How to recruit the best Chinese teacher in to your school

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What does this cover?  This article covers the following:

·         Deciding what type of teacher to look for

·         Finding a Chinese teacher

·         Interviewing a Chinese teacher

·         Developing and retaining a Chinese teacher in your school or local area

·         Links to other relevant areas of the website –

Bi-cultural and bi-lingual Chinese school teachers are not easy to find but then it is this lack of established and multi-faceted connections with China that is why our children need to learn Mandarin Chinese! Differentiating between applicants requires skill. There are those who will, with a little help, become well integrated into the school, will rapidly adopt Western ways of teaching and learning (lesson plans / activities/ interaction / exchanges) if they do not know them already and will ensure the language and its culture become popular and successful in the school. There are those who will struggle to remain or become part of Chinese Teacher community and become part of the school community whilst paying attention to how Chinese can become both enjoyable and of high quality! Ensuring Chinese teachers are networked into both the Chinese and the general education community is vital to developing and retaining good Chinese teachers.

What kind of Chinese programme will you offer?

First of all, you need to decide what level you are thinking of introducing Chinese at your school. For more information about this please read our article called ‘How best to introduce / develop Mandarin Chinese and learning about China at your school’

These are some of the ways that you can introduce Mandarin, each of which will impact on your search and interview strategies:


Will you be looking for a full-time or part-time Mandarin teacher? Full-time positions are very much in demand by Chinese teachers so you are likely to get a number of high caliber candidates applying for the position, depending on ‘the package’ and geographical location. Part-time positions are also in demand. The work will certainly be more attractive if lessons are grouped, either on one/two days rather than spread over the week. Grouped sessions will allow Chinese teachers with peripatetic work to continue with their other commitments. If you have flexibility around when the lessons can be timetabled, this will help too and potentially provide you with more candidates.


Immersion schools do require very skilled teachers on the whole. Such schools are generally used to hiring Chinese teachers and hire the best! They are attractive employers to Chinese teachers.

Afterschool Club

Afterschool clubs offer schools the opportunity to taste Chinese without altering the school day. That said Chinese is a subject area and for children to make progress ideally an After School Club should become curriculum after a while. Equally less formal teachers can perhaps be used but this runs the risk that the children make less progress.

Outreach/Enrichment/Cultural activities

You are likely to need specific skills for cultural work. Many Chinese teachers have some cultural skills and knowledge and they usually have contacts with other people in their network. Your local Community Chinese School might be able to help, as might your local Confucius Institute who can run outreach events that can sometimes be free to schools.

Where to find a Chinese teacher


Here you outsource the sourcing of a teacher to an organization that specializes in teaching Chinese to children. There are several companies, who offer to teach Chinese children. The easiest way is to search on ‘child learn Chinese’ or ‘Chinese teachers schools’ for example.


Much reduced administration for the school. 

You will, in most cases, be guaranteed quality teachers who have experience teaching in Western classrooms.   

If the teacher stops for some reason, the organization can supply another with little of more often no interruption to teaching.


Usually more expensive

Even these organizations might not have teachers in all areas, especially ones not close to big towns or cities.

Local Secondary or High School where there might be a Confucius Classroom or a Mandarin teacher willing to do outreach to primary /elementary schools in local area

Look in your local area for a school already teaching Mandarin Chinese and see if the teacher has availability and can work in your school through an outreach / partnership approach. 

For a list of Confucius Classroom use this link


The teacher will be used to working in a Western classroom

They might have funding for outreach work

They will have access to resources for use in the classroom through their network


They might be less used to working with a younger age group and might need help adapting their style and content.

A Chinese Language Assistant Scheme

Various schemes exist to supply teachers from China for either 1 or, in more rare cases, 2 years. Again contact your Local Confucius Institute or in the UK the British Council. In the USA contact The Asia Society.


Such Language Assistants are usually subsidized by the Education Council of China (HanBan)

Their Chinese is obviously perfect

They bring with them a sense of authenticity that usually appeals to children – why do Western people like yoghurt or dip biscuits in their tea!?


They are often not used to Western pedagogy, classroom management and target setting. Although the training of such teachers is increasingly accommodating these needs.

They are a great resource if there is someone who can mentor them within the school, perhaps learning Chinese themselves.

Useful Links:

British Council CLAs UK: See HERE 

SSAT Chinese Networks UK: See HERE

Confucius Institutes UK: Regional links see HERE

Confucius Classrooms USA: See HERE

Confucius Institutes Australia: Melbourne/Adelaide/Western Australia

Asia Society - Chinese Language Programs and Initiatives in the United States  

Asia Society -  Get Certified to Teach Chinese

Asia Society - Chinese programs in the U.S. and academic organization:  


Information about teaching Chinese in the U.S.


Obviously advertising in the usual places including on this website given The Chinese Staffroom ranks very highly on related searches for ‘Mandarin Chinese teacher job’. Do contact us if you wish to place a FREE advert. 

What should you be looking out for?


Good classroom management – What experience do they have at different age groups?

Ability to engage/interact with children– How do they pace their classes and ensure they are interactive? How do they intersperse cultural learning with language learning? How to they prepare children and pupils for exams whilst allowing them to remain intrigued and fascinated by such a different language?

Knowledge of Western pedagogy and policies – Are they aware of your local needs such as exams, target settings, written policies, child protection requirements etc. 

Knowledge of how Western children learn Chinese – Do they know how to explain how the different writing systems work and why these differences exist? What are they views on correcting pronunciation? Do they use direct translation of Chinese into English to show how meaning is created differently in certain sentence patterns and concisely? What are their views on how and when to learn Chinese Characters? Do they know of connections with how Western children learn to read and write in primary /elementary school?

Interpreting CVs

Native Teachers

Native teachers of Chinese can obviously obtain local country qualifications if they have been in the country for a while. If not they may have a number Teaching Mandarin or Chinese as a Foreign Language and degrees in Translation and or Education that are of relevance.

CVs of native Chinese people will tend to talk of achievement rather than skills. Working in an interview to translate these achievements into skills or to probe into whether and if so how previous experience is relevant to teaching is useful. The ability to become part of a Language Department (High School) or the general school (Elementary and Primary) might be an area to take into consideration to ensure Chinese does not remain on the periphery of what the school does and stands for.

Visa status for native Chinese is also something that needs to be checked and can delay the entry of HanBan sponsored teachers into the local country.

Non-native Teachers

There is the option in primary/elementary schools of a keen teacher learning Mandarin Chinese alongside the children using pronunciation help available online.

Non-native fluent speakers of Chinese are rare but are becoming more frequent applicants. They may have the advantage of understanding Western pedagogy and policies. They are less authentic but can be good at using their personal knowledge or China and contacts into the classroom.

If you have any comments about this article or you have some ideas/additional material to add, please contact Pete at info [at] thechinesestaffroom [dot] com


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