When you arrive you will be provided with accommodations until your apartment is set up (up to a week). Generally it is in a hotel, an apartment style hotel or weekly furnished residence.
Teacher’s get to choose their apartment. Of course we try to help, you can see what other teachers have chosen or what they recommend, but in the end we are just supporting, translating and helping you get into the apartment that you want.
These example teacher apartments (below) cost around 2500 RMB per month. If you want something in a more posh area or you want a number of rooms, then the price goes higher. Larger cities, like Beijing, would be more but also have more options for foreign teachers and for sharing.
Although teachers can stay where they like, most teachers get a single apartment and stay close to the other teachers as the other teachers generally know the area well (can show them all the best spots) and it just makes for an easier start.
Q: ”So do you all stay in a single apartment? What is the rent like?”
A1: “My rent is 400ish USD (around 320 after housing allowance) for one month, but I definitely think that's on the high end of things”
A2: ”Mines on the upper end too - 2700 per month, 1700 after our housing allowance, which ends up as 350ish Canadian.
“a weird thing about China is you pay rent 3 months in advance, every 3 months. Which was shocking to be when I first got here, but it's 100% manageable after you've been here for the first 3 months & are able to save up the money from your paychecks.
I've found it easy to save up money in China. Even with the rent situation I do send money home every month. If I didn’t, it would be easy.”
Q: “So, roughly, $1,200 - $1,600 up front?”
A: “Yeah. Honestly, it's quite a bit of money, but even if you can't pay in full when you first arrive, M.E.F. can probably lend you the money until you are financially secure. That is what happened in my case, at least.”
A: “I have to admit I laughed a little at the 3 months upfront only because three months up front for an apartment there barely covers 1 month for an average place here in Toronto”
Q: “I have a couple more questions about the apartment themselves. I’m guessing there furnished but what a bit kitchen stuff? Like plates, cookware, cutlery, etc?”
A: “It depends on the apartment you move into, but you'll most likely have to buy some kitchen things. I had to buy pretty much everything, where as some of the teachers already had like, tea kettles & hot plates that the last tenants left behind”
A: “Usually the bed, sofa, table, and ac are included. Apartment cleanliness is hit or miss. Depends more on who the last tenant was”
Q: “I was also wondering if you guys already checked around for other apartments and decided that the one you're at is the best? Or if there are other good options that you simply turned down?”
A: “We all were shown apartments in our block and we picked the one we wanted. I’m sure you can look in other places though.”
China holds a history going back 5,000 years. Whether you want to learn Mandarin, history, travel the world or be a part of the future, China is the place you want to be. China has long been looked at as third world by the west through the media and views of communism.
After spending time in China, people will clearly tell you that it is far from that. In many ways, China’s development exceeds the west and is safer than most American cities. It is the new land of opportunity and exciting exploration.
No, you do not need to speak Chinese in order to teach in China with us. The classroom environment is 100% English only. However, we encourage our teachers to learn some Chinese if they are interested in doing so. It is quite useful in everyday life. There will be many opportunities to practice Chinese in the cities where we teach. We will be able to help you with find lessons and resources for learning quickly. To start, one popular study site is www.chinesepod.com. Depending on the interest of teachers, some locations also set up Chinese lesson groups for the teachers.
“You'll pick up the basics really quickly. So don't fret too much over language before coming over.”
Q: “Do you all speak Mandarin now? Lol, I guess I'm asking, how much do you need to know in order to get around, live, etc.? And I guess also, how many of you that haven't left yet are learning Mandarin or already know it...?”
A: “Of the teachers, I probably know the most Mandarin and I know very little. I have enough to order food, do some shopping, and tell a taxi driver where my home is.”
“I learned everything here in China, so don't stress over becoming a master linguist before coming. You will learn the necessities quickly. Of course if you are fluent your life here will be so easy. But the required language level is quite low.”
A: “You'll run into some inconvenience not knowing Mandarin of course but you can get by comfortably with little knowledge.”
There is only one currency inside the mainland. RMB, REMINBI, YUAN, KUAI; these are all basically the same thing.
