Mike Cairnduff from Hello Teacher!

Updated January 12, 2019
By Mike Cairnduff

Silk street in Hangzhou China

You often hear about the experiences of people who are teaching English in China. But what about the people who do the hard work getting the teachers over there?

To get an insight into the recruiter’s world, I interviewed Jane Qin, an experienced recruitment manager in Zhejiang province, China.

Why did you choose to become a recruiter?

I love speaking English, working with different people, and I get paid to do what I like!

My experience as a recruiter helps me better understand the world, people from different countries, the demands of teaching English, and the visa process.

It’s very interesting and educational.

What are the challenges of your role?

The biggest challenge is always recruiting the right person for the position.

For example, a school may require a young, native English-speaking person to teach kids, but only very old or non-native English teachers apply for the job.

If a candidate does fall into the required range, we try to recruit only those with an easygoing personality. This is more important than teaching experience.

Timing can also be a challenge as you need to match the school’s demands with the teacher’s expected arrival time in China.

ESL teachers in China should be easygoing, according to recruiter Jane Qin.

According to recruiter Jane Qin, an easygoing personality is more important than teaching experience.

The visa policy is very strict in Zhejiang province, where I work. Candidates who apply for work in this province should have two years’ experience after graduating from university.

They must also pass a health check and a police record check. These documents can take a long time to obtain.

Sometimes the visa process for China can take up to two months.

Can you tell me about your experience working alongside Western teachers?

Like most things, there are good sides and bad sides.

I’ve worked with many Western teachers, and there are 21 at my current school. They all have vastly different personalities, as Chinese people do!

Some are talkative, active and quick-minded, while others are quiet and cautious. Some are sincere, while others are hypocritical. And some accept cultural differences well, while others complain all the time!

They are just human like Chinese people.

What’s been your worst experience with a Western teacher?

A Canadian teacher once made a bad impression on me. He was having trouble with his Korean visa, so I helped him by offering him an invitation letter to teach at my school.

I paid for his train ticket out of my own pocket as he said that he had no money. As it turned out, he came to China with the documents I provided but didn’t come to my school.

He avoided contacting me and didn’t pay back the ticket I bought for him. He simply disappeared!

I have to say it was a great disappointment. I learnt that not everyone in Western society can be trusted.

Why do schools in China want Western teachers?

As Chinese people are getting richer, they can afford to pay for their children to attend training centers and be taught English from non-Chinese teachers.

More and more training schools are being established here.

Why do you think people choose China as an English-teaching destination?

The strong demand for foreign teachers means the average salary is getting higher and higher.

If you’re a university graduate, you can almost surely get a job as long as you’re ‘normal’ and sincere!

At my school, the working hours are only about 22 hours a week. Compared to working in their own country, Western teachers get paid higher yet work less hours. So why not come to China?

It’s also really safe here and the people are friendly. Zhejiang people speak softly and are polite.

This goes perfectly with the historical and natural beauty of Hangzhou City.

Picturesque white building surrounded by nature at West Lake in Hangzhou, China.

Hangzhou is full of natural beauty (pictured: an old residence at West Lake).

Do you think China’s demand for Western teachers will keep growing?

Foreign teachers are increasingly becoming a basic necessity within the Chinese education industry. Nowadays, educated Chinese parents want their kids to sound like a native English speaker.

As long as the quality of foreign teachers coming to China keeps improving, I think the market will always be there.

Do you agree with Jane that an easygoing personality is more important than experience when teaching English in China? Please comment below.


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