Taking on Students for Private Tutoring in China

Posted by | 2014-10-23 | Working in China

Perhaps one of the most asked question of all time when you check out forums on teaching English in China is whether one should pick up private students and teach them at home in China. Although the question seems easy enough and perhaps you may have heard of instances when an expat pulls this off flawlessly or may have seen it in a movie, the truth is, private tutoring in China can be more of a problem especially if you do not have the right type of visa.

Most private tutors in China belong to two categories, those who are allowed to teach English, and those who are not allowed to teach English in China. Let’s take a deeper look on the two categories, shall we?

Who Is Allowed to Teach English in China?

Technically speaking, if you are an expat, only someone who holds a Z visa or a Foreign Expert’s Certificate is permitted to teach English in China. This permission is typically obtained because the individual is employed by a legitimate company or institution offering English services. Under this category, an employer may or may not allow the English teacher to seek other sources of income.

English teachers who have the non-exclusivity clause in their contracts are allowed to take on private students for one on one tutorials as freelance English teachers. The number of students may be more but it should be within what is legally allowed and not resembling formal classes unless the teacher has established his or her own school.

A problem that can arise from this is if the English teacher’s contract with his or her registered employer says that all forms of teaching should be exclusively done only for the employer’s company or if the tutorial sessions are operating like an unlicensed or unregistered school.

For those who do not have a Z visa, non-commercial tutoring will not pose a problem, such as tutoring a friend. However, it is better to simply abide by Chinese laws and regulations and get a Z visa to not get into trouble. Some small companies may take advantage of tourists or expats and lure them into teaching for the small companies but this places the tutor at risk since if the company decides to not pay them, they cannot report about it otherwise they would risk getting arrested, fined, and deported; perhaps even banned from procuring future visas.

Who Is Not Allowed to Teach English in China?

The answer to this one is simple. If you do not have a Z Visa or a Foreign Expert’s Certificate as your work permit, don’t even think or try of advertising tutorial services. While it is true that a lot of individuals have not been caught illegally working in China, it is also true that a lot of ESL teachers has been caught, arrested, fined, and deported.

Please note that as earlier stated, freelance English teaching in China will not pose a problem as long as you have the right visa and is complying with the terms in your contract with your registered employer. Once you have checked that you are all clear to conduct tutorial classes or seek extra employment opportunities, only your resourcefulness is the limit as to how much extra income you can make as a part-time freelance English teacher.

Want to know more about the Do’s and Don’t’s of being a freelance English teacher in China? You may get more information at Teach in China and looking for China expat forums focused on the city or region you want to be at. Be open for possibilities, but be responsible to check possible consequences first. Happy English teaching!


Article by Dianne

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