Teaching English in China at First Leap – Training at HQ in Beijing, China

All the information contained in this post about teaching English in China at First Leap is 100% my opinion. This is NOT a sponsored post, and no money was exchanged as an incentive to write this post.  Feel free to ask me any questions – I’m happy to share photos and talk with you about my first hand experience.

*Visa process has changed.  The process is different and based on which center you will be working at in China.  


Most of the people coming to teach English in China at First Leap are looking for the same thing in life; change and a new adventure. One of the great aspects about taking a teaching job with First Leap in China is that they are a large company, and they provide training for new teachers at their headquarters in Beijing, China.

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Once you arrive at the headquarters for training, you will quickly meet other teachers from all over the world who share the same passion and desire as you.  Any uneasy feelings that you may have had about whether or not you are doing the right thing will quickly vanish as you begin to share your story with your fellow teachers. This training for new teachers at First Leap is a great time to make new friends, and to realize that you are not alone.

Getting to Beijing and First Leap HQ

There are may ways to find a job teaching English in China. Once you have signed your contract and you are ready to start working as a Foreign Teacher for First Leap in China, then you will prepare your visa paperwork and fly over to Beijing. This initial flight cost needs to be covered by you, the teacher.  However, after you have finished your contract First Leap will give you a sizable flight bonus for you be able to fly back home, or anywhere in the world you would like to go.

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Your First Leap recruiter will be in touch with you daily, up until your flight over to China.  So if you have any questions, they will be there to help you feel at ease with your flight and visa into China. Thinking back, I know that I asked some crazy questions at first, but they were extremely patient with me and answered everything in a timely manner — no matter how silly it may have been.

You will also be given a list of common questions about moving over to China.  They even provide recommendations on what to bring, all the way down to what clothes you will need to bring with you. Honestly, I believe that they do their best to give you all the information you need to feel comfortable ahead of your trip.  And they are there to assist you with everything.

WATCH First Leap China Video – On-Boarding Process WATCH NOW

Will Someone Pick Me Up? Where Do I Go?

Once you have booked your flight to Beijing, you will let your recruiter know your arrival time so they can arrange for someone from First Leap HQ to pick you up and take you to your hotel.  It’s reassuring to know that as soon as you step foot out of the airport into China, someone from the First Leap will be there to assist you (you might even run into some other new teachers too).  They will then escort you to your hotel and help you to check-in and get settled.


The First Leap staff will also let you know about where you can get some food to eat, as well as some advice on “good” and “not so good” food to eat.  Always helpful in a new country!

They the staff will arrange a time to meet you in the morning and help guide you to training for the first day (you will want some help navigating your way in China and using public transit!). You will be assigned a roommate at the hotel for the training unless you say differently to your recruiter. I did not mind this. With my years of traveling the world and staying in hostels, I don’t mind.  Plus, it’s a great way to meet others in the same situation as you.

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Having a roommate immediately gives you a friend to go around out and experience a new culture with. But if you decide to get your own room, you will still be in the same hotel as other teachers.

The hotel will be located close to the First Leap location that you will be doing your live teaching training at later in the week.  Luckily, my hotel was less than a 5-minute walk to where I was teaching and doing my live training. So it worked out great.

Getting Escorted to HQ By First Leap Staff

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The next morning, you will meet in lobby of the hotel with a First Leap staffer who will guide you to HQ for training. Depending on where you are doing your live teaching training, your hotel may or may not be close to the First Leap HQ.  Beijing is enormous — the map of the subway lines is enough to make your head spin!  But don’t worry though, you will be guided on your first day to HQ and they will teach you how to ride and read the subway system. Then after the first day it is up to you to get to HQ by yourself.

First Day of Training at First Leap HQ

On our first day of training, we were met by our Head Foreign Teacher Trainer, Trevor. Trevor immediately made everyone feel at ease with his laid back personality. He is originally from California and has been with First Leap for 3 years now.

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In my training class, there were 12 of us from all over the world.  Some from the USA, a married couple from Canada, and a few recent graduates from Ireland, England, and France.  They were from all walks of life and everyone seemed to get along great.

