Attention online English teachers: What China’s new crackdown on regulations means for you 🙀

tefl china requirements

Online English teaching forums and Facebook groups are buzzing with the news of regulations being implemented by the Chinese Education Ministry in January 2019. There have been talks of this for a while, but the current buzz was caused by a bunch of the bigger Chinese online teaching companies sending out memos to their current teachers.

We’ve pulled together a quick guide to let you know what this means for you. We’ll be keeping it updated as the dust begins to settle and the impact of the changes becomes clearer.

Okay first up - what do these memos mean for teachers already on Chinese online teaching platforms?

If you haven’t heard from your platform yet, you probably will! If you do, here’s what some of the information on memos from companies like SayABC, VIPKID and DaDa stated:

In response to the new regulations announced by the Chinese Ministry of Education, all online English teachers must meet the following requirements by December 31, 2018:

  1. Completed a 120-hour (online or in-person) TEFL course from a recognized institution.
  2. Uploaded copies of all relevant certification to the platform they teach on:
    1. Bachelor’s degree
    2. TEFL certification
    3. Criminal background check

Basically, online platforms want to keep their teachers, so they are hoping their teachers will get the necessary qualifications in time for the big crackdown. It’s unclear how these regulations will be enforced. But the original memo does state that there will be a management platform that schools are answerable to.

(Psst: Check out the press release that was featured on the Ministry of Education’s website as well as multiple other sites like the China Daily.)

Which brings us to…

The original memo - where is this all coming from? 🤔

The actual memo from the Chinese Education Ministry was scant when it came to useful information for teachers and left things vague. Companies were given the actual regulations by the Ministry of Education ahead of the crackdown and so far most information is coming directly from the memos sent out by online platforms.

The announcement means that companies catering to primary and middle school students will have to be accountable for any after-school program (on or offline) and this includes things like: the curriculum, qualifications of teachers, and hours available.

For teachers already teaching online this may seem like it’s coming out of the blue. We feel you! But don’t worry - it’s not as bad as it seems. There’s still time to get TEFL certified and make sure you meet the regulations.

With requirements changing, you will need the following to teach English online with most Chinese companies:

  • A bachelor’s degree
  • A 120-hour TEFL certificate from an accredited institution
  • 2 years of teaching experience (and nope, a teaching practicum doesn’t cut it here!)
  • Criminal background check

So, what are online teachers saying about the crackdown?

qualifications to teach english in china

Here are just a few of the comments and concerns we’ve seen online from working online English teachers:

“My school is giving teachers 3 weeks to do a 120-hour course. That seems a little crazy to me.”

“I work for a great company in China. They told us the Chinese government is now requiring 120 or more hour TEFL certification from accredited and internationally-known companies. I have 15 years experience, a 40-hour TEFL certificate and a college degree. According to my company, the Chinese government will no longer accept just college degrees of experience, you must have a 120-hour TEFL certificate.

“I was told that there would be changes soon and that my credentials would be viewable for the students with my personal information partially blocked out, but not anything special about my certification. Fortunately, I completed a CELTA early in my career, so it’s not a problem either way.”

“I have a master’s degree in TESOL and they still want that certificate. A copy of my degree is not enough.”

Can I just get a cheapy TEFL and get this over with? 🙄

Technically yes, but if you’ve any sense in your head - that will be a hard no! Most reputable TEFL courses will cost you around $1,000, and we don’t advise you to cut corners with this requirement, as it’s a short-term solution to a long-term problem. If you’re in a major hurry to get this sorted, go with an online course, as that’s the fastest option.

With the government cracking down, we would recommend that working online teachers who’ve taken cheaper, shorter TEFL certificates in the past think about upgrading to one that will stand up to heavier scrutiny. That’s why we highly recommend that you go with a TEFL that’s been developed by an accredited education institution.

For now, you might get away with, say, a Groupon cert, but if we were putting our money on it, we definitely wouldn’t want to take the risk. Here’s our guide on how to know if a TEFL certificate is legit!

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Note: We will update this article as new information becomes available.