This really depends on the lifestyle you live. As accommodations are provided, Chinese locals live off an average 2500 RMB per month, which means eating local food (rice, noodles, vegetables, fruit), western food once and a while, a foot massage here and there, taking a taxi when you need it, etc. The average foreigner can live a comfortable life with 6000 RMB, but if you are into designer shopping or want to drive a nice car, send your children to international schools, etc. then you would need a lot more. Compared to cities like Shanghai, Beijing or Guangzhou, the money goes much further.
Q: Does M.E.F. pay for the initial flight over? Or give us any kind of allowance for that or is it just on us
A: You pay it and then after you’ve been in China for six months they reimburse you 6,000 RMB which is generally much more than what you pay for a flight.
Q: “I’m also wondering about other expenses like phone, utilities, transit pass...those sort of things. Any info on that would also be wonderful!”
A: “Phone is super cheap, like 30 rmb per month. (So like, 5 dollars usd). Utilities I pay about 150 rmb per month, & public transit is like, 50 rmb per month for me...Probably less than even that.”
A: “Also WIFI is kind of weird because you have to pay for a full year up front...But it's also, like, 600 yuan. Which is roughly 100 usd.”
Q: “How do you pay for re-occuring expenses such as internet, rent, and phone bill? Do you have a credit card or do you show up somewhere and pay cash? Also, are you able to forward funds from China to a personal account back home?”
A: “You pay via wechat. You’ll be shown when you get here”
Q: “Is it true that eating out is extremely cheap? I've seen videos where the guy pays only 7rmb ($1.50) for a drink and some dumplings!”
A: “Yeah that’s true. And fresh fruit is available on every street corner.”
Q: “You mean you can eat-out almost every meal and it won't drain your income?”
A: “Thats how I live lol. If you get a full time school they’ll feed you three meals a day too.”
Each area has slightly different tax rates and ways they calculate. In China, generally the employer covers a portion of the taxes and the employee is also required to cover a portion (you will need to pay some money for taxes). Salary taxes are not super low, but generally less than what needs to be paid in western countries. Health insurance fee payment by the teacher is approximately 200 rmb (20%). Approximate water and electricity is 250 rmb per month. Internet and phone rates depend on the city, but most teachers say the fees are comparitively really cheap.
There are definitely schools out there that offer more. Some are desperate and there are good reasons why they cannot get teachers and need to offer higher salaries. Others post a higher amount with issues of not following their agreement later or have extra expectations/work hours or the position comes with very little support and many unexpected cultural differences which generally would not be acceptable for most teachers. We try to be extremely transparent. There is a range in the salaries we offer depending on the area and the type of contract. Our salary offers a very comfortable life in China. When you keep in mind the cost of living, low apartment expenses, no need for a car, the low cost of traveling and entertainment, etc., the salary easily compares to what new full time teachers make in western countries. Most of our teachers continue with us when they finish their contracts even if they can find other places that offer more money in China. M.E.F. also offers bonus projects for teachers that would like to make some extra money. The projects keep changing, but some examples would be curriculum development, creating city guides, social media support, training support, etc., where teachers can make an extra 1500 to 3,000 RMB+ each month.
Teachers teach a maximum of 30 hours per week.
Schedules are slightly different depending on the school and area. Generally teachers will start work at 8:30 or 9, have classes until around 11:30 or 12, then have classes again from 2:30 or 3pm until 5:30 or 6pm. Some times there is a bigger gap in the afternoon where you can leave and come back, but no one works more than 5 days per week and no one works over 30 hours per week.
Q: What is your schedule like?
A: I work Monday to Friday I start at 8am have a break between 11:30-2:30 and then I finish at 5pm. Occasionally I will work on Saturday or Sunday but only when I have a day off in the week.
When M.E.F. is hiring for multiple locations, will I have a choice in which location I will go to?
We definitely take preferences and try to accommodate to the best of our ability.
For example, some teachers would love to live in a tropical Island like Hainan (Haikou), while other people may feel that it would be too hot.
Some people love the nature of Hangzhou while other people don’t have as much interest. We try our best to match teachers with their preference and also work together with the areas and availability.
This really depends on the kindergarten and the program type. Small group classes maybe 5 to 10 students in a class, where regular kindergarten classes generally have 25 to 30 students in a class.
We definitely train teachers to be able to handle the larger classes and with the M.E.F. system, once teachers get comfortable, the larger class style is generally easier than small group classes.