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On our first day, we were welcomed by the heads of the Teaching Department, and I got to meet my recruiter who I had become friends with from so many question and answer sessions via Skype.  We filled out more paperwork and did several games to help get to know each other.

During this first day, the First Leap staff answered all of our questions thoroughly and made us feel even more comfortable with our decision to teach in China…and for choosing First Leap.  This day flew by, and by the end of the day, we were all given directions to the centers in which we would observe a full day of teaching at First Leap.

What Does a Full Day of an English Teacher in China at First Leap Look Like?

The next day was Saturday, which is our busiest day as teachers at First Leap (because it is an after school program).  With our maps in hand, my roommate Matthew and I made our way over to our designated center to watch a full day of classes by a Foreign Teacher.  Each center where the new trainee teachers were going all had First Leap trainers on hand.

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At our center, we were teamed up with George so that we could see what teaching a class is like at First Leap.  George was awesome.  She was originally from just outside of England and was there with her boyfriend who was also a teacher at a different center with First Leap.

As we walked into the center, we met the other English Teachers who we would be observing and shadowing for the day.  I can honestly say that everyone I met was cool, and so was John and David, who we shadowed for our training. John was from England and David was a lively chap from Scotland.  Both had very different teaching styles, but both were great teachers and the kids loved them.

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Even a day of shadowing teachers can be exhausting, but not too overwhelming. Saturday and Sunday are the busiest days of teaching, but you do get breaks in between classes to prepare for your next class, and of course, you get an hour or so for lunch. It was great to see a full day at the center and to get an idea of how First Leap classes are taught.  And it was reassuring to see just how fun the classes were!

What to do with a Day Off in Beijing, China

After seeing a full day of teaching at the center, we were given a day off to explore Beijing and do whatever we wanted to do. This was Monday, which is one of our regular off days as teachers. My roommate and I took the subway to one of the most famous squares in the world, Tian’anmen Square in the heart of Beijing. We had wanted to explore this area as well as the equally famous Old City, but unfortunately for us, it was closed that day for some reason. Also closed were the museums located around the square.  This was a bummer for us, but still, we made the best out of it.

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Instead, we wandered around the city checking out some of the local markets and shops. It was nice to be able to stroll around the city and it was nice to have someone with me. I can imagine that as a new teacher coming to China by yourself, it could be daunting to explore a foreign city on your own (especially if you have never done it before).  So it’s another benefit to being in Beijing with other teachers during training.

*Read also Why you need VPN in China*

Another Day of Training at First Leap HQ in Beijing

The next day, we were back at the training center.  Over the next several days at the First Leap Training Center, we had more observations as well as having different presentations daily on the fundamentals of teaching, from several of Trevor’s trainers.

Each training session was great and I felt as though I walked away with more knowledge on teaching English as a foreign teacher. Many of the sessions were interactive and really helpful!

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The interactive sessions helped those who were a little shy break out of their shell and be able to stand up in front of others to present their lessons. The training was also valuable because we were able to get ideas on different teaching styles, lessons, and games…many of which I still use today!

The several-day training sessions were packed full of information. The training for new teachers in Beijing only lasts one week, so there is a lot of information to go over in a short amount of time, but Trevor and his crew made sure that we absorbed the information and that we retained it as best we could so that we could be better teachers.

Becoming a Foreign English Teacher in China at First Leap

During the last two days of training, the teachers were assigned centers for our final teaching demo.  This was extremely nerve-racking for some of the teachers who would be officially teaching for the first time.

When the big day came, we were to watch the first two classes, then we were to split the teaching with the other teacher. We worked out with the other teachers which part of the lessons we would each handle. This was a great way to ease your way into teaching a lesson for yourself.  But the next day, we had our very own schedule.

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When the final day of training came, some new teachers were a little nervous that they would have a full schedule to teach themselves.  But we all knew this was good experience, after all we would be doing this from here on out in our new jobs!  You have to start somewhere right?


The schedule had 4 to 5 classes on there, but as we were coming up with ideas on how to present the lesson to the class, we had the benefit of other teachers there to bounce ideas off of.  We were given a wide range of different classes to be able to get familiar with.  Needless to say that everyone was glad to be finished with that last day, and now we all had some great teaching experience to take back to our main centers all over China.

