The 4 Best TEFL Courses in China

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Considering a TEFL course in China?

When you do your certification in China you’ll experience an exciting mix of culture and tradition at every turn. Each city offers its own diverse experience, whether that be vibrant bustling streets or famed waterfront promenades.

Plus if your plan is to teach in China after completing your TEFL course, many of the providers here offer support within the local job market, helping to make your job hunt that much less stressful. If you plan on teaching elsewhere in the world, the international accredited certificates work just as well outside of China and most of the course providers will guide you through this process as well.

Related: Teaching Terminology: What Do ESL, TEFL, TESOL, EFL, CELTA, DELTA Mean?

The following guide breaks down the various TEFL certifications in China to help you choose a program that will best suit you and help to land that dream ESL teaching job!

How We Evaluated the China TEFL Courses

Curriculum – we have read up on the modules each TEFL program offers to ensure they provide a curriculum that will prepare you well for your teaching career.

Support – we have looked at the support provided by each TEFL program. We believe good support during your teaching training is crucial to your success as an ESL teacher.

Reputation – each TEFL program will be evaluated on the above and the overall package they provide. It’s essential that you receive the best TEFL experience China has to offer!

In a hurry? Here are our top 2:

Best Budget TEFL in China: Teacher Link

Based in Shanghai, Teacher Link’s TEFL course offers real life teaching experience to both adults and children, fully preparing you for life as an ESL teacher.

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Best Overall TEFL in China: CELTA through Language Link China

If a CELTA is what you’re after, look no further than Language Link. Based in Beijing and Shanghai, this is the first and biggest Cambridge accredited teacher training center in China. They provide a 4 week internationally recognized CELTA course, offering early bird discounts up to 6 months before courses start.

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Here are the rest:

The Top TEFL Certificates in China

ITTT

ITTT has four training centers across China (Shanghai, Beijing, Zhuhai and Chongqing) all offering a range of options for those looking to take a TEFL course in this unique country. They have been providing TEFL courses since the 1990s and are accredited through Fairmont State University. They’re well placed to provide the latest information on the local job market as well as life long job placement guidance.

Curriculum – The course is divided into 6 main areas; teaching practice; foreign language experience (to reflect on the experience of being a learner); language awareness (grammar and phonology focus); student profile (working with an individual student); teaching techniques (from classroom management to reading and writing skills); materials project (creating a set of materials).

SupportITTT’s website states that its courses are taught by highly qualified TEFL professionals with many years of experience, both in teaching and training. They’re all active TEFL teachers themselves so are fully aware of the issues faced in the classroom, making them sensitive and supportive to the needs of the trainees.

Reputation – The reviews are pretty good, with former students meriting the organization of the course and feeling that the variety of schools and different age groups taught during the program prepared them well for post-course teaching.

Course Details

  • Location: Shanghai, Beijing, Zhuhai and Chongqing
  • Time commitment: 4 weeks, 120 hours (Chongqing is 3 weeks)
  • Observed teaching hours: 6 – 10 hours
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: Beijing – $1,690; Shanghai – the course is being updated so isn’t currently available; Zhuhai – $1,590; Chongqing – $1,490.
  • Housing: not included, but the school can recommend accommodation.
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but you receive lifelong job placement guidance

The Good

  • You can pick between the hustle-and-bustle of Beijing, the prosperous and popular city of Shanghai, being by the coast in Zhuhai or the thriving city of Chongqing.
  • Taking part in several practical teaching sessions with real students to help develop your teaching skills even further.

The Bad

  • Some former students found that there was less support in place for lesson planning.

Best for: Students wanting to gain certification from a well established TEFL company that has been in the industry for over two decades.

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ITTO

ITTO (the International Teacher Training Organization) is part of an exclusive educational network with different partner institutions around the world. With many years of experience in the ESL industry, their TEFL course in Shanghai is accredited through Fort Hays State University (FHSU) and ACCREDITAT.

Curriculum – 30 hours of teaching techniques (ranging from reading and writing skills to classroom management); 10 hours of grammar input; 10 hours of phonology; 14 hours of student profiling (working with individual students to build rapport and addressing individual student needs); 10 hours of materials project (developing teaching materials); 3 hours of observing experienced teachers; 1 hour of observing a professionally developed video; 20 hours of peer observation; 6 hours of individual teaching practice; critical reflection (completing a daily learning journal).

Support – The program staff are reviewed as giving relevant and constructive feedback on practice teaching, as well as providing good support with assignments and lesson preparation, giving advice and help when needed.

Reputation – Former students say that the thoroughness of the course provided them with the skills and tools to be able to confidently prepare and teach lessons post-completion of the program.  

Course Details

  • Location: Shanghai
  • Time commitment: 4 weeks, 120 hours
  • Observed teaching hours: 6 hours
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: $1,490 (they currently have a $200 discount – the regular price is $1,690)
  • Housing: the school can help to arrange accommodation at an additional price.
  • Guaranteed job placement: yes, as long as you have a degree. Without a degree, you receive lifelong job placement assistance.

The Good

  • Small class sizes, usually between 4 and 10 students (the number can go up in the summer).
  • As alumni, you are offered the opportunity to help out with the current trainees by attending their observed teaching practice to give feedback (useful for both alumni and current trainees).