For the morning/full class program, there is generally around 30 students in each class between the ages of 2.5 to 6. Our teacher is the head and the focus of the children as the teacher directs and teaches the class. Although some homeroom teachers are more helpful than others, each class has a homeroom teacher in there to help with playing music, being the example for games, helping children to participate, handling small or big accidents if they were to happen.
The M.E.F. program has a very well laid out program with a long history. It offers a lot of fun and is easy to get into. It is high energy and comparatively repetitive making it possible for teachers to learn what we do well and see their skills grow quickly. If you have not seen the M.E.F. video, then it is best to go to the main page and watch the video. The M.E.F. core program is what teachers are trained on.
Q: "Do some of you teach only kids and for others its a mix?"
A: "My schedule is a little different from the other M.E.F. teachers...I teach kindergarten, university, & a little bit at a training school....It's been a good experience so far. I think one of my favorite things about being in China is that it has taught me to be 110% more flexible & adaptable."
Q: "I was wondering if out side of teaching the classes, how much paperwork or administrative work is there?"
A: "If you're teaching kindergarten it's a super easy class to plan."
M.E.F. teaches the core training and teachers are expected to also learn from, and adjust what they teach, depending on the kindergarten’s preferences.
The M.E.F. system consists of mainly vocabulary flashcards, songs and dances, games and races, and conversational phrases and goals.
Teachers arrive up to a week before starting the position for training.
Training is broken up into:
Many teachers start without prior experience controlling a kindergarten class, but after a number of classes teachers are usually always able to adapt, get comfortable and enjoy their lessons.
Each schedule is different and it will depend where you decide to live. Generally teachers try to live as close as possible to different kindergartens, but then some teachers also take a preference over being closer to friends or closer to the city, subway, etc. so there is a balance.
Generally teachers should expect to be inside a bus or metro for at least 30 minutes. Some locations might require that you are on public tranportation for 15 to 20 minutes, while others may require around 40 or even 45 minutes on public transit.
Living in a big city any where in the world, one should expect some commuting. Many teachers find this the perfect time to study Chinese.
Generally teachers will not need to travel more than an hour to get to any of their kindergartens. It is a balance though. Usually, if there is a teacher with a school that is farther, we make sure other schools are closer, etc.
Q: "How far is your commute to work everyday?"
A: "I'm about 40mins by bus from my school".
Most are fairly new. Teachers are generally impressed with what kindergarten children in China have available to them.
“All of our facilities are new to the point they are still under some (very last stage) construction. The building are in good shape and everything is in working order. From our experience most staff are extremely helpful.”
“You will need a lot of flexibility with the work schedule as in China they often make changes and inform us (English and Chinese teachers alike) pretty last minute. It's never anything you can't manage. And you will learn how to balance out hard schedules with flexible attitudes.”
The holidays may change depending on the school, but we offer a minimum two weeks paid vacation every year during Chinese Spring Festival, one week paid vacation in October, all Chinese official holidays, and up to four unpaid weeks off for travel.
Usually the unpaid time off happens in the summer, around the Chinese new year or when the students are off and is area specific for areas or schools that generally close the schools for longer holidays. Some teachers prefer to have this extra time off to explore China more, some teachers prefer not to have the unpaid break.
When deciding the area/school we can definitely take the teacher’s preference and most of the time we can align the position with or without such unpaid extra time off.
In China, generally the Chinese do not have the culture of taking time off throughout the year. It is good to remember this. Even if you give enough notice they still do not have the culture of employees taking weeks off during the year. The difference in China is also that the visa does not really allow for substitute teachers (unlike in many western countries). So, it is best not to expect to take time off throughout the year.
Of course everything understands that emergencies happen and if someone was to get sick or hospitalized and you needed to take some time to fly back home, the Chinese would definitely understand and support.
Generally the whole process takes 1 to 2 months.
Teachers must have their Z-Visa before they go to China. We help you to get the Z-Visa. The costs for processing the work permit documents inside China, will be covered by the company. Teachers need to pay the fees for getting documents notarized/authenticated, passport photos, and the fee charged by the Chinese visa processing office in their country when they put the visa in your passport.
First, we will sign a contract with you for the position.