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At the end of the day, all the teachers for dinner and drinks so that we could share our experiences of teaching a full day of classes. It was a great night that ended up in a KTV karoake bar. The friendships made during this training stayed with us even beyond our time in Beijing, and to this day, we all stay in touch to share ideas with each other.

When I came to China I didn’t know anyone, and I have several friends located all over China. Pretty cool.

Ready to Teach English in China at a First Leap Center

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After going through the First Leap training in Beijing, I now feel like I have solid experience teaching English in China to children, which will help me to be so much better at my job.  I came back to my school in Guangzhou with ideas on how to plan my lessons, and with more games to play.  The First Leap training was great, and really helped me out tremendously.  I felt ready to teach, and I met some pretty great people along the way.  Thanks to the great staff for all the help, and to everyone else for all the great memories!

*Visa Requirements vary based on different First Leap Centers all around China.  Ask your recruiter which center will fit with your qualifications. 

** Read more about how I found the best job teaching English in China with First Leap!

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54 thoughts on “Teaching English in China at First Leap – Training at HQ in Beijing, China”

  1. Hi ! Your blog is very interesting ! . I had a skype interview with Sally and they sent me a contract to work with first leap. Can I have your advice about the Zvisa and work permit ? Was it difficult to get ? How did you get organised ? Did they help you ?
    Thank you so much
    Great Blog !

    1. Hi Laura,

      I will send you a personal email to follow up, but all went well and they followed through on their word and I have a working Z Visa. Chat soon!


      1. Hello Josh,

        I am a Canadian coming to teach English in China in July 2018 with First Leap and I would like to know if its possible to be in communication with someone from Canada who is currently teaching in China?

        I have some questions and also it would be good to know how things are there.

        Thank you

  2. Hello Josh,
    Thank you for this entry. I was contacted by First Leap and will have a Skype interview soon. I am a little concerned because they warned me that I was not going to be able to see the interviewer although she was going to be able to see me. I don’t see why they would do this. Did they do the same to you? Was the interview held this way?

    1. Hi Esther. Nothing to be worried about. It seems you are going to be interviewing with a school director. They may not have a web camera for you to see them. It is OK. Some schools will just not have one, because they only use it for interviewing new foreign teachers. It’s ok. First Leap is a big legitimate company here in China and they will follow through on everything they say. Good luck on your interview. Please write back to let me know how it goes and where you maybe going. 🙂

  3. Hey Josh, wonderful article. I’m heading up to Beijing for training on the 8th of September. I would love to get in touch with you about your experience.

    Thank you!

  4. Hi there! Just found your guys site and I have been loving it!

    I do have a few questions, I really want to teach English in China and First Leap would definitely be my first choice (if I had much choice! ). I was wondering with First Leap, do they only consider applicants with a BA? Because I currently have an associates degree.

    Also, I am Asian but I grew up in Canada all my life (don’t speak much mandarin), would this limit me to be accepted to teaching jobs in China?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this message!

    1. Hi Diana,

      Thanks for reading. First Leap is great place to teach English in China. They would like it if you did have a BA, but they do not demand it in their teachers. If you have a great personally and fit all other needs they will accept you. If you would like I am sending you a personal email and I can put you in touch with my recruiter and help walk you through the process.

      Thanks again for reading and chat soon!


  5. hey josh ,

    i have my final interview with first leap in the morning i am very nervous and hope all goes well for me. Because i am under 24 they said i will need a M visa? do you know any other teachers that have gone out to china on a M visa?

    any advise or help would be greatly appreciated
    many thanks

    1. Hi Hannah,

      I personally have heard of others working on a M Visa here in China, but not with FL. I had spoke with our Head of International Teachers and mentioned this to her and she told me that there is a check list that they have to meet to be able to get Z Visa for teachers. There are some maneuvering around education requirements and experience, but not with age requirements. Being under 24 you will be required to get a M Visa. From my research you get all the same perks as a Z. You can travel freely in and out of China. The way I look at it is an independent contractor. It is a Business Visa. I could see how you could be a little uneasy, but my overall experience has been a good one with FL. Once you sign the contract you will be in touch with you own personal visa specialist that will help you get your visa to work legally in China. I hope this helps a little.


