If you’re considering applying for a long-term teaching placement in China, you might be wondering which kind of school to choose; state or private. While the job is essentially the same in both school types, working conditions, expectations and level of training differ. When it comes to deciding between the two, it’s important you do your research. To help you out, we’ve put together our top 5 reasons you should work at a Chinese state school.


#1 Independence

Although state schools provide their foreign teachers with basic teaching materials and a curriculum, teachers are largely responsible for planning and delivering their lessons in a way they see fit. This independence is a great advantage for those looking to try out new ideas in the classroom and use their creative flair to deliver fun and engaging lessons.

The flexibility teachers have in deciding what they teach also helps increase motivation and encourage good behaviour among students. In turn, this helps to create a good atmosphere in the classroom. Not only does this benefit your students, it also helps you develop new transferable skills and experience useful to any industry.

#2 Choice 

Chinese citizens are all entitled to state funded education, so countless state schools can be found in all towns and cities across the country. As English education becomes increasingly important, more and more of these are looking to employ foreign English teachers. This means that anyone looking for a state school placement has a huge variety of schools and areas to choose from!

State schools tend to be divided into kindergarten, primary, middle and high school and university and therefore employ teachers to teach only one of these groups. This enables teachers to decide which age group they wish to teach and ensures there won’t be any hopping between levels, which is particularly good for those who know which age group they wish to teach.

#3 Cultural immersion

State school placements not only give teachers the chance to gain a fascinating insight into one of the world’s most revered education systems, but also to interact with and work alongside local people from various walks of life and backgrounds.

In contrast to private language schools, each state school typically employs only a few foreign teachers each year. Though there are usually many foreign teachers in Chinese cities to socialise with, teachers on state school placements get the chance to truly immerse themselves in the culture whilst at work – and maybe even learn some Mandarin!

For most people, going to China is all about experiencing a new culture and way of life – what better way to do this than by working in a state school?

activities for Primary ESL classes

#4 Range of students

The cost of private tuition means that language institutes tend to attract students from more advantaged families, who perhaps have a lot of exposure to English and foreign travel. In contrast, state schools are free for all, meaning that students come from various social and economic backgrounds and many of them are unlikely to have ever seen a foreigner before!

A state school placement gives teachers the chance to make a real difference to the education and lives of a wide range of students, which is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding parts of the job!

#5 More free time

Much like in the UK, state schools in China run to a certain schedule all over the country, meaning that the days and terms are very structured. Teachers are issued a weekly timetable that applies throughout the school year and there is rarely any deviation from this. Foreign teachers are expected to teach 15-25 hours per week on Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm and both students and teachers have the weekends off.

Two long school holidays take place each year; one in January/February to celebrate Spring Festival and the other during July/August at the end of the school year. Combined with the various national holidays that take place throughout the year, state school teachers can receive up to 11 weeks holiday in total per year! The perfect chance to explore more of China, or even Asia!

While state school placements can be challenging, they offer an unrivalled insight into a culture and education system like no other, culminating in an unforgettable and rewarding experience.

We accept applications for our TEFL Training and State School Teaching Programmes on an ongoing basis. Get in touch or apply now to get started.