What Is a Chinese Training Center and Should You Work at One?


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China has long had an insatiable thirst for English learning and is one of the leading employers of ESL teachers in the world.  Many of these teachers work at training centers, or schools designed specifically to teach English as opposed to other subjects.  Because these Chinese training centers operate differently than traditional schools, we wanted to take a look at the specifics to help future teachers evaluate if they were a good fit.

Interested in teaching in China?  Check out our massive guide to getting hired or start browsing TEFL jobs in China.

What Exactly Is a Training Center?

A training center is a school with the sole goal of providing English lessons to children and adults – they typically have fewer classrooms than a normal school and hold most of their classes when regular schools are not in session (think nights and weekends).  Two of the biggest training centers are run by EF and Wall Street English and have hundreds of locations all over China, usually in populated areas like malls and shopping centers.

Training centers are extremely popular for students because they often offer superior English education when compared to Chinese public schools – they almost always employ native English speakers and use curriculum that is much better than the average school.  In addition, the fact that they operate outside of normal school hours means students can get extra help without sacrificing other subjects.

Most training centers in China employ 3-10 foreign teachers and have small classes with typically between 3 to 10 students at a time.  Modern training centers in large tier 1 cities are typically very well equipped with the students utilizing tablets and the teachers working with smart boards.

What Are the Students Like at a Training Center?

Training centers aren’t cheap and the majority of students need to be quite well off in order to afford classes.  With that being said, affluence does not go hand in hand with well-behaved you’ll be hard-pressed to find a teacher that doesn’t have a few stories to tell about a rowdy student.  Also, because most classes occur after school, many students will either be tired or distracted by other assignments, which can impact their class performance.

The flip side of this is that you will likely have some extremely dedicated and motivated students – kids that want to learn more after regular school can be a pleasure to teach and advance quickly due to their drive.

Finally, most training centers also have quite a few adult classes towards the end of the night – these are always desirable groups to teach due to their English abilities and drive to learn.

Teaching Hours at an English Training Center

As previously mentioned, one of the biggest downsides to working at a training center is the schedule – classes begin late in the afternoon and go until evening during the week and can go all day on Saturday and Sunday. In addition to regular classes, many students also request tutoring, which can take even more time but is optional for teachers and can increase your pay.

Do not expect to have weekends off when working for a training center, instead try to ensure you get 2 days back to back.  These will become your new weekend as most teachers report being exhausted after a full Saturday and Sunday of teaching.

How Much do Training Centers Pay?

The average training center pays 15,000-25,000 RMB for 20-25 hours of teaching (this is for a tier 1 city).  There will be additional duties on top of that like marketing and office hours, but most contracts will not exceed 30 hours total.

One good aspect of working at a center is the abundance of bonuses – teachers are often rewarded for everything from student retention to new students gained.  in addition, there is usually ample room for advancement for teachers with experience – most established training centers offer raises and promotions to teachers who renew their contract or get hired with proven experience.

Is Working at a Training Center in China Right for You?

If you don’t mind the schedule or the hours, I personally think that training centers are a great job for first-time or inexperienced teachers in China.  Reputable companies like EF and Wall Street offer significant training and onboarding to ensure your arrival in China goes smoothly and you will almost certainly have an established group of coworkers with whom to socialize when you arrive.

Related: What It’s Like Teaching in Beijing

On the flip side, if you aren’t keen to work on the weekends, are looking for a job that pays extremely well, or want to work in a traditional school then a training center isn’t for you.

Finally, if you have a decent amount of experience and don’t need much in-country support, there are more prestigious jobs out there that pay better and offer an equal amount of upward mobility.  This is not meant as a slight to current training center teachers but veteran teachers have expressed that they were not challenged when working for a training center and often went on to find another position.


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25 Responses

  1. I got an offer from Beile Training School, have you heard of it?
    I haven’t accepted because I’m trying to do my research, but it can be hard.

    1. My weekdays usually comprise of 2 hours of preparation and a maximum of four 40 minute lessons. Weekends are demanding, and in my branch all of the teachers deliver 10 lessons with the last period being left free for potential outdoor and group activities-mainly for marketing purposes.

        1. It could be giving demos to potential students, helping with promotional events near the school location, recording videos to help attract students on social media, things like that.

    2. Do teachers at training centers in china get the summer and winter vacations like ones from public schools?

      1. Yes, but they are shorter as summer and winter breaks are the peak times for training centers and most will run ‘intensive’ programs where teachers will work more but make a lot more money, too.

  2. Hi there. how many off days does the average ESL teacher get per year while working in a training center.

    1. Depends on the training center + public holidays but in general, you’ll get 2 days off per week, 5-10 holidays throughout the year, 1 week for summer break and 1 week for winter. Again, this is a generalization – some places will give you a bigger winter break for Chinese New Year and others won’t give you any summertime off – you should check your contract for specifics.

  3. Hi I’ve been offered a job at Taizhou hengming foreign language education and training centre, they say they a branch of kiddie English, have you heard of this training centre?

    1. Hi Moe, we’ve heard of Kiddie English but there are 1000s of training centers in China so we can’t get much more specific.

  4. Hey there! I got an offer from a training center, but they are only giving me a day off. I am still thinking about it. I don’t know if I should accept it or not, could you pls give me an advice

    1. In our personal opinion, 1 day off is not a good offer – there are lots of training centers out there offering 2 days or more so unless the salary is really high Id keep looking.

  5. Hi,is it normal that a training center send their teachers to teach at another school (e. g. kindergartens)?

    1. No, the address of the school you were hired by should be in your contract and I believe that is the only location you are legally able to teach at.

      1. Ok, and is it normal that they send their teachers to other branches of the same training center? If is not, what can a foreigner can do in this situation?

        1. If your contract lists only 1 training center address then you need to decide if this is worth fighting over. If it is, then I suggest bringing it up to your school and letting them know you only feel comfortable working at the location you signed up for. Have you spoken to them about it yet?

  6. Yeah…sadly to say if any native speaker accepts 10,000元 for a 25 hours a work is a fool. If you never taught in China before never accept a salary like this. Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou are all first teir cities. You can easily get paid 30,000元 a month if you are willing to find the right job. Never and I mean never look for a job unless you are physically in China. Training Centers are more demanding and very tiring. If you are willing to have a few interviews at kindergartens in China you can find one that will pay you 25,000元 a month. You will work 8am to 5pm with a 2 hour break form 12:00 to 2:00pm. Most meetings will happen during this time and lunch is provided. On top of that weekends off!!Also if you’re a native speak request housing to be provided and paid for by your employer. Also, ask for health insurance as well…legally, health insurance must be provided to the employee, but companies will try to avoid giving it to you if you don’t ask for it.

  7. Hello Quincy Smith,

    I have a question regarding “20-25 hours of teaching”. Are these academic hours, 45 min long, it would result in 10 to 13 two-hour classes/week? or regular hours, which would make it 13 to 16 two-hour classes/week? And is that question regulated by the government and if yes, where can I read about it? If you have a reference on a Chinese website I would appreciate it

    Evgenii Panchuk

    1. Training center hours are not regulated by the government but should be specified in your contract. Each training center is different – some might do 30min classes (like with young learners), others might use 45min or 2hr – this post is a generalization based on our experience in China.

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