  6. Hey, apparently we must have just missed you we finished working for First Leap in January 2015 (I Even know a few of the people you mentioned) but I just wanted to add our experience so others who google First Leap know what to expect since we had a few different situations. So I just wanted to share my story for those of you in the situation we had or who may be wanting to head over and teach in China. I am from Canada if that helps anyone by the way and we both worked for First Leap English Schools for 10 months. First of all I went with my girlfriend who did not have a university degree but we both had part of a TEFL certificate (we were currently doing it but they did not really care about it) when we were hired prior to leaving Canada. We had to do 2 online interviews which were weird but gave us a lot of information on the company. We only ever half finished our TEFL certificate as we already had the job and time ran out on our course. Once we got to Beijing the culture shock happened immediately but lucky for us they had someone there to pick us up from the airport and they put us up in shared living apartment(for free) while we got 3 weeks of paid training. We did only have a tourist visa when we arrived (it was a double entry 90 day visa). It was okay for us to work under this tourist visa because the company had paid off the government to let it slide. The reason they do not issue work visas before you get there is because it is very expensive for the company to do without knowing if you will actually come and work for them. However about a month before we got there a couple of English teachers at our school did get arrested for working illegally with a tourist visa but since then they paid off the highest level of government and there was not a problem after that. Anyways we worked for a couple months then flew to Taiwan but we screwed up our flight dates and needed to get a 2 week extension on our tourist visa. Our First Leap Visa lady (Karen if she is still there) helped us get an extension but was unsure if they would let us because it is up to the person working if we get one our not. We luckily did and did not have to cancel our trip to Taiwan. However we screwed up again on our extension and it was for the day before our flight. Therefore we overstayed our visa by one day but they did not say anything when we left the country so we thought we were okay. Once we returned to the country we stayed for another couple months (still working on tourist visa) they paid for us to go to Hong Kong (actually did not pay for my girlfriends flight because she did not have a degree? which was weird but whatever) Once in Hong Kong we went to get our working visas (finally after about 6 months of working illegally) the man said we overstayed our visa when we went to Taiwan and we could not get a working visa until we show him a piece of paper that had a warning on it from when we left for Taiwan. We did not have a piece of paper they just let us through, so once we explained we were good to go.(Just freaked out) We got back to China with no problems luckily but we were working illegally for longer then we were working legally. All in all First Leap was a great company and I would recommend them to first time English teachers going to Beijing(or elsewhere they are pretty big). And no it does not matter if you have a degree (they will make a fake one for you) does not matter if you have TEFL and does not matter your age (supposed to be at least 25 I think?) Anyways they need English teachers and will pay the government off to get you over there working. It was sketchy but literally everyone we knew there was doing the same thing. Oh also they will forge resident permit(can’t remember the name) but you need one every time your visa changes and since we were there illegally they forged ours the whole time until we got our working Z visa. People also wonder what happens if you break your contract, well we originally were supposed to be there for 11 months which was hard to do but we convinced them that’s the longest we could stay, we then decided we wanted to go travelling before we came home so we gave them proper notice (like a month) and we just did not get our flight bonus for completing the contract we still got our last cheques after we were already gone and everything like that. Oh I almost forgot I did have a criminal record in Canada at the time for drinking and driving but that did not matter for the Z visa as long as you do not have one in China you were okay. The only downfall of First Leap is that some of there lessons are shit as most the people developing them have not actually taught before. Also the days off are very limited but they let you know that before hand so its not a surprise. So hope some of that info will help people in the same sketchy situation. Also I wish this information was there for me before I went! P.S shout out to the best AD James Zhang at Huatong centre in Beijing such a helpful guy!

    1. Hi Dylan,

      Thanks for your feedback and giving us all your insight on working with First Leap in Beijing. It’s always great to have another point of view and hear about other’s experiences too. Yeah, visa processes greatly vary from company to company here in China, and even within the same company. It all really depends on the branch (corporate or franchised), and each individual situation.

      When I arrived to start working for First Leap, I came in on a tourist visa too; but as soon as I started to work with First Leap, we started the Z visa process (this is not uncommon). As long as your Z Visa is being processed it is OK to work in the country. I know that on the first day of my training in Beijing, new teachers arriving at HQ began their training and Z visa process the first day.

