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Teach English in Hainan, China (Haikou, Sanya)

Hainan, an island province nestled in the southernmost part of China, often referred to as the "Hawaii of the East," boasts of turquoise waters, expansive sandy beaches, and a tropical climate that lures travelers all year round. As China's largest island, Hainan is more than just a popular tourist destination; it's a unique blend of vibrant local culture, rich history, and modern development. The province's capital, Haikou, to the north, offers urban experiences with bustling markets, impressive skyscrapers, and local delicacies, while cities like Sanya to the south are epitomes of leisure and relaxation. In recent years, Hainan has also emerged as an educational hub, inviting international teachers to contribute to its rapidly growing English learning community.

Reasons to Teach English in Hainan

  1. Tropical Paradise: Enjoy living in a place that most people consider a vacation destination. With its pristine beaches, lush rainforests, and abundant sunshine, Hainan offers an unparalleled quality of life, making it a delightful place to both work and relax.

  2. Cultural Immersion: Hainan's unique Li and Miao minority cultures, combined with its Han majority, offer a rich tapestry of traditions, festivals, and cuisines, providing teachers an authentic Chinese experience distinct from the mainland.

  3. Growing Demand for English: As Hainan positions itself as an international tourist destination and free trade port, the demand for English proficiency among its locals has skyrocketed. This surge creates numerous opportunities for English teachers in schools, universities, and private institutions.

  4. Modern Amenities with Traditional Charm: While Hainan boasts of modern infrastructures, shopping malls, and entertainment hubs, it also preserves its historical sites, ancient temples, and traditional fishing villages, giving teachers a balanced lifestyle.

  5. Gateway to Southeast Asia: Hainan's strategic location makes it a gateway to Southeast Asian countries. Its proximity to countries like Vietnam, Thailand, and Malaysia makes weekend getaways or holiday trips more accessible.

  6. Supportive Expat Community: The growing number of international teachers and expats in Hainan has led to the formation of close-knit communities, which can be a great support system for newcomers.

  7. Sustainable Development: Hainan's commitment to becoming an eco-island means there's a focus on sustainable development. This makes it an ideal place for those who value green initiatives and a clean environment.

Understanding Hainan's Education Landscape

Hainan's focus on becoming an international hub has naturally led to an increased emphasis on English education. The island's education landscape comprises a mix of public schools, private institutions, international schools, and universities. As Hainan seeks to establish itself on the global map, there's a notable push towards integrating English into the core curriculum of schools.

Public schools in Hainan typically have a standard curriculum set by the Chinese government, but with the rising emphasis on English, many schools are now integrating specialized English programs. International schools, on the other hand, follow international curricula like the IB or Cambridge, with English being the primary medium of instruction. Private language institutions, which are widespread throughout the province, cater to both children and adults wanting to learn English either as a supplementary skill or for business purposes.

There's also a rise in English immersion programs and English summer camps, especially in tourist-centric cities like Sanya, where students get a chance to interact with native speakers and learn in a more relaxed environment.

Eligibility and Requirements to Teach English in Hainan

The requirements to teach English in Hainan will be similar to the standard requirements for teaching English in China. However, here are the specific requirements for Hainan:

  1. Bachelor's Degree: A bachelor's degree (or higher) in any discipline from a recognized university is mandatory.

  2. TEFL/TESOL Certification: Most institutions in Hainan require teachers to have a TEFL, TESOL, or CELTA certification with a minimum of 120 hours of training.

  3. Native English Speaker: Teachers should be native speakers and hold passports from the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, or South Africa. Non native English speakers can still work in China as a subject teacher, or teaching assistant/manager.

  4. Teaching Experience: While not always a strict necessity, having prior teaching experience can give candidates an edge, especially for higher-paying jobs or positions at reputable institutions.

  5. Clean Criminal Background Check: A clear criminal record is essential for obtaining the Z visa, which is the visa for foreign teachers in China.

  6. Medical Examination: A comprehensive medical examination is necessary to ensure the teacher's fitness and health for the role.

  7. Adaptability and Open-mindedness: Given the cultural differences, schools often look for candidates who are adaptable, patient, and open to embracing the local culture.

Salary and Benefits for Teaching English in Hainan

  1. Competitive Salary: Depending on qualifications, experience, and the institution's reputation, English teachers can expect to earn anywhere from 12,000 to 20,000 RMB per month.

  2. Housing Allowance or Provided Accommodation: Many schools and institutions offer free or subsidized housing, making it easier for teachers to settle down.

  3. Contract Completion Bonus: It's common for schools to offer a bonus upon successfully completing a teaching contract.

  4. Paid Vacations: Teachers can expect paid national holidays and winter/summer breaks, especially in public schools and international schools.

