio type audio then you can get one with noise canceling and put a pop filter or spit shield as I like to call it on there.

Keep in mind if you also get a directional microphone you can get up and walk around to demonstrate something to the students or step back to show cards or other props.  So when you get serious you can check out the two microphones below.

The Rhode NT USB is my favorite right now for high-quality audio and when I travel I have a Samson Go Mic Connect that I use as well.  Having tried a lot on the market and used these two they are the ones I recommend and you will find links to them on my recommended tools page.

Some teachers prefer a headset microphone and if you are sitting down any simple cable one will do.  If you are going to be moving around then I would always go for a Bluetooth enabled one.

Internet Connection

It is very important to have a fast and stable internet connection. If you generally have trouble watching online movies (on Netflix and similar platforms), you might want to consider getting a better internet provider.

Most online teaching companies require certain download and upload speeds. The ping is also very important. The ping represents your internet connection’s reaction time.

For example, a 1000 milliseconds ping means that it takes your computer 1 second to get a response from the remote computer.  This would definitely not be acceptable and pings under 50ms to 100ms would be more acceptable but check with the tutoring company.

Also a 10 Mbps download speed and 5 Mbps upload speed should be enough if you are the only person using the connection. I have traveled the world for the last 15 years and this is the minimum speed I need to do my work.

There are multiple speed tests that can be found online for free. If you want to see the speed of your internet connection, try out the Ookla Speed Test.

Time Zones

Time Zones are very important when teaching online. The fact that your students are in another timezone may represent a problem.

There is only one official timezone in China. The UTC+08:00 timezone is internationally called China Standard Time (CST). It is also known as the Beijing timezone.

Depending on your country, the difference may be critical or not. For example, if you are living in a country that uses a timezone similar to UTC+08:00, you will not have trouble coordinating with your students.

There are heaps of time zone tools online that will help you figure out what the teaching times are in China vs where you live.  This may mean you teach early in the morning or late at night.


There are multiple companies that will help you teach online in China. Every company has advantages and disadvantages. You have to choose the company that has the highest hourly rate, supports you well, allows you to teach with your level of qualifications.

The most popular companies that help English teachers to conduct online courses are

  • Teach Away
  • Qkids

Teach Away


Teach away is not a tutoring company but more a portal where you can find out information about teaching English online and find who currently has jobs.  They have information on where you can get your TEFL certificate as well.



The VIPKID platform helps you to teach English online to Chinese K-9 students. It features an irregular schedule with maximum flexibility. They have contract length is 6 months for workers but this can be renewed if you do good work.

The requirements you have to fulfill for this job are:

  • Bachelor’s Degree (or higher)
  • At least one year of teaching experience
  • Eligibility to work in the United States or Canada
  • Laptop and headset
  • High-speed internet connection

IMPORTANT NOTE: They only accept people who live in the USA and Canada.

In terms of the hourly rate, compensation is between $14 and $22 per hour. This company also offers the possibility to earn more through bonuses and referral programs.

If you are interested in working with VIPKID, you can apply here.



Qkids connects online English teachers with over half a million Chinese students aged 4 to 12.

The standards you have to meet to work with Qkids are:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
  • Associate/2-year Diploma
  • Eligible to work in the United States or Canada
  • Teaching license or TEFL certificate
  • Computer with a stable internet connection
  • Clear audio-video capabilities
  • Minimum 6 hours/week

IMPORTANT NOTE: They only accept people who live in the USA and Canada.

The base rate is $16 per hour. One hour includes two lessons. To earn more, you must be eligible for attendance and performance bonuses. The hourly rate can go up to $20 if you fulfill all the requirements for bonuses.

Background check

According to the latest requirements issued by the Chinese government, every teacher that conducts online courses must go through a background check.

The background check will mean you collecting the following documents:

  • Criminal Record Check
  • Proof of Address
  • Proof of ID

Make sure you have all the documents prepared in order to avoid unnecessary delays when signing up to teach English online.


Teaching foreign students can be a tricky task. You should follow some general guidelines to make sure you succeed during your online teaching experience. Some of the most important aspects you should take into consideration when teaching online are:

  • Cultural difference
  • Non-verbal language
  • Language barrier

Cultural Difference

The students you are teaching might be very different in terms of culture. For example, if you are working with Chinese students, you will definitely notice that they have a strong culture.

It is a great idea to conduct a cultural analysis prior to starting teaching online in China. Websites that help you develop cultural awareness are great. Knowing some basic facts about their culture represents an advantage whenever you are working with foreign students.

When it comes to cultural differences, Chinese students have some specific traits such as:

  • Focus on education
  • Discipline during classes
  • Importance of holidays
  • And more.

You can learn more about cultural differences in China by reading this article: Cultural Differences: Chinese Students & The Online ESL Classroom

Non-Verbal Language

It is very important to adapt your body language and to make sure you avoid misunderstandings. Children are keen observers of facial expressions, tone of voice, and overall body language.  This is even more important when they are learning a new language as they are trying to guess what you want and are trying to explain.

