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How are China's new rules for employing foreign teachers online affecting you?

teach English online

For a while we have known about China’s new rules that will come into effect in September 2020 but the Chinese MOD have just added a few more as there was ‘public concern over online tutors’ who make their living teaching English online to Chinese students.

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Formerly, if you wanted to teach English online, finding work online in China was pretty easy to acquire if you spoke English well and if you were a native speaker. Given those two elements,  it was  probably one of the most accessible ways to earn an income as a teacher – teaching English online.

This changed slightly in 2018 with online English teachers required to have either a TEFL/TESOL or CELTA certificate and also a degree. This could be seen as a step in a positive direction for both teachers and students as it potentially ensures that a standard of academic teaching is received by the student by employing only qualified teachers as well as giving qualified teachers the opportunity of accessing online, employment and possibly even salary increases due to their professional qualifications being recognised and sought after by China’s education authorities. 

However, according to Caixin, on the 12th July, 2019, China’s central goverment set new rules specifically for online education platforms which are to be enforced by the Ministry of Education (MOE) in China. What is concerning is that these new rules are in respond to ‘public concerns’ over online English teachers tutors and their ‘purported qualifications’ and the ‘safety of their pupils.’ 


So what are the new rules?

Chinas central goverment have stated that:

  • All teachers must continue to hold TEFLs/TESOLS or CELTA’s , in addition to degrees.
  • Online educational platforms MUST publicly display the personal information of their foreign teachers, to include: their name, photo, teaching qualifications and previous academic and professional experience. 
  • All online classes for children, must finish no later than 9pm BJT and online lessons must not interfere  with educational life in a brick and mortar school.
  • No classes are to last longer than 40 mins, regardless of a students age or the subject that they are studying.   
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How do the foreign teachers feel?

A number of teachers feel that while ensuring correct safeguarding is obviously of the highest importance, followed by setting a standard of academic excellence, all of which is perfectly acceptable. But to publicly display very personal information about teachers such as their name, photo and copies of their academic certificates  online is not.

Some teachers have questioned if these new rules are respecting the same rights of privacy which teachers and other professionals are morally and professionally bound to. In particular, many teachers teach Chinese students online without ever seeing the face of the students due to the beliefs of the parents. More often than not students also use ‘screen names’ when taking classes online, to overcome any privacy concerns or barriers in language translation.

China is not alone in ensuring their privacy rights are respected  by not revealing their face on camera with the teacher and this is also not uncommon in the world of online teaching  in other countries. However, many teachers are not happy about their personal information being made public by token of the same virtue. 

What is the outcome?

Quite simply – not a lot. The Chinese government have clearly stated that any online,  educational platform that does not follow these new rules will be given a small time period to amend any practices. Failing that, they will be blacklisted, fined and then will have to answer to the Chinese law.

Foreign teachers have also remarked on the time frames being reduced. Currently Chinese students take online lessons anytime between 18:00 – 22:00hrs, on weekdays and on the weekend this can be anytime, depending on the educational platform. So for many teachers, they will potentially be losing 28 hours a month, of online teaching hours, maybe more.

For many foreign teachers this is a concern as they think about how their online income will now be affected with these new rules. As of yet China has not made any declarations, alongside these rules in relation to increasing foreign teachers salaries if they hold the professional and educational qualifications.

However some foreign teachers refuse categorically  to their personal information being published online by these companies.


Many teachers are finding that 3 hours teaching per day, online for China does not produce enough income to meet an average budget, if you live outside of China and many teachers are reporting that they are not even getting 3 hours per day in bookings.

Teach English online

Some companies like itutor Group offer more hours than other companies if you have the following:

  • A degree (3 years minimum) 
  • Native Speaker
  • 1 years online teaching experience. 

You can apply directly here.

Teach English online


In addition to this many Chinese  ESL platforms have increased their recruitment in non native English speaking countries, employing more filippino workers who can accept lower wages due to their cost of living in their country. 

To improve their income,  teachers are looking to find other private students online in other countries to bridge the gap and also to prepare themselves for any further potential changes as lots of teachers have already reported a huge drop in income as hours have been reduced globally across all Chinese ESL platforms.

One solution helping lots of Teachers and Tutors is our Teacherpreneurs Membership.


This membership shows teachers how to find their own International clients online and helps them create an online educational business  that can fill the empty hours of the day when China is asleep.


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Whatever decision online teachers decide to take, one thing is clear. Either they accept these new rules, find their own clients or find other online work. 


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  1. This is great thank you

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