Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to speak fluent Chinese in order to teach English in China?
You do NOT need to speak fluent Chinese. While this may help you during the initial period of settling in, remember that your primary skill is the English that you already speak as your native language. In fact, many of our teachers consider living and teaching in China as the best way possible to learn Chinese.
We do encourage our teachers to learn some Chinese language and culture before you go to China. The Chinese Culture Center offers on-site Chinese lessons in Columbia, South Carolina free of charge if you’re enrolled in the program. If you aren’t able to attend it on-site, we also offer online training courses, along with our course on TEFL teaching methods.
If you are worried about getting around in China before you speak the language, please relax. Once you’re in China, your host school will assign you a bilingual colleague, fluent in your language, to help you set up your work and life upon arrival. Your host school will likely even offer free Chinese classes.
Do I have to be an English or Education major to qualify for the program?
No, you do not need to be in any specific major. At the Chinese Culture Center, we place emphasis on cultural exchange, fostering the communication between China and America. We’re not just looking for qualified educators, but for people with a passion for teaching and a thirst for learning. In fact, you may even teach your major in China.
If I don’t have an academic degree, can I apply to teach English in China?
Yes. The Chinese Culture Center accepts people from all backgrounds, including some of those who do not have degrees. While you may not be suited for all positions offered, we will carefully review your application and see if there is any position right for you. For example, a Kindergarten teacher or a summer camp counselor may not require the same degree work as a Master Teacher.
Why should I choose the Chinese Culture Center for Teaching in China?
For one thing, the Chinese Culture Center is a nonprofit organization in the United States. The CCC advocates for the interchange and understanding between two great nations. As such, our focus is on pairing the best possible teachers with the best possible environments, in which they may not only flourish but also bring out the best in the schools to which they are assigned.
CCC is a BBB accredited international organization with an A+ rating, so you know you’re safe with us. We are also a registered U.S. non-profit educational exchange organization with certification from The China State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) for recruiting, training, and placing foreign teachers in China.
We have been operating for 10 years—this is not a new organization with a high element of risk, but an established program. We have established a reputable history of taking good care of our teachers (see our Teacher Comments here, and focus on being a good program for teachers experiencing China for the first time.
CCC also offers international toll-free phone numbers for teachers in China to reach our U.S. office 24 hours a day, so you’ll never feel stranded. We strive to maintain very good working relationships with our partner schools in China, and insist that our Chinese employers sign work contracts before our teachers do, in order to protect your interests. You will sign the contract with your host school long before departure, so that there are no surprises or unexpected changes in your situation while you’re undertaking a new and exciting life change.
Because your situation in China will be established long before your arrival, you will have time to read up on the specific city and province in which you’ll live before coming over. Make sure to look at the weather reports for ideas about what to pack.
The Chinese Culture Center also provides local directors and attorneys in China. These hardworking professionals guarantee and enforce all the terms in your work contracts, so you’ll never be hit with unexpected fees or surprises. If you need assistance, the CCC is always there for you, in the U.S. and in China. We do all the paperwork for you (so you’re never worried about what you’re signing) including your visa, as well as offering our successful trainees and teachers TEFL certificates, a universal accreditation. We also offer successful trainees and teachers Certificates for Foreign Experts through our partner schools.
The Chinese Culture Center strives to always be a support system for you and your family while you are with us. Teachers like you are the reason we exist.
How can I defer my student loans while I am an American Education Ambassador with the Chinese Culture Center?
Travelling to China
Do I need any vaccination before going to China?
The Chinese government does not require any vaccinations to enter China. However, if you would like to get any as a precaution, or if your physician recommends any, please take them.
How much cash should I bring?
You may bring $500 - $1000 USD just in case. You may also ask your bank about your debit card use in China. You may withdraw Chinese money at ATM machines in China for a nominal fee, such as 2-3 dollars for each withdrawal up to 2000-3000 Yuan/day. You may also use your visa and master cards in China.
How do I exchange my money for Chinese currency?
Most Chinese airports and hotels will let you exchange a few hundred dollars. If you need to exchange a greater amount, you may do so at any Chinese bank.
Do I have Internet or WIFI access in China?
Yes. You will have Wifi in your hotel and apartment. Airports also have free WIFI. If you need internet access during other times, consider purchasing a SIM card when you arrive in China.