The Bad

  • Some course takers felt the course materials and job search resources were a bit outdated.

Best for: First time teachers who have no prior teaching experience.

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Teacher Link

Teacher Link is an internationally accredited TEFL course which results in a notarized and Chinese consulate authenticated certificate. Their teaching practice is with real students, including one-on-one sessions and small and large classes of both adults and children. Their parent company, Teaching Nomad, is one of the leading recruiters in China, assisting with job placement after the course.

Curriculum – The curriculum is similar to ITTO’s course: 30 hours of teaching techniques, ranging from reading and writing skills to classroom management); 10 hours of grammar input; 10 hours of phonology; 14 hours of student profiling (working with individual students to build rapport and addressing individual student needs); 10 hours of materials project (developing teaching materials); 3 hours of observing experienced teachers; 1 hour of observing a professionally developed video; 20 hours of peer observation; 6 hours of individual teaching practice; critical reflection (completing a daily learning journal).

Support – From lesson planning to actual teaching, guidance and support is given to make sure each teaching practice is a learning experience. Feedback is constructive, with tips and advice on how to improve. Even with the larger class sizes (sometimes up to 50 students), experienced teachers are on hand to make trainees feel at ease. On top of this, they provide support for getting settled in a new country.

Reputation – The reviews for this TEFL course are generally really good, with many former students feeling confident and well prepared for the teaching world, especially when it comes to different teaching styles and classroom management, and how to put these into practice. The course is also praised for its balance of theory and practice.

Course Details

  • Location: Shanghai
  • Time commitment: 4 weeks, 120 hours
  • Observed teaching hours: 6 hours
  • Rigor score: 7/10
  • Price: $1,490 (without accommodation)
  • Housing: you can opt to pay for the course with accommodation included ($1,850 for a shared room or $1,990 for a single room).
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but you receive full job placement assistance through Teaching Nomad, one of the largest placement agencies in Asia.

The Good

  • Real life teaching experience, including teaching practice at low-income primary schools on the outskirts of Shanghai.
  • Requires applicants to learn a second language in order to fully become aware of the difficulties non-native speakers face when learning a second language!

The Bad

  • Some former students state that the course was at the higher end of the intensive scale, particularly when thrown in the deep end with real-life classes. Although for many, this was the biggest plus.  

Best for: Students who want real-life teaching experience. Exposure to public schools and getting teaching practice in front of real classes, with a range of class sizes and age groups, provides great teacher-readiness.

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Language Link

Based in Beijing and Shanghai, Language Link is the first and biggest Cambridge accredited teacher training center in China. The CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is widely recognized within the ESL community as being one of the most prestigious and rigorous TEFL qualifications, due to it being strictly regulated by Cambridge University.

Choosing a CELTA course is highly recommended if you plan on making ESL teaching your career, as many high-end schools and language academies won’t accept any less.

Curriculum – There are five main assignment focus areas; the teaching and learning context; language analysis and awareness; language skills (reading, writing, speaking and listening); planning and resources for different contexts; developing teaching skills and professionalism. There is also 6 hours of observed teaching practice, completion of 4 written assignments and the maintenance and completion of a coursework portfolio. CELTA’s rigorous program expects trainees to spend at least 3 hours per evening on lesson preparation, homework, research, reading and writing assignments. Brushing up on your grammar pre-course is also expected.

Support – Language Link is run by a team of highly experienced teacher trainers who provide a professional training approach. The course prides itself on creating a relaxed and comfortable learning environment while remaining academically sound.

Reputation – As the leading credential for ESL teachers, the CELTA course is highly regarded. Language Link’s CELTA qualification is recognized by reputable organizations worldwide, including the Ministry of Education of PR China, the British Council and the European Union.

Course Details

  • Location: Beijing and Shanghai
  • Time commitment: 4 weeks, 120 hours
  • Observed teaching hours: 6 hours
  • Rigor score: 9/10
  • Price: $2000 (early bird discounts – $150 up to 6 months before the course; $100 up to 4 months before the course; $75 up to 3 months before the course)
  • Housing: not included.
  • Guaranteed job placement: no, but Language Link gives preference to its own graduates and normally has teaching positions available.

The Good

  • Being CELTA qualified is considered one of the best qualifications an ESL teacher can have and it opens the door to a huge range of job prospects.
  • You can choose between China’s sprawling capital of Beijing or the mega-city of Shanghai, each offering a diverse and cultural experience in this fascinating country.

The Bad

  • You will be busy. Your evenings and weekends will be taken over by lesson planning and homework, so you won’t have much time to explore China during the program.
  • It’s an incredibly intensive and hard course – one missed day can lead to failure. You need to be prepared to work for it.

Best for: Students who know they want to make a career out of teaching English abroad and have access to a larger job market, both in China and worldwide.

More Information >

Conclusion

Choosing a TEFL provider comes down to individual preferences and isn’t a decision to rush into. It’s important to figure out what your own priorities lie when it comes to a budget, the curriculum or the certificate you walk away with. A high price does not always mean high quality, so make sure to read up on reviews, find out what former students have to say and where they have accepted jobs.

We hope this guide offers an insight into the various TEFL/CELTA courses China has to offer and helps you to pick one that best suits you and your future teaching career. Good luck!