Next, we will send you the details for applying for your work permit:
Copies of these are sent to us by e-mail. (Original documents need to be shown once you arrive in China)
The Work Permit will then be processed in China. (This generally takes a couple weeks)
As this is immigration, police and government, they are always able to request more documents during the process and this can delay the processing time.
Once the work permit documents is ready, we will send it to you by email. Now it has a QR code so it can be printed out and scanned by the Chinese visa office in your country.
Once you receive these, you will visit your nearest China Visa processing office in your country. Most can process the visa as quickly as 24 hours if needed, but the general process is 3 or 4 business days.
The visa processing office will give you a temporary visa (usually it is good for the first month you are inside China). Once you get to China, you will visit the hospital for any further testing needed, and we will bring you to the different government offices in order to apply for the residency permit. The residency permit is good for usually the period of the contract and has multiple entries (you can leave and go back into China during that period).
Note: Like any government visa processes, these can change at any time. This information was updated on February 20th, 2018.
The standard contract will run until the end of the following August. Which means that if you are hired to start September 1st, it would be a 1 year contract. If you are hired to start earlier, in the year, then it would be one year plus a number of months. At the end of the contract, we generally offer new contracts to teachers that have worked well with the company, so long term employment is possible.
Q: “What happens once your contract ends? (Bc it is a 1 year contract, if I'm not mistaken) if you like it, can you renew the contract?
A: (From M.E.F.) We need to review each teacher and how they did, but if everyone is happy with a teacher, there is a very good chance we can renew contracts. The longest teacher with M.E.F. is in his 12th year now.
Q: “Is teaching ESL or school all year round there?
A: ”Pretty much, the kindergarten is open all year round with a couple of weeks here and there off. Some of the schools give more unpaid time off during the summer which is great if you want to travel more.”
Q: “for the flights and start dates, where do we book our flights to/for arrival and what date, as contracted to start Sept 1st?”
A: (From M.E.F.) “Flights are usually booked after teachers confirm the pick up date for their visa. Training also usually takes place in the location were most of the new teachers will be teaching and we set the logistics which work best for everyone. In the case you have training in a different area, the flight to the area of teaching will be paid for you. Everything is usually confirmed closer to the date; after we know when teachers will have their visas.”
When entering or being at kindergartens, all teachers are required to wear the company t-shirts that we provide. In the case it is colder, these t-shirts can go over your own long sleeve shirts. Casual pants, khakis, comfortable sports pants or normal length shorts are all appropriate.
Wearing a suit or dress (unless it is a special event) would be too formal and not appropriate. On the opposite end wearing jeans, short shorts or pants with rips in them would be too casual or inappropriate as well. For women we would strongly advise against wearing a skirt or even dresses while teaching.
A: When I'm teaching my MEF kindergarten classes, I just wear black leggings & an MEF shirt”
In the past (and still for some areas of China), Chinese immigration expected teachers to get a physical exam/medical check/blood test/x-rays before issuing the work visa (z-visa). For most areas now Chinese immigration can accept a signed letter from the teacher saying that they do not believe they have any medical issues and then do the medical check once they get the China.
For the medical exam teachers cannot eat/drink anything from the night before and lately the test has taken not much longer than an hour or two to get through. The medical check is generally done in modern, clean, professional hospitals. I would say 50% of the female teachers have no issue with the test but 50% will say it was uncomfortable. Everyone agrees that it is usually very ecient, you go from station-to-station and it seems very sterile, not personal at all, when they move you around for the tests. Almost all of the male teachers say that the medical test is ne and are glad at how they just get you in and out of there.
It depends on what you compare it to. I do recall seeing boxes fall out of a truck without anyone seeming to care and noticing that the fragile logo was on the boxes. If you like to send packages sometimes it can be less ecient to package and send things. I have heard some teachers very frustrated with the system. Usually when they deliver, they call and need to navigate to deliver (so some Chinese support is needed). If it is set up well it is ne though. Inside China they have often one-day shipping, and most of our teachers just use the M.E.F. Rep’s oce or the kindergarten and have packages sent there. Labeling international packages with also the Chinese address (copy/paste/print/add to the package) and remembering to leave a name and phone number of a Chinese person there seems to make for smooth deliveries. Online shopping is easy, and huge in China and many teachers enjoy using English friendly sites. It is just a matter of using the system correctly in order to avoid many frustrations.