      The biggest thing that I tell everyone is to make sure that you have them include that they will get you a working Z Visa as soon as you get into China on your contract (this is true for any school / company).

      As soon as you sign your contract you will be given a Visa Specialist. It is your responsibility to make sure you stay in contact with your specialist and keep the process moving. Things in Asia can easily stop moving along, whether it is a language barrier, communication problem, employee turnover, etc. I would touch base with my visa specialist daily for updates, even reminding her of the dates when I had to go to Hong Kong for a new “entry” on the tourist visa. Continuing to work on a tourist visa longterm is illegal – and is not advisable in any country in the world.

      It’s unfortunate to hear that you had trouble with visas and dates. That’s never fun! But making sure you don’t overstay a visa is critical for any country in the world, especially in China…because it can make it more difficult to get another visa in the future.

      After living in Asia for quite some time, we have learned that there are always ways around those “requirements.” Every country / company / local branch of a school will be different in how they handle things. Overall, if you have the qualities they are looking for, then they will do what they need to do to get you working (however, I don’t know their processes and can only speculate).

      I know that First Leap is a legitimate company in China. They don’t want to hurt their reputation or disrupt operations in their schools. So I’m confident they will do everything to follow all the major guidelines.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts, feelings, and your experience working with First Leap.

  7. Hey, I know this might be a little out of place, but I really need to know before I get started.
    How much is the pay??

    1. Hi Jay. It all depends on where in China you live and are placed. Normal starting for First Leap is around 9k total. That’s including housing. But then again it depends on what you work out and where in China you are.


  8. Hey Josh,

    I just finished going through the interview process two days ago. Our Skype connection was acting up, so instead of having to do a live teaching demo, they just had me send in a pre-recorded demo. I sent my video to Karen who then sent it to FL headquarters. I wanted to know how long did it take for them to get back with you on whether or not they wanted to hire you?

    1. Hi Ziyyah! That’s great to hear. That is one of the final steps to get an offer from First Leap. They might have asked you where you would prefer to live and teach. They should be currently reaching out to the centers around China to see who has a need for a teacher. Also the timing of when you want to come to China plays a factor also into placement. Just stay in touch with your recruiter and they should be able to help you out with the process. If you are looking for something soon, Beijing is always hiring ASAP because that is where a majority of the centers are located. Hope that helps a little. Let me know if you have any more questions.


  9. Hi Josh,

    I am so excited that I stumbled upon your blog! I have an interview on Saturday, should I prepare anything?
    I’m really excited to get started with my work overseas and my travels!

    1. Hi Matthew,

      Congrats on the interview. The main thing with the sky interview is to keep your lesson simple. It is mainly to see how you pronounce your keywords. So keep it simple. I used colors. Another good one would be shapes, long, short, big, small… Just be yourself. Let us know how it goes.

      Good luck!

  10. Hi Josh,
    Found your article online when researching First Leap and found this very interesting!
    I have my first interview tomorrow and was wondering if you would have any advise?
    Many thanks

    1. Hi Sinead. Congrats on getting this far. During your interview I would recommend that you keep it simple and just be yourself. They might ask you to do a demo class. I would recommend that you keep it simple. 4 key words. You can use colors, shapes, big/small… Something along those lines and just make sure you speak clearly and the rest should go smoothly.

      I wish you the best of luck and let me know if you have further questions.

      All the best!


  11. Hey Josh,

    I’m thinking of going to Nanjing, though I would have to get my own place to live there. Did you or did you hear of how they help you find a place? Is it easy to find a decent place quickly? Do they help you all the way? And when you fill out the form for preferred housing, do they look for you with what you fill in so the company has places lined up for you when you arrive? Hope to hear from you soon, I’ve just sent my second interview video!

