In its continuing crackdown against the scourge of unskilled laowai, China is attempting to start phasing out non-native English teachers from its schools.
Back in October, China infamously began testing out a brand new work permit system that would neatly classify foreign workers into three distinct categories: A, B and C expats. That system is currently being rolled out in Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and other places first, before it expands farther afield in April.
Apparently, one part of this new system is a rule that mandates all foreign English teachers must be native English speakers — along with holding a bachelor’s degree from their home country and having two years of teaching experience.
Prior to this, you officially only needed a bachelor’s degree from an English-speaking country and two years of teaching experience to qualify for a proper work visa. While many institutions were able to bend the rules and hire candidates with far fewer qualifications than that.
So far, details of the new policy are scarce. It’s not clear how many countries will qualify as “native English-speaking.” The Global Times speaks to Noli Castillano Apachicha, a Filipino English teacher in Beijing who is worried about losing his job.
“I expect that later on, I will not be qualified for my job because of this new regulation,” he said. “It will also shun many qualified non-native speakers like me who hope to come to teach English in China.”
However, considering China’s massive need for foreign English teachers, it’s not clear how stringently this new rule will be implemented and how far it will spread. Critics of the policy point out how it will almost certainly lead to an overall decrease in the quality of English teaching in China with higher salaries for native speakers pricing schools in lower-tier cities out of the foreign expert market.
Meanwhile, dodgy English language training centers that this rule is obviously aimed at will simply find ways around the new regulations and continue with business as usual. For instance, back in November, one shady Shanghai training center got in trouble with parents after a Russian English teacher decided to tape some of her students’ mouth shut. The woman had been working at the school for a year, despite only having received her work permit in October.
Critical of the rule, Apachicha advocates that the government should find ways of looking more closely at a teacher’s knowledge and skill rather than his/her place of birth.
“Why not give teachers a licensing examination to ensure the quality of education being received from Chinese students? It doesn’t matter if you are native or non-native; credit should be given to all great teachers no matter their nationality,” he said.
[Images via The Culture Map]
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