Apr 29, 2024

American High School ESL teacher Jinhua, China

  • High Bluff Academy
  • Jinhua, Zhejiang, China
Full time English Language Arts (ELA) ESL

Job Description

This position is for an American teacher, with a native accent under 58 years old. (Chinese government regulations do not allow teachers to stay once they reach 60). Experience in China preferred. Two to three years of full-time ESL or English teaching (preferably at the secondary level) required. The teacher must be able to arrive in China by August 25, 2024. Recent teaching references required. Candidates must have a college diploma from a U.S. university and an ESL certificate or a U.S. state teaching certificate. 

The position at the school is not very demanding compared to other positions at language schools. The class load is very manageable and class sizes are usually 10-12 students. There is plenty of time during the day to do your planning. Weekends are free. The curriculum is flexible to accommodate the experience and expertise of the teacher and to account for differences in English ability levels of the students, which can fluctuate from year to year. We used to teach American History and Government, but this is no longer allowed by the Chinese government, so the focus is on ESL skills and literature.


The teaching contract is with AiQing High School, a public boarding school for grades 10-12. There are approximately 2,000 students in the school. It is the No. 2 school in the city. High Bluff Academy has partnered with Ai Qing to provide native English instructors and oversee the International Program of 40-60 students. The program is in its 11th year.


Salary and benefits: The school provides roundtrip transportation, $3,000 to $3500 USD per month for 10 months paid in local currency at the current exchange rate. Local medical insurance provided. Chinese taxes are paid by the school. The school provides a fully furnished apartment and utilities. Subsidized meals are available at the school cafeteria. The food is good and costs about $1-$2 per meal. Foreign teachers get the same paid holidays as the local staff, including three weeks for Chinese New Year.


School year: September 1 - June 30. Teachers should arrive at least one week before the first day of school.


Teaching duties: 4-5 classes per day of 40 minutes each. Class size is 10-12 students. Exact times of the classes will be determined upon arrival.


Local environment: Jinhua is a beautiful city with clean air (by Chinese standards) surrounded by lush, green mountains. They recently opened a luxury hotel complex and shopping mall not far from the school. There's a Starbucks, McDonalds, and other American fast food as well as many Chinese restaurants. The food is great in Jinhua and you can find fresh seafood as well as their famous Jinhua ham. Zhejiang province is the wealthiest in China and there are great daytrips from Jinhua to Hangzhou and other historic sites. Shanghai is two hours by express train.


The city is very safe and our teachers have never been the victims of theft or any other problems. Bicycles are available for rent all over town; buses and taxis are readily available. So far, none of our teachers have opted to buy a car. (One bought a motor scooter)


You will find the people to be very friendly and honest. The biggest challenge will be the language. There are many people at the school who can help with translating. The English teachers on the school staff are quite happy to assist you with whatever you need. The parents of the international program students have invited the foreign teachers on many weekend outings with their children acting as tour guides and translators. There is also a local language school that provides bilingual teacher’s aides and translators for you. The language school comes on campus to teach TOEFL prep classes to our students and in return, they are required to help the American teachers with shopping, setting up cell phones, travel arrangements, etc. The staff is quite competent and eager to please.


The other frustration that teachers new to China have is that the students find open-ended assignments very difficult. They are much more comfortable with workbooks and memorization. Providing their opinion, conducting research, paraphrasing in their own words are very difficult and frustrating tasks for these students. Teachers should introduce these gradually and not expect miracles the first time. Plagiarism is not a concept they understand. They are used to having their teachers tell them the meaning of a story or event which they memorize and spit back verbatim.


Overall, the students are very well-behaved and fun to work with. They are used to a highly structured classroom, so games, group work and lessons that involve getting out of their seats, should be introduced gradually with specific expectations. Most classes have 10 students or less, so it is fairly easy to keep them engaged and on-task. Falling asleep in class is the most common behavior problem as students there get very little sleep.


It’s best to approach this assignment with a sense of adventure. The teachers at the school are very friendly and supportive, but only the English teachers can speak English. Employees of the Agency will also be on campus to support you. The school administration is pretty “hands off” so don’t be disappointed if the principal does not visit your classroom. Principals in China serve more of a bureaucratic role and are not involved in supervising teachers.


During Covid, enrollment in the program dropped considerably and they are still trying to get back to pre-Covid enrollment levels. They have lowered the English standards of the incoming students, so we have had to change the curriculum from high school literature to intermediate ESL language acquisition. The teachers have a lot of free time and although the contract states that you will be on-campus during the school day, it is not rigidly enforced.


The cost of living is very low in China, so teachers can reasonably expect to save 30-50% of their salary, depending on lifestyle and travel. The contract ends June 30, but there are other employment opportunities teaching English over the summer if teachers wish to remain in Jinhua. Otherwise, you would have an unpaid holiday from July 1 to August 31, if the school offers a new contract for a second year. Many of our teachers have stayed for two or three years. 

Start Date

Sep 01, 2024

Various start dates through the year?


Is government issued teaching license required?


Is school provided for dependents?



$3,500 USD per month (paid in RMB at current exchange rate)

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