    Many thanks,


    1. Hi Ross,

      Congrats on getting an offer from First Leap. Nanjing will be lots of fun for you. I have several friends in Nanjing and they love it. One of my buddies just signed up for another year he loves it so much. Each center is different and I can only speak on my experience. My Academic Director is just awesome and she helped Liz and I get acquired with everything from phone, bank, and apartment. Once you have signed your contract and have a firm date of your arrival they will start looking for a place for you. If I were you, once I have signed my contract and have a firm date then get in touch with your AD or she may beat you to the punch and then just start a conversation about what you want to pay and what you are looking for in an apartment. Once you are there then reach out to your fellow Chinese Teachers for help. They all will speak great english and they will be more than willing to help. Also it is a great way to get to know then. You will be working closely with them on a daily bases so it is good to get to know them and get a little help from them as well.

      I hope this helps a little and don’t hesitate to shoot me a message if you have anymore detail questions to help get you acquired to Chinese living.



  12. Patrick Kiarie

    Hi Josh, finding this Blog was the best thing that has happened to me in a long frustrating while, i am Kenyan and i have friends in China Teaching English ( Education system in Kenya is either British or American so a large percentage of the population speak fluent English ) i have a Bachelors in Education and will be getting my TEFL certification in a few weeks, however my biggest problem is finding work, my friends tell me my best chances is if i was in China, rather than applying for the jobs online. Would you know if First Leap places Kenyan teachers.
    Your advice would really be of great help.
    And i love the blog, quite informative.
    Be well.

    1. Wow! Thanks Patrick, you have made our day. I know First Leap is always looking for good people/teachers. I don’t know for sure if they have hired anyone specifically from Kenya. Traditionally people in China are looking for the UK, America, Australian, but they have hired teachers from South Africa and Ireland. My replacement was from South Africa. I think you would be good at finding employment in Beijing, but there might be smaller schools that might need teachers too. But Beijing for sure. If you want to I can help you in trying to find employment in China with First Leap. First Leap is a great company and I am sure they can find a good match with your teaching skills.

      Chat Soon!

  13. Hi, I’m currently in the middle of the application process for First Leap, I’m glad I’ve found this blog as the other reviews I have come across regarding First Leap are quite negative. Would you mind if I contacted you as I have a few questions regarding them?

  14. Hi Josh. Thank you for this great blog post. My boyfriend and I have been offered jobs wit First Leap in Nanjing and I would really like to get in touch with you to ask you some questions.

    1. Hi Lisa,

      Congrats on the job offer. I thought the same thing when I was going through the hiring process with First Leap, but after digging a little deeper and talking with current teachers I was OK with moving forward with working with them. They are a real company. I would highly recommend doing your own research on the requirements of working obtaining a working Z Visa for China. If you find anything different what your recruiter is telling you then bring it up. Also ask questions and know that there are no bad questions. Ask if you can speak to a current teacher at the center that want to place you at. It is good to get know them anyway because they will help you in adjusting to your new surroundings. Hope that helps. Please feel free to email me if you have any further questions.



  15. Hi there. Thanks for this article. Very helpful. I was hired by FL and am just waiting for my work visa to come through. I guess it’s a new thing, but coming in on a tourist visa was not even an option. Maybe this is due to the recent changes to the work visa process (and new classifications)? They were also pretty strict about having a college degree and completed TEFL course/certificate.

    1. Hi Chelsea.

      Welcome to the FL family. Yeah they have changed the visa requirements and have rightly become more strict with it. Some centers you are able to get different visas based on the the different regions in China. you did the right thing by waiting, but you could have also came here on a Tourist I think. Usually in training they get everyone on the same page and start visa process and even take trips to get registered and all that. So you will be ahead of the process and maybe more free time to check out Beijing. Stay in touch and let us know how it goes. My WeChat is joshwilson52 Have fun and safe travels!


  16. Thanks for the informative blog.Been invited for an interview this Monday.

    May you please clarify if the two interviews are done on different days or its on the same day one after the other.Thanks.

    1. Hi Ed.

      Congrats on getting selected for an interview. Yes usually you will have round 1 & 2 of interviews on different days. Usually they will want you to prepare a mock class lesson for #2. There should be some examples of that on First Leap’s YouTube channel. Hope all goes well. Please let me know if you need anything or have any questions. Best of Luck!


  17. Hi. Thanks for the great information. I have been tutoring English and French as well as employee training and language services for 17 years in the UK, France, Hong Kong and currently Thailand.
    I am TESOL qualified but I did not complete my degree.
    I would ideally want to live and work in China. I have an offer from one company but First Leap seems more established. Do you think they would still consider my application?
    Many thanks for any tips!