What are the dress codes for American teachers?
While we fully respect your desire to express your individuality, please also bear in mind that being an American teacher is a great responsibility and how you dress affects the way that your students and peers perceive you.
When you are in the classroom, please keep the following guidelines in mind.
- Be well groomed
- Cover up any visible tattoo
- Remove any nose piercings
- T-shirts, short sleeve shirts, dresses, shorts, and sandals are ok
- Mini skirts, shorts, tanks, clothing with holes and tears (beggar's jeans), and slippers are not appropriate.
- Dress colorfully and stylishly for a chance to be featured in our program photos and videos ;)
How do I get a data plan for my smartphone in China?
Although you can using your existing SIM card in China, the international roaming fees are extremely steep. Most teachers buy a prepaid SIM card in China, which can be used for calls and for data. SIM cards are sold at all Chinese airports and local stores. Please buy the SIM cards with the help of the local host staff, who know the best deals.
What's the best way to communicate with my family and friends back in the US?
Most Chinese communicate with each other using Wechat, a free messaging tool with video and voice capabilities. You may want to download wechat before you go to China so that you can add all the people that you meet.
If you do, be sure to share your wechat username with your friends and family so that you can video chat with each other. You may use other VOIP or video calling service such as Skype.
Can I use my Facebook and Gmail in China?
Unfortunately, Facebook and Gmail are both blocked in China due to government policy. We recommend signing up for a yahoo or hotmail account and have your email forwarded to it. Your school email address should also work in China.
Do I need a Chinese work visa for the summer program?
No. A work visa is only required for long-term teachers with a bachelor’s degree who are working one academic year as a full-time teacher. As our summer program participant, you qualify for the F-visa, which is issued for educational and cultural exchange, internship without pay, and non-business visits. This type of visa does not allow you to work for money. However, food allowance and airfare stipends are legal payments to you. Please note: You are not working in the summer program, but are a part of the educational and cultural exchange. You are an American Education Ambassador.
When will I receive my passport and Chinese visa?
We need your passport and visa to schedule your flight and process your work contract with the school. We will make sure that you receive your passport and visa before your departure.
Can I take my pets to China?
Unfortunately, no. While you may consider them part of the family, the housing contracts that we have negotiated respectfully request that you leave pets at home. University housing and apartments in China where you will be living do not accommodate pets.
Can I bring my family?
Yes. You are welcome to bring your spouse and children with you to China. Your housing will be sized accordingly to your family size. Please see the "Fees" page for a better understanding of the reduced cost of moving your family to China.
My spouse does not have any academic degree; Can he/she teach English with me in China?
Yes. Of course, your spouse must register online (just as you have) and pass our evaluation and background check first, just as all of our teachers do. We’ll assign couples to the same school or the same city. You may share the same apartment if you wish.
How much stuff can I bring?
The limitations for luggage on international flights are always changing, so be sure to check with your specific Airline before packing. In general (though this varies from airline to airline) you are permitted 1-2 bags up to 50 lbs. each as check-in luggage. A third suitcase can cost from $130 and up per piece. You are also generally entitled to a carry-on bag (backpack or rollaway) and a "personal item": laptop bag, purse, etc. Make certain you check with your specific carrier for the allowable dimensions of your baggage.
Should I pay over-weight luggage fee to get all my belongings to China?
You will not be reimbursed for an over-weight luggage fee. Please remember that your housing in China will be furnished, and the belongings you must bring are very minimal. Purchasing power in China is strong, and we highly recommend packing in an extremely minimal fashion. Use your over-weight luggage money to purchase belongings in China instead!
Should I lock up my check-in suitcases before departure?
Under no circumstances should you lock your suitcases. Airport security will simply saw off the locks. There’s no reason to waste your money and time.
What should I bring with me?
Most of the lodging you will be given is completely furnished; if it isn’t, you’ll know before departure. The furnishings include bedding, cooking utensils, TV, furniture, etc., everything you need to make yourself at home. You should bring your own laptop or smartphone, but are not required to do so. We recommend you bring minimal clothing as clothes (off the rack and custom-tailored) are very inexpensive in China. If your shoe size is 10 or over, consider bringing your own shoes, as they will be hard to find in your size.
