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Many Expats unqualified for language teaching

The huge numbers of unqualified foreign language teachers in China


A new CCTV report catchily titled ‘Expats unqualified for language teaching in China?’ appeared on August 30, and is already bringing controversy to China’s expat bubble.  As more foreigners seek jobs in China as English language teachers, there is a growing need for supervision in China’s language teaching market. Currently, many foreign teachers in China are not as qualified as they claim.

The report explains the legal regulation that any potential English teacher should go through; to teach legally a foreigner must apply for foreign expert certificate, go to the local public security bureau for a work permit, and should not be teaching part-time elsewhere. Though these regulations are far from new, they are often not adhered to. Many teachers do not have an actual teaching certificate, with many not even being English native speakers.

“To be a foreign expert, one must be healthy and have no criminal record in his home country,” says Lang Xianbo from the Foreign experts affairs bureau in Heilongjiang. “He also needs to have a bachelor degree and two years teaching experience, if a foreign teacher doesn’t have a foreign expert certificate, it means their qualifications have not been checked.”

CCTV often brings attention and controversy due to their reports, and now there is a fear that this could be the beginning of a crackdown on foreign teachers. The problem is partly fueled by the fact that many Chinese language learners simply want to see a foreign (preferably white) face when they pay for a foreign language class, regardless of teaching qualifications. In such a climate it is hardly surprising schools are keen to take advantage of demand and are, at times, willing to employ pretty much anyone and everyone available.

Images taken from CCTV

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