This question seems to be asked most by US teachers as the medical system in the US is very expensive and a concern for most. Basically the insurance is for emergencies (if you get sick or injured in China) and it is not possible to arrive in China and bill the insurance for a number of prescriptions nor will it be easy to get a Chinese doctor to prescribe a list of prescriptions while you are there. The good news is that often the drugs can be found in China and often at a much lower cost. Many teachers will get extra before they go, have a relative send medication to China or will use online pharmacies that ship overseas to ll prescriptions if needed.
Q: “How do you guys find the city and surrounding area? Lots to do? Fun?”
A: “There is loads of walks/hikes around the lake, springs and mountains you can do, we have massive shopping centres, a few cinemas, loads of places to eat. Other people would be the best people to tell you about the night life.”
A: (From a Jinan teacher) “Travelling in China is reasonable, 200¥ one way to Beijing and I think it was 400¥ one way to Shanghai. Both are within distance to go away for a weekend. You can either do an overnight train to shanghai or do it within 4hrs, we have done to overnight train and I would recommend it (it’s cheaper and for sure an experience). Beijing is 2hrs away.
This is really a matter of preference. Not all food will match a teacher’s preferences but most teachers are amazed at the options and are able to definitely find enough tasty dishes that they can enjoy. The menus are generally three or four times the size of what would be normal in western countries. Rice, noodles, vegetables, and meat are generally what is available in most Chinese restaurants with many different varieties and flavors to explore. There are also things like pizza, bread and western or foreign food options, which are usually not too hard to find.
A: “Well off the top off my head I immediately thought of my onesie & multiple boxes of Kraft Mac & cheese. But I'll try to think of a better answer & get back to you”
A: “More stick deodorant...its hard to find here and really expensive when you do”
A: “a note to the ladies, there's an abundance of pads here, but tampons are pretty much nonexistent...YES, BRING DRY SHAMPOO”
A: “If you have favorite pain medications like I do, make sure you stock up on those as well”
A: “There are gyms, but you have to pay in advance & from what I understand, it's a bit pricey the one next door with the pool is expensive but the one that’s like 10mins walk is a tad cheaper.”
Q: “Any dance fitness classes near by or at these gyms?”
A: “Yeah there is plenty of places like that, I’m not sure on their level of English but I’m sure you can just join in [Chuckle].”
A: “When the weather is nice you will often see ladies in big groups dancing together, also sometimes couples dancing outside as well..”
Teachers will not be staying in any poverty-type regions of China. Most teachers are surprised how modern China has become and it would probably be 50/50 on whether extra vaccinations are needed above what most advanced countries already require everyone to have. That said, to be safe, please check health websites for the latest updates or recommendations on vaccinations before coming to China.
Q: “Anyone get a vaccines before moving over?”
A: “I had a few that were recommended by my gp. I would ask them and they will let you know.”
Most people do not. This depends on what you bring with you. The voltage is 220V in China. Generally all new computers and most electronics will have 100 to 220V input written on them. The plugs in China generally allow you to use different/all ends, but North American teachers may have a three-prong plug that needs an extension (two prong is fine), also UK teachers also need an extension for the large plug type. Extensions can easily be bought here in China for a few dollars online, but if you need one to charge your computer right after arrival, it is recommended that you bring the extension piece that allows you to plug your cord end into the Chinese outlet. If you need a hair dryer or something of that sorts that may need a special plug/voltage, we recommend just buying a new hair dryer in China as they may cost less than a voltage converter.
Moving to China is definitely going to be a cheaper move than most people would pay to move to another city.
That said, there are things like rent deposits, usually three months rent in advance (consider that 3 months is generally cheaper than many people pay for one month in their countries, and that M.E.F. offers 1,000 RMB per month towards rent) and even though internet may be dirt cheap, the companies often ask for it to be paid for the year, plus the salary payments are monthly and with the asian system of being paid by the 15th for previous month, it does leave a gap in cashflow.
There have been teachers that could take over another teachers apartment/internet and not pay anything, and each case is a little different, but it is good to expect some of these starting expenses.
We do offer a 3,000 RMB cash advance on arrival to help a little and I would say that bring able to access up to $1,500 USD will make things comfortable.
