Should China enforce tighter rules on foreign teachers?

Editor’s note: China has raised its thresholds for foreigner teachers, given that some foreigners claiming to be English teachers are unqualified for the position. It has been rumored that in a few years all foreign teachers in Beijing must have at least five years’ teaching experience and teacher qualifications or other international language teaching qualification certificates, such as TEFL and TESOL. Is it necessary to tighten the requirements for foreign teachers? You are welcome to voice your opinion.

– vorgal78 (Australia)

I am an ESL teacher. I have taught and lived in china twice. I think it is a great place, most of the time. I have met a lot of other foreigners who teach English over there and sometimes I wonder why I have invested so much of my time in educating myself to be a better teacher when anyone seems to be able to get a teaching job. Well, after thinking about it for a long time I realized that if the Chinese people are not happy about the situation then they should petition their government to change the situation. Raise the level of standards required to teach in China. Of course, if you pay to learn conversational English then don’t expect people with a master’s degree to teach you for less than they could earn back home. To all of those people who do want to learn, remember that anyone can teach you something, you just have to be open to the lessons, whatever they are.

– jiaoziyumyum (Australia)

Five years experience is too much! The demand for teachers far outweighs the supply as it is already! Also, a teacher with five years experience in their own English speaking country would be far less likely to pick up and leave to teach overseas. After five years of teaching in Australia, for example, the salary has already been raised significantly.

– Golddragon07 (US)

I have lived in China for five years, and I am an English teacher at a public senior high school. I have worked in training centers before and the main reason I left them is that, yes, they are only concerned about how much money they can make from the Chinese people. This is not the foreigners fault, this is the Chinese people behind it and they only want money and don’t really care if you learn or not. This is why some don’t care if you are qualified or not. They hire anyone they can get their hands on, qualified or not

– xieyang (China)

I had 10 foreign teachers in my secondary school, all of them conversation teachers. In retrospect, their command of English differs significantly, some had a richer and more refined vocabulary, and others tended to speak in a more colloquial manner. But I think it’s also part of learning to know the differences among native speakers themselves.

Also what I have learned from those foreign teachers is, apart from the language itself, is the culture they come from. It was my first real encounter with Western culture, which I had previously only known from books. The foreign teachers are, each in their own way, an embodiment of their culture. They may not realize it themselves, but by simply being with us, by being physically present, they deliver to us a picture of how Westerners really are and think and how they differ from us Chinese. So my point is that academic credentials aren’t that important. Each foreign teacher can be an enrichment to our experience.

– renegadedog9 (UK)

This is true with ESL teachers in every country, though. ESL teachers are never qualified; they usually have a BA (in anything) plus the CELTA certificate in Teaching English to Adults. This is certainly true of me. If I were a fully qualified teacher, I could earn double my current salary at an international school.

– freakyqi (US)

I do not have teacher certification, but I have 6-7yrs experience teaching all sorts of things part time. I know I’m good, I’ve gotten tons of feedback, from written surveys to gifts & lunches & hugs. But I also know that I would not be good in a huge-class situation. If you want me to teach almost-extinct grammar rules to 50+ people who are just sitting there staring at me for 50 minutes, I’m not going to be at my best. And to be honest, in THAT situation I’d need to relearn some grammar myself! Just because I can speak English properly doesn’t mean I can explain WHY I am saying things the way I am! So I think the jobs should be more specifically suited to each teacher, with interviews by native English speakers, preferably teachers, who can see the person’s real abilities regardless of their degree.

– nanyanglady8 (China)

Standards need to be raised, not lowered. If we are talking about teaching college, I think a BA is not good enough; even if it is mere conversational English. Of course there are horrible teachers coming to China who have no real teaching experience, but the blame is not on the main requirements an institution of higher learning should have on its teachers. We do need qualified MA, MS and Phd candidates to teach at our schools in China from ALL English countries! The qualified teacher can teach proper cultural communications and the average Chinese student can gain very valuable understanding insight that they never understood before. A real class, not a chit chat fun time with a person who did not have any practical applied experience.

– Sayallucan (Philippines)

If you are Chinese, travel to the west seeking for teaching position, you can be assured that you will be subject to many regulatory factors before you get employment status. Whilst many Europeans & Americans are facing economic turbulences in their native country, they travel across here with a piece of luggage and honing their language skill in China and most Chinese naively get hooked that they are indeed the answer to their lack of English language linguistic skills. Do always remember, not all whites are doing the right thing in China. usually the highly skillful ones would never leave their motherland as they would have the capability to make a decent living in the place where they originated. So the only ones that flocked their feathers and teach English in China trying to make some decent bucks to stay financially healthy may not be ideally the one you should pursue the language skill you require

– TedM (UK)

Teaching is a profession with professional standards. Teachers have enormous responsibilities. It follows that a teacher should be required to meet and keep strict standards. Developing countries are often keen to attract native English speakers to teach English and can be casual in who they allow to work. Often such teachers are excellent, but a few may have no qualifications and/or no experience, and little knowledge of teaching skills. Teaching English abroad has been an attraction to many university graduates who wish to travel the world … but they stay only for a short time before moving on. Sometimes their lessons are rather shallow and unprepared. Any move to check the value of foreign people who wish to teach abroad is probably a good thing.

– rick45 (US)

As an American living in China, I’ve seen far too many “teachers” who would never be allowed to teach in their home nation. Many have minimal education (BA, etc.), little real experience, and seem to use “teaching” as an excuse to stay here under a work visa.

I would never try to teach English, for example, because I am not an English major. I do hold two earned Ph.D. degrees from nationally recognized universities in the U.S.; I have taught as a college professor for seven years in the U.S.; and I have 35+ years experience (include a P.E. license) – so I would feel qualified to teach in my area of expertise, but not English, even if it is my native language.

I feel the central and local governments need to do more about the credentials of the foreign “teachers”. However, I do not agree that they should hold “teachers’ certificates” since these are mostly proof of taking education courses rather than subject matter courses. Teachers should have education and experience in their subject.

What do you think? Leave a comment on Linkedin and let me know your thoughts!

(Credit: China Daily, Photo Credit: Hangzhou Xiasha Middle School)

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