  5. Health Insurance: Comprehensive health insurance is typically provided, covering most standard medical procedures.

  6. Professional Development Opportunities: As Hainan's education sector grows, there are increasing opportunities for teachers to attend workshops, training sessions, and conferences.

  7. Lower Cost of Living: While Hainan's living costs might be higher than some interior provinces due to its touristy nature, it's still relatively affordable compared to major metropolitan areas in China.

Living in Hainan

Hainan, often referred to as "China's Hawaii", is not just a stunning tropical paradise; it's also a vibrant and rapidly developing province with a unique blend of local and international cultures. Living in Hainan is an experience that combines the laid-back island lifestyle with the bustling energy of China's development. Here are some key aspects of life in this tropical province:


Hainan boasts a tropical monsoon climate, with warm temperatures year-round. Sanya, one of its most well-known cities, enjoys over 300 days of sunshine annually. However, like all tropical destinations, Hainan also has its rainy season, which typically runs from May to October.

Cost of Living

While Hainan might be a bit pricier than some of China's inland cities due to its status as a tourist hotspot, the cost of living is still relatively affordable, especially when compared to megacities like Beijing or Shanghai. Rent, local transport, and daily essentials are reasonably priced, but imported goods can be more expensive.

Culture and Entertainment

Hainan's rich cultural tapestry includes influences from its indigenous Li and Miao communities, its Han majority, and an increasing number of international expatriates. This blend is evident in its festivals, food, and daily life.

When it comes to entertainment, Hainan doesn't disappoint. From pristine beaches to mountain hikes, golf courses to hot springs, there's something for everyone. The province is also home to numerous resorts, restaurants, and nightlife venues, especially in cities like Sanya.

Local Cuisine

Seafood is the star of Hainanese cuisine. Fresh catches from the South China Sea are a daily staple, complemented by tropical fruits like coconut, mango, and lychee. Don't miss out on trying the famous Hainanese chicken rice!


While Mandarin is the official language, you'll also hear Hainanese, a local dialect, being spoken. Given the province's push towards internationalization, English is increasingly common in tourist areas and among younger residents.


Hainan's transportation infrastructure has seen significant upgrades in recent years. The island is connected by a network of modern highways, high-speed trains, and two international airports (in Haikou and Sanya).

Safety and Healthcare

Hainan is generally safe for residents and tourists alike, with low crime rates. The healthcare system is robust, with a mix of local hospitals and international clinics catering to various needs.

Natural Beauty

Arguably the highlight of living in Hainan is its natural beauty. With its azure waters, white sandy beaches, and lush greenery, the island is a visual treat. Popular scenic spots include Yalong Bay, the Five Finger Mountains, and the Yanoda Rainforest.

Teacher Stories

Sarah from the USA:

"After graduating from college in the States, I wanted an adventure. Teaching English in Hainan has been more than I ever expected. It's not just about the job – it's about the breathtaking beaches, the warmth of the local people, and the fusion of cultures. My students are eager to learn, and their enthusiasm is infectious. On weekends, I get to explore – whether it's a trek in the Yanoda Rainforest or just lounging by the beach in Sanya. It's been a year, and I've extended my contract for another one!"

Tom from the UK:

"I've taught English in several cities in China, but Hainan has a charm unlike any other. It feels like I'm on a perpetual holiday. The climate, the food, the pace of life – it's all so relaxed. And the best part? I've been learning Hainanese dance from my neighbors. There's always something new to learn and experience."

Priya from South Africa:

"Coming to Hainan has been a revelation. The island's natural beauty is unmatched. My school is supportive, and there's a growing community of expats here, so it never gets lonely. I've also started diving – the clear blue waters of the South China Sea are just irresistible. Every day feels like a new adventure."

Declan from Ireland:

"I initially came to Hainan on a holiday and fell in love with the place. When I found out about teaching opportunities, I jumped at the chance. It's been two years now. The students are fantastic, and I've made friends from all over the world. Hainan has a vibrant expat community, and there's always something happening. From beach barbecues to cultural festivals, life here is never dull."

Moving Towards Teaching English In Hainan

Hainan, with its splendid beaches, rich cultural backdrop, and friendly populace, is steadily becoming a favored destination for English teachers from around the globe. The island offers a harmonious blend of relaxation and adventure, traditional and modern. Beyond the scenic vistas, what truly makes the experience memorable are the connections you forge – with students, locals, and fellow expatriates.

If you're contemplating a teaching journey in China, consider Hainan. It's not just about imparting knowledge; it's about immersing yourself in a tapestry of experiences that enrich both the teacher and the student. Here, in China's southernmost province, you'll find both a fulfilling profession and a life adventure. So, pack your bags, embrace the tropical vibes, and embark on your Hainan teaching escapade!