We have yet to have a teacher not able to get through the starting regardless of how much they brought (generally we are able to help in lending some of the starting costs), and it is also good to note that once you pay three months of rent or a year of internet then you don’t need to pay that the coming months.
It is not the smartest thing to try to move to a new city, let alone a new country, without a penny but in the case that you are seriously short on funds, you would not be the first one. I am sure everyone will help to make this experience a reality for you.
The standard company payment system in China is monthly by the 15th of the month. This means that you will receive money for the first week of month-end training (if your training period is the last week of the month), by the 15th of the following month.
To set up the bank account in China, technically you need to have the residency permit. (some areas are able to get the bank accounts for teachers right away). When you arrive they will bring you to the different offices and do more paperwork for that. (Generally it takes around a month to get the residency permit). Once you have that, the Chinese office staff will bring the new teachers to the bank to help them set up your bank account. Due to the delay, your first payment from the company would normally be in cash.
Usually this is set up at the bank that is most commonly used in the area, but if you have a preference, it should be fine to help set it up where you want.
Q: “Has anyone transferred money from China to your bank back home? If so, how easy or difficult is it?”
A: “Oh yes, it’s quite a task but it’s doable. I do it monthly.”
Yes, BUT there are VPNs that seem to work so that teachers can easily use their computers and phones for all of the apps and sites that they are used to.
Without the VPN you will generally have issues with anything google, dropbox, facebook, messenger, youtube, netflix, and many of websites that wont come up.
Now the VPNs are difficult to download while you are in China, so it is recommended that you download the VPN service on your computer/phone/tablet before coming to China.
The price seems to be around $100 per year. Most of the teacher now use expressVPN.
Note: If you have expressVPN and you look at your account preferences their is an option to recommend to a friend. If a teacher connects you to expressVPN through a link, when you sign up, then it will give you (and them) one free month.
A: “Definitely download VPNs before you come to China”
Q: “I know VPNs are the deal for computers but what about phones? Can people still use the FB or Instagram apps?”
A: “VPN works on your phones/tablets/laptops/computers”.
Here are the requirements we have for our teaching position:
Some Chinese companies put age the max. age restriction of 34 years of age, as the visa is more difficult to get if you are older. This is case by case, and not official, but if you are older you may want to choose a different country with lower visa restrictions.
First, check that you meet the requirements written above under “Am I qualified to teach at M.E.F.?”.
Next, please record a one-minute video introducing yourself, any related experience and why you are interested in teaching children in China. (Computer may be better but taking this with your phone is also fine)
Please send your resume to the contact details below. If the video file is small enough it can be sent by e-mail. If not, you can drop it into the Skype textbox, send a Dropbox file download or a Google drive download link.
Alternatively, if you meet the requirements, feel free to contact us and request an interview.
M.E.F. works hard to overcome the common problems that can be found in many of the Chinese companies hiring foreign teachers.
First, our system addresses most of the common problems. We strive to offer a very clear understanding of exactly what to expect before you start, to avoid surprises.
Our teaching system makes it so there is not a need for much preparation time if any, the system allows for teachers to teach well and then go and enjoy China.
We try to separate the Chinese kindergartens from the teachers to avoid the problems most teachers have with cultural differences, misunderstandings and complications between schools and teachers. We strive to remove the complications and make it so teachers can just teach and enjoy what they do.
The kids usually love our teachers. It is not like teaching grammar or testing. Our teachers get to be the fun teachers that the kids love.
Q: This seems like a funny question but I mean, do you guys like it? Lol. I know not every day is a good day, especially with small kids but overall you guys are liking it?
A: Overall I love it here, it is completely different to any other country I have been to. You just have to be open minded and willing to adapt.
^^^ 100% agree... Like, yes I get frustrated sometimes. But I genuinely love living in China
Please send an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. We'll be glad to answer any questions you have.
Lindsay from Canada “...I’ve been in China about a week now...I am really excited that I chose M.E.F. It has been awesome so far!”
Jay from Canada “...First, I was a bit hesitant because I could not find a lot of information...they were very helpful...everything went well...”
Ashlan and Jefferson from America "... It has been awesome. It has been so much fun. M.E.F. has taken such good care of us..."