    1. Hi Dani,

      Thanks for reaching out. Yes First Leap is well more established and a great company to work for. I think they will love to talk with you more about working and living in China. I will reach out to you separately to put you in direct contact with one of our head recruiters to help answer all your questions and see if First Leap is right for you.



  18. Hey Josh. I’m from South Africa.I have received an offer today from First Leap China and will be placed in a city called Shijizhuang. (Approximately an hour and a half train ride away from Beijing) The contract offer does not seem legit as each of the benefits are written in paragraph form and not like a real contract. They have sent through a handbook to explain thoroughly about the process of First Leap China. I am doing homework on the company before accepting the offer and starting the visa process, however it is really hard to find legit reviews. They have stipulated an amount after tax, however would you know if I will be be taxed when I return to South Africa? (after my one year contract) Look forward to your response.
    Regards Nehal

  19. Hi Josh. I’m from South Africa. Perhaps I’m being paranoid but the contract offer from First Leap China does not seem legit as each benefit is written as though it is one paragraph. Secondly, the salary indicates an amount that is after tax. I know that South Africa and China have a double tax agreement, however would I need to pay South African tax upon my return to South Africa? I notice that you are from the US and I’m not sure the tax implications on your side, but did you have to pay tax when you returned to the US? Looking forward to your response. Regards Nehal

    1. Hi Nehal,

      Thanks for reaching out. When I was a teacher at a franchise center I did have to pay taxes for my time in China. Times have changed a lot since I was a teacher and things are more legit than some companies in China. I think this is a question for your tax people in South Africa. First Leap is a legit company and you will see that as soon as you land in China and see the new HQ in Beijing. Congrats on the offer. Sorry I couldn’t be of more help in this subject.


  20. Hey Josh!

    Thanks for a very informative post. Information on this topic is rather scarce, so I appreciate someone taking the time to write about their experience teaching at a specific company.

    I just have a question related to vacation days at First Leap. Do you get more than just the national holidays?

    And on a side note, do you perhaps know if FL has a school in Hangzhou? I’ve been struggling a bit to find out that information.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Hi Amanda,

      You can possibly get vacation days by asking well in advance. You do get several weeks during the Chinese New Year and you get about a week during Mid-Autumn Festival. Other than that you can get some days if you talk with your AD on days you need. On a school in Hangzhou I do not believe they have a center there.

      Hope that helps.


  21. Hey, thank you for such an informative write-up! I’ve finished my interviews with First Leap and am ready to accept the contract. But there’s one thing I can’t find much information on: in the compensation break-down, 3000RMB is only paid if you make your bonus or “kpi targets”. Is that something that you dealt with? If so, how easy, or hard, was it for you to get your bonus’ every month? Thanks!

  22. Thank you for such a detailed write-up! I have one question for you, I’m looking to start at First Leap, but part of the salary is based on a bonus for meeting your KPI (Key Performance Index). I can’t find much information on what the KPI targets are. Could you tell me how hard they were for you to make, if you had them as part of your salary? Thanks!

    1. Hi Byron,

      Thanks for stopping by the site. KPI was not hard to make. Every center is really different on how thorough they do their KPI. For me there were no issues with me getting my KPI. Hope that helps a little bit.

  23. Wisdom Xornam Ativi

    Thank you so much for your article Josh. I am a Ghanaian and a passionate teacher. I have a BSc degree in ICT education but love to teach English a lot. I would really love to join the FL family and would need your help in getting me your recruiter. Am very fluent in English and can teach it very well too. My only problem is that, am not a native speaker which is one of the requirements I’ve always read online. I really need your help ASAP.

    1. Hello – thanks for reading. It’s nice to meet you. You are correct, many schools in China require that English teachers be native speakers — this is a quality control by the government in China, and it is related to working visas mostly. Feel free to send us an email on the “Contact Us” page and we can share some information with you.