Why do you need my original passport to get me a Chinese visa?
What many people may not know is that a visa is not just a piece of paper that you can receive in the mail. It is a legal document entitling you to enter a foreign country, and is fastened to your original passport at the back. This must be done legally at the consulate, rather than as a document that you can carry separately, which is why the original passport is necessary.
The fact that we provide visas for our program participants is a fantastic advantage. Most programs will require any participant to go to the foreign consulate at least twice, once to drop off the passport and fill out forms, once to pick it up (in person). When you come to China via Chinese Culture Center, we take the stress, worry, and driving out of the equation for you, making it easy and relaxing to obtain a proper Chinese visa. Your passport will be sent by secured mail in the U.S.—there is no safer way to send documents, so you know your passport is safe.
If for some reason you do want to obtain your own visa, the CCC will assist you by providing the documents and instructions you need. In this case, you will have to go to the designated Chinese Embassy or a consulate, which may be several states away. For Example, if you reside in South Carolina, you must go to the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC in person to apply for your Chinese Visa: First in order to drop off your paperwork and pay the fee, second to pick it up four business days later. We recommend you allow us to do the work for you, as it makes everything stress-free, and your passport is safe with the Chinese Culture Center.
Working in China
Where in China will I be working?
The Chinese Culture Center has a large placement network all over China, with schools of all levels (between kindergarten and adult schools, universities) and in all cities. Each teacher is offered a different arrangement based on experience and availability. Most of our schools are in Eastern China, but we have schools in every area of China. Long before you are scheduled to depart, you’ll be notified of your placement within China, and have the opportunity to sign your work contract. Even if you’ve been to China before, you’ll have the option to discover somewhere new!
How many hours per week will I be working?
It varies from school to school. However, the standard course work load is 20-25 class hours per week for most of our teachers. Kindergarten teachers might have more, so make sure to read your contracts before signing them.
Is it possible for me to work more than one year?
Yes, it is. We encourage teachers to work with us as long as they want. If you come to China after paying a multiple-year program fee, you can renew or ask to be reassigned to another school/city for the next year without paying an extra fee besides the visa renewal fee.
Can I find another job in China besides teaching English?
Yes. There are many jobs available in China through the Chinese Culture Center. While we do bring over and train many new English teachers, we offer a wide variety of careers. If you have a certain specialty or a subject in which you really want to work, make that clear on your application. We will do our best to find you something in your chosen field.
We also recruit special talents and experts for many different businesses and multinational companies in China. We are always looking for people with a wide variety of skills, not just English proficiency!
We are also on the search for native speakers of languages other than English. If you are fluent in another language, we may ask you to teach that language in Chinese schools instead of English. China is a rapidly growing country with interests all over the world, and schools are eager to expand their knowledge bases in a variety of ways.
Living in China
Is China safe for Americans?
While China is a very safe place to live, we do ask that all of our teachers display common sense. The crime rate in China is very low. For example, the homicide rate is only a fifth of what it is in America. The Chinese people are very friendly to foreigners, and love meeting new kinds of people.
You will also be able to reach the Chinese Culture Center in China or in America at any time of day, 24/7. We want you to feel safe and protected.
As part of making sure you are safe and protected, we ask that you take good care of yourself. Guard your purse or wallet in crowded buses or shopping centers, lock your apartment behind you, and make sure not to go out with strangers. In other words, exercise common sense.
I’m African American. Do Chinese people discriminate against blacks?
No. You will be treated as a respected teacher and a foreign expert, just as all of our teachers are. In China, you will be judged only on work performance and your personal character. If you conduct yourself with respect to the local culture, just as with all of our teachers, you will be treated with a great deal of respect from your Chinese colleagues, your students, and their parents.
Remember that China is not a homogenous society. While many people in America may think of everyone from China as simply "Chinese," this huge nation envelopes several sub-cultures and has served as a genetic and cultural mixing pot for thousands of years.
If you’re still nervous, please take a look at our "Teacher Comments" page. You’ll see happy, satisfied faces of all colors and genders!
What kind of schools can my children go to in China?
Usually, you will be assigned to teach in the same school your children will attend. Most of our teachers are assigned to a foreign language school or an international school. Whether your child will be at the same grade you teach depends on your child’s grade level.