When dealing with children the most important thing to do is try to be as expressive as you can be with your face and body language.  It lifts the mood of the room and engages the students.  Make sure you always smile at the entrance to a class and when you finish.

Make sure you are being professional when teaching online which means that you should behave and speak in a manner that portrays confidence while putting your audience at ease.

Language Barrier

If your students are taking their first English you will obviously encounter some communication issues. They will not be able to understand you perfectly. Depending on their previous knowledge some students may not be able to understand you at all.

The language barrier may appear even when working with advanced students. Sometimes, the students may switch back to their native language when they have to communicate with each other.

You can overcome this issue by having a basic knowledge of their native language. It is a great idea to use a conversational dictionary to deal with such situations.  It also helps to set a couple of rules for the class when they have problems like drawing a picture or using a language dictionary themselves.  Google translate is obviously your friend here and a useful ally.


Here are some useful tips and tricks for teaching your first session of English online.

Always Be On Time

Chinese people are very punctual. If you miss a class as a teacher you will end up in trouble. The most important aspect of missing a scheduled class is that your students will lose precious learning time.

The company you are working with may take measures against you with most having rules around when they let teachers go. They may find you or give you fewer scheduled lessons.

If you are usually punctual and you do not encounter any scheduling issues during each teaching period, you might earn bonuses. Take a look at your company’s terms and conditions.

Be Friendly

This is a double-edged sword. Being too friendly, you will end up not being able to conduct a disciplined lesson. If you are too strict and serious the students will not enjoy learning from you.

Depending on the age group of the students you are dealing with you will obviously have to change your approach to teaching the class.  If you are teaching young children as many visual teaching aids is important.  Where if you are teaching older students you will need to engage them verbally with their current areas of interest like movies and tv.

During the first online classes, you won’t be a perfect teacher but you will get into the rhythm of it quite quickly. The important thing is to take a few minutes after each class to write down what you did right and what you did wrong and think of how you can do better in your next class.

Have Props

You can enhance your class participation using helpful props. For example, having a whiteboard and some brightly colored markers will draw the attention of your students.

Another great idea is to prepare pronunciation audio files that will help them understand how to pronounce different complex words. Make sure you are using an audio file that is supported by most of the audio players.

If you are not an audio expert, you might want to consider reading this article: Editing Audio: Sound Like A Pro In A Screencast. It will definitely help you create amazing audio training content for your students.

Making sure you check your background on video is very important. Remove any objects that may draw the attention of your students during your online lessons.

Use Active Listening Skills

If you are already a teacher you probably do this already but if you have never taught before it is a good habit to get used to.  From the moment you greet your students you are constantly using your active listening skills to check for understanding.

These Active Listening Skills are:

  • Pay Attention
  • Show You Are Listening
  • Check for Understanding
    • Paraphrase
    • Use Open-Ended Questions
    • Use Similar Scenarios
    • Ask Students To Put It In Their Own Words
  • Wait For Responses
  • Be Patient
  • Summarise

Set Rules

Rules are very important regardless of what you are teaching as it helps set the expectations for the class. This is the same no matter whether you are teaching in a real classroom or online.

Example Rules:

  • Chatting (audio/text)
  • Be ready to join the class at certain hours
  • Muting their microphone to avoid unwanted background noise
  • How to ask for help
  • and more.

There are many rules that will enhance the online course experience. You just have to find out what works best for you and your students. The rules may differ from one class to another as students may be very different in terms of personality, age, and skill level.

Feedback Is Your Friend

As with teaching any new subject or class, you will not be able to do things perfectly on the first try. This is why feedback is your best friend during online classes.

It is a great idea to ask your students for short feedback at the end of every scheduled meeting.

The feedback survey should contain the following questions:

  • What was the best part of today’s lesson?
  • What was the worst part of this meeting?
  • What did you learn during this class?
  • Was the teacher fun and engaging?
  • How much did you understand??

The tutoring company you are working through will do this but having some simple questions you ask at the end of each session is a great way to become a better teacher and to understand this particular group’s needs.

Support When Teaching TEFL Online

There are many communities that will help you when teaching initially online and since it can be a very isolating job as a community for you to be part of.

Some of the places you can find these groups are:

  • Facebook Groups – search for TEFL or Teaching Online
  • LinkedIn Groups – search as above
  • Tutor Company Forums
  • Reddit & Quora

For example, you can take a look at this article: A Guide To Teaching English Online To Chinese Students. On the Internet, you can find many tips and tricks for teaching online. One good place to start your research is this article: 15 practical tips for teaching your first online class

Glen Brown

I am a Technical Trainer and Manager with over 20 years experience in IT, Education and Business. I have multiple qualifications on each topic including post graduate qualifications. I have a passion for sharing knowledge and using technology to do this. If you would like to know more about me please see the about page of the website.

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