  24. Did you ever have a problem with them paying you your whole pay check that’s the only thing I’m worried about I read so many reviews saying they would only pay half of what the contract promised and overworked you and couldn’t say nothing cause they were working on a m visa

    1. Anthony –

      Thanks for reading and for the question! No, we never had any payment issues. We worked both worked the hours they specified and got paid exactly what they promised. No problems, and no delays with payments from either of our schools (we worked at different schools). I don’t know the situation with the M visa, because we were both on a legal Z visa — which is technically the best and most legal option for teachers.

      Take care,

  25. Thank you so much for sharing and bing a resource. I am still in the early stages and just have a few questions.

    1. How long does the matching/interviewing process normally take?
    2. How long did it take to get the Z visa?
    3. How many days per week and hours per day is a typical teaching assignment schedule?

    1. Hello Mesha – thanks so much for reading and for commenting on the post!

      Have you already applied with First Leap? Perhaps I can assist if you are waiting to hear back from them.

      While the situation can depend, typically there is ALWAYS a need for teachers at First Leap because they are a big school with many locations. The interview process may only take a couple weeks or so at the most (depending on how quickly you can schedule your interview and make your video demo).

      The really delay comes down to the visa process – because it can take a month or a couple months to complete. Once you sign your offer, you will need to track down quite a bit of paperwork (like degrees, background checks, health checks, TEFL certificates, etc.) and you will need to get them notorized / authenticated too. This can take some time to arrange. Then these items need to be sent off to the Embassy / Consulate for processing.

      Even when you get your Z visa back in your passport, you still have work to do when you arrive in China. You will need to register at the entry/exit bureau to process your “residence permit” and you’ll need to register at the police station too. Overall, it can definitely take some time.

      The First Leap Team works with a sister company to hire / process visas. They have a couple really good articles all about the documents you need for your visa, as well as all the steps you need to complete. Here are the links:

      – https://careerchina.com/blog/Get-Your-Working-Visa-for-China.html
      – https://careerchina.com/blog/Documents-for-Your-Chinese-Working-Visa.html

      As far as your schedule, at First Leap international teachers work 5 days per week (Wednesday through Sunday – with Mon/Tues off). Hours per day will vary, weekdays are less intense and you will work in the afternoons until about 8 pm and on weekends from 9-6 pm. This is because First Leap is an after school institute — so the hours are primarily weeknights and weekends can be quite busy. But it’s actually nice having Mon/Tues off because it’s less busy when you go out to do things! Classes are just less than 1 hour, and the number of classes could vary each day. You may only have a few classes a day during the week, which leaves you with quite a lot of planning time. But on the weekends, things may be busier.

      Overall, your schedule will vary. However, the lessons are pre-made for you, all you need to do is come up with a fun activity (and they have resources to help you do that). After a while, you will know many of the classes by heart and preparing becomes quite easy.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to let us know if you have any other questions.

      Take care,

  26. Hi Josh and Liz!

    I found out about First Leap through the MUSE and applied through that website.

    Had I seen this blog,I would have went through you and Liz’s site.

    I have started the application process and will interview with Maggie

    I am seeking more clarity regarding obtaining the TEFL certification. I have a BA with a substitute teacher state permit and over 10 years of experience working with children- of which I love!

    Thank you both for this blog and community!

    1. Hello Jael – thanks for reaching out to us.

      With regard to the TEFL certificate, it’s only needed if you don’t have a degree in teaching and if you don’t have experience actually teaching in a classroom for 2 years. If you have those things, then a TEFL isn’t required.

      Of course, the team in China can better advise on the TEFL. If they say you do need it, then I know there are a number of options available for getting the certificate. However, not all TEFL programs are created equal. Some of the really cheap online TEFL’s are not accepted in China (and many other countries too). Overall, a lot of the online programs that are at least 120 hours and around the $400 – $600 range are often accepted as long as the actual certificate doesn’t say “ONLINE TEFL” — that usually is not accepted in China. Sometimes you can get a sample of the certificate to show your recruiter before you take the class to see if it will be acceptable.

      You can apply and go through a lot of the interview process without having the TEFL finished, but you will need to finish it before you apply for your Chinese working visa.

      I hope this helps. Thanks for reading & good luck!


    1. Thanks – it’s been a great experience, and we’re fortunate enough to continue this journey by helping others who want to come to China to teach at First Leap and many other schools.

      It’s been an amazing ride! 🙂


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