Teaching English in China - Debunking the Myths

 Violet Alejo
  9th-Sep-2017
 397

Conduct a Google search on "teaching English in China" and what you will find is over 54 million results listing internet sites mainly from China job recruiters, TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) certification schools, EFL forums, and "cultural exchange programs," i.e., glorified recruitment agencies, all of which stand to achieve an incredible deal from convincing Westerners that moving to China to teach oral English is definitely an opportunity and adventure of a lifetime. When it is commonly correct that an EFL teaching position might be a very good approach to subsidize one's travel costs to exotic places around the globe, it's totally disingenuous of anybody to suggest to you that undertaking so tends to make sense as a new and permanent mid-career move.

This short article will debunk some of the most typical myths you will study about teaching English in China and can argue that doing so ought to only be deemed by a really limited variety of individuals who meet the criteria outlined beneath. It is actually written by an American psychoanalyst who has been operating in China due to the fact 2003 as a mental well being consultant and professor of psychology.

Myth #1: All Chinese Desperately Wish to Find out English and will Use It in Their Everyday Lives

China's educational technique was fully overhauled in 1979 to realize the goals of the Chinese Communist Party's 1978 reform movement, adopted in the Third Plenum in the 11th Central Committee, in what is commonly known as the Four Modernizations. These Four Modernizations were within the fields of 1) agriculture, 2) industry, 3) technologies, and 4) defense and were especially intended to produce China a fantastic and self-reliant economic power by the early 21st century (Wertz, 1998).

Nowhere amongst these 4 broad fields will you find English as a foreign language or any of your humanities for that matter. The truth is that English as a foreign language has very low status as an academic discipline in China. It really is primarily assigned as a compulsory course of study to incoming freshmen who scored as well poorly on the national college admission test (Gao Kao) to receive their requested major inside a much more profitable field.

Unless the students have definite plans--as effectively as considerable funding--to study abroad one particular day, hope to function for an international corporation, or intend to marry a foreigner, they are going to by no means use even one word of English for the remainder of their lives following graduating from college. In actual fact, in a land of 1.3 billion folks, Chinese, not English, would be the most commonly spoken language in the world nowadays. Lots of of us that have lived and worked in China for years have come towards the realization that what the Chinese truly want is for the rest in the planet to learn Chinese--and that wish may come to pass a single day as the Middle Kingdom continues its unbridled rise as an economic globe power.

Foreign English teachers are recruited as competitively as they are to fulfill a highly resented and bitterly contested national requirement promulgated by the Ministry of Education that mandates exposure to a native speaker for all students of foreign languages. Apart from public schools and universities, the proliferation of private language schools--where the greatest abuses and exploitation of foreigners occur--has designed an insatiable demand for white faces within the classroom to attract new students and command larger tuition fees effectively above what can be charged for classes with their Chinese English teachers only.

What you might want to bear in mind is that because the teaching and finding out of English in China is devalued by China's academic leaders and administrators, the part on the foreign English teacher is de-professionalized: It really is restricted to facilitating the students' speaking and listening capabilities, with extremely few exceptions. Irrespective of whether a foreign teacher holds a PhD in linguistics using a specialty in second language acquisition methodology or is a recent college graduate with tiny or no relevant operate practical experience, within the vast majority of situations, each might be assigned to teach precisely the exact same classes using a salary differential of no extra than 700 yuan ($102.00) per month.

Myth #2: A Foreign Teacher Can Reside Really Comfortably around the Salary Offered and may Even Save Funds

The average salary of a foreign English teacher in China--outside of Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou--is inside the array of 4,000 to 6,000 yuan monthly ($584 to $876, respectively) for 14 to 20 hours of face-to-face teaching per week (Mavrides, 2009). Even though it truly is correct that this salary represents up to 70 % a lot more than the current national per capita revenue of 1,800 yuan (Economy Watch, 2009), that doesn't mean incredibly a lot unless you will be willing to live as in the event you were Chinese.

Though it truly is achievable to save up to one-third of the standard salary of five,000 yuan per month, you'll have to live very frugally to perform so, which suggests absolutely forgoing all Western foods and amenities, and carefully restricting your use of utilities, specifically air conditioning. One example is, a single can of Campbell's Cream of Chicken Soup sells for $3.21 (22 yuan) at a nearby Western grocery shop in Guangzhou and that comparative price tag ratio of 2 to 1 is relatively continuous across all imported goods in China, should you are even fortunate adequate to discover them at all (and also you will not outside of China's 3 aforementioned international cities). Moreover, Western brand name appliances and individual electronics will usually expense as a great deal in China as they do back house, often slightly far more, and you'll generally be obtaining very sophisticated clones, i.e., counterfeit items that will not final nearly so long as the genuine articles do.

The reality is that any Westerner who lived a middle-class existence back property will just barely subsist around the standard salary afforded to most foreign oral English teachers in China. Even when you will be self-depriving sufficient to save some funds, those savings will rapidly disappear in case you determine to travel or if you come to be seriously ill (real overall health insurance coverage just isn't provided, only accidental injury insurance coverage is). Most foreign English teachers in China moonlight and they do not do so because they can not get adequate of it.

Aside from salary issues, you also ought to be aware that the "free" housing supplied to foreign English teachers varies significantly in size and top quality, and is most generally standard right now of what the Chinese operating poor live in, i.e., little (580 to 900 square feet), old, and rundown units in eight-story buildings with out elevators, and with hot water available only for showering. You'll have to develop accustomed to washing your hands, too as the dishes, in cold water unless you decide to buy water heating units for the bathroom and kitchen sinks at your own expense, and also you can program on receiving lots of workout specifically in case your apartment is on the eighth floor.

Myth #3: Teaching English in China is Enjoyable, Straightforward, and Personally Rewarding

The reality is the fact that teaching English in China is extremely tiring and challenging operate, and, for the most component, it is actually a thankless job. Even though students who think they are going to use English one particular day may have already acquired affordable speaking and listening expertise, the majority of your students won't have the ability to have an understanding of you at all unless you speak really gradually and use basic vocabulary. However, this is not only true of one's students but will also be the case when attempting to communicate with your colleagues, administrators, and just about everyone else you'll have contact with in China unless, of course, that other person can also be a foreigner.

It's hugely unlikely that anyone apart from a career EFL/ESL teacher will uncover the operate to be personally or professionally rewarding, nor will any individual but an educator with a master's degree and state teaching certification be capable of make a actual living at it--and only then by teaching at an international college, a joint-venture plan, or maybe a Western university using a branch in China.

Myth #4: Every Native Speaker Can and Need to Teach English in China

There are actually 4 groups of Westerners for whom teaching English in China can make sense: 1) recent college graduates who would like to study Chinese or achieve some travel expertise ahead of returning property to resume their genuine careers; 2) active senior citizens in pretty fantastic wellness seeking for a short-term adventure (four to six months); 3) retired persons looking for to stretch their Western pensions in an Asian country and, as previously talked about; 4) career EFL teachers who will either be operating as college and plan directors, or in venues only available to fully credentialed and licensed educators.

For anyone else, particularly middle-aged and mid-career individuals devoid of considerable signifies, moving to China to teach English will most likely render you an financial prisoner with the Asian EFL program: You will be stuck spending the rest of one's life teaching English as a foreign language with no savings, moving from position to position, possibly country to nation, within the hope of getting greener pastures and forever cursing the day you decided to teach inglés in China.

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