China may phase out non native speaker expat English teachers

Published:  9 Jan at 6 PM
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Following its testing late last year of a three-tier work permit system, China is looking to rid itself of non-native English language teachers.

The new three-tier system, at present on trial in Beijing Shanghai, Tianjin and other major cities, classifies expat workers into three classes of expat, A, B and C. The rules include a requirement that all foreign English teachers must be native speakers and have a bachelors’ degree as well as two years’ formal teaching experience.

However, a good number of Chinese schools seem to be able to bend the rules and employ expats without insiting on the necessary requirements. At present, the exact definition of ‘native English speaker’ as regards country of origin is not being made clear, and other details of the new rules are sparse.

Given the huge country’s need for English teachers, stringent application of the new rules may not be possible, especially outside the main metropolitan areas. In an interview with the Global Times, one Filipino teacher at present working in Beijing said he was worried about losing his position and not being able to find another job as he is a non-native English speaker.

It’s believed China's large number of less than professional English language schools are the targets of the new law, although finding ways to evade new regulations and carry on as before isn’t that difficult. The policy’s critics believe the law will bring a decrease in the quality of English being taught in China, as higher salaries for native speakers will price out schools outside the major cities, leading to a lack of professional expat teachers of English in lower-tier