Teaching English in Shanghai

Shanghai is possibly the number one destination in the East (if not the world) to teach English, and it’s an ideal place for a TEFL teacher to begin their China odyssey.   The city has developed into a slick, modern metropolis with a very western shell and a very eastern core. Its colourful colonial past sits quite comfortably with its grand commercial plans for the future, and its 14 million inhabitants seem hungrier than ever for financial success.

This is all rather new to westerners who find it both strangely familiar yet curiously different; massive skyscrapers sit comfortably next to delicate Chinese temples and noodle shops, and rickshaw drivers ply their trade while multi-lane roads snake thousands of motorists through the impressive sky-ways and by-ways.

With regards to lifestyle, the city doesn’t disappoint either. One must-see area that sums upShanghaiis the famous Xin Tien Di district.  This part of town is a classic example of howShanghaihas tried to preserve its cultural past amidst the frantic pace of modern living. Here you will find buildings that retain their historic integrity juxtaposed against the futuristic skyline.  Some of the coolest restaurants, bars and cafes in the entire city lie within this area, and for a westerner, unaccustomed to this fusion of new and ancient Chinese life, it can be a very rewarding experience.

Teaching English in Shanghai

Teaching English in Shanghai wouldn’t have been a great experience 5 years ago, but today it offers so much more.  The Chinese are defining a new future for themselves, and Shanghai is their vision of city life in the 21st century.  Everything seems new, and that which does not seems well maintained.  The town is proud of its achievements, but there is no time for resting on one’s laurels.  The Shanghainese are keen to advance and one popular way of doing so is to learn English.  It seems like a city-wide obsession to have some grasp of English these days and (in true Chinese fashion) hard work and discipline will bring the prize they seek.   This makes the demand for English teachers higher than ever, and pay scales are reaching levels that make many in the industry stop and look.  Add to that the opportunity to immerse oneself in Chinese culture while still living in a very western-like environment and you can see why Shanghai is becoming such an attractive option.

However, competition for teaching work can be quite intense in the city, and the really high paying work will not automatically fall at your feet, especially if you’re a new TEFL teacher. But salaries are among the best in all of Asia and can provide even fresh teachers with a comfortable lifestyle.  Monthly income can vary from around 9,000 to 15,000 RMB (approx 1,500 to 2,500US).  It is also common for schools to provide teachers with free (or subsidized) accommodation.  This is sometimes a shared apartment, usually with another teacher. Other common benefits are a flight allowance, medical insurance, language lessons, performance bonuses, and a generous holiday package.

There are many positions available in shanghai, but as with any industry, the best jobs are usually taken by experienced, dedicated workers.  If you want to work in this town there is a lot on offer, but you’ll have to become established and show your employers what you can do.   This city offers a wonderful opportunity to do just that.  Show your worth here and you will be rewarded with an excellent career in an industry that shows no signs of slowing.

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