Chinese Regulations For Online Teaching – What You Need To Know

As online teaching grows from being a brand new industry to an established one, regulations will naturally follow. China has continually introduced new regulations to make sure only qualified teachers are employed. They are also taking steps to make sure the students welfare are taken into consideration.

While a lot of companies did a good job of self regulation, VIPKID for example requires teachers to be North American with a bachelors degree and have relevant experience. A lot of other companies however were more than happy to take advantage of both teachers and students

Hiring South Africans or Eastern Europeans who don’t speak English as a native language, not verifying their language proficiency and paying a low salary were becoming a bit common.

These regulations are simply designed to bring the online space in line with the requirements to teach English in China. It’s also designed to improve the quality of after school programs in China.

What are the new Chinese regulations for online teaching?

The rules in place that effect online teachers directly are as follows:

  • Must have a TEFL certificate
  • Bachelors degree required
  • Criminal background check
  • Students are not able to have class from 9-10 pm Beijing time starting November 1st 2019.

Must have a TEFL Certificate

In line with what is required for English teachers in China, you must obtain a 120 hour TEFL certificate (read our guide on TEFL certification to learn more) and the accreditation must be internationally recognized.

TEFL certificates can be obtained in a few different ways. The best way to become a highly qualified online teacher is to actually go abroad, do a TEFL program and job placement program. Then teach abroad for 6 months to a year.

You’ll learn how to teach English to non-native speakers, the specific issues language learners have as well as issues English teachers have (talking to fast, not modeling language correctly, teacher talk etc).

The next best way to get a TEFL certificate is to simply do an online program. The key things note are that you want the TEFL certificate to be recognized by an international body.

For this you’ll want a TEFL certificate that is OFQUAL or ACCET certified.

OFQUAL is the Office of Qualifications and Examinations Regulation is the UK’s governing body that recognizes the legitimicy of a TEFL course. ACCET was fouded in 1974 and is recognized by the United States department of Education as a “reliable authority” in the area of teaching English as a foreign language.

There are two programs we suggest here at Teach and GO.

International TEFL Academy – OFQUAL Certified

The first is a program by the International TEFL Academy. Based out of Chicago in the United States. This is a company of former ESL instructors who now run TEFL courses online and around the world.


International recognized. A high quality 120 hour program that can be completed online or abroad. Online Program – ACCET Certified

The next program we like is from They offer 120 hour online TEFL certification programs online and are ACCET certifed.

Bridge Online TEFL course

An ACCET certified course that can be completed online. You need the 120 hour course.

Both programs meet the requirements for the new Chinese regulations. If you’re wanting to teach abroad potentially, I would go with a TEFL abroad program with International TEFL.

Bachelors degree required

If you want to teach abroad or teach online you need a bachelors degree. This is a standard ESL requirement for teaching abroad in any county and is not becoming a more standard requirement in the online space.

For China specifically, they require by law foreign English teachers to posses a bachelors degree. So it’s not so much a simple requirement by the online teaching platform. They are required by Chinese law to hire only those individuals with at least the equivalent to a bachelors degree.

Criminal background check

Introduced a few years ago, a criminal background check is again a standard requirement for online teaching and teaching abroad. The background check process can be completed in a few different ways depending on the online teaching company you’re working with.

First, some online teaching companies like VIPKID the actual process for doing a background check is to simply give permission via an online portal for a company to look into your background. This involves nothing more complicated than clicking a button, reading through the terms and then accepting the terms.

A background check will typically be required every 2 years if you’re working for an online teaching company based in China.

The second way and more traditional way to go about getting a background check is to either get a state or national background check. If you’re American, a state background check can be obtained by contacting your local police department where you’re a resident and request a certified background check.

For a national background check, this is a fairly easy process in most countries except America. It involves you requesting a background check from the FBI and takes a month or so to complete.

I’ve not seen an online teaching company require a national background check. But if you do intend to teach abroad in Korea then you’ll have to go through this complicated process.

For more on this visit criminal records check by the US State department (if you’re American).

Students are not able to have class after 9 pm Beijing Time

Introduced in November of 2019, previously students were able to book classes from 9 to 10 pm Beijing time. Not anymore. Online teaching companies are not able to allow students to book these hours anymore.

I know for a lot of online teachers this is a big change as this time was rather convenient for all online teachers working in America and Canada. The new rules in place are as follows starting November 1st 2019:

  • Students located in in Mainland China enrolled in an online program will be unable to take major or supplementary courses after 9:00 p.m (Beijing Time).
  • Trial classes will however be able to be booked for the 9:00 and 9:30 p.m. (Beijing Time) time slots for all students.
  • 50-minute classes will have a required 10-minute break during the lesson.
  • Students located in Mainland China cannot book back-to-back 25-minute classes.

Chinese Regulations for Online Teaching Conclusion

This covers the major change to the online teaching space as it related to mainland China based students and companies. The demand is still high for online teachers and if you’ve been looking for a way to make an extra income from online work, online teaching is still a wonderful opportunity.

With these increased regulations it makes obtaining a position a bit more difficult but it also helps keep out unqualified teachers which in turn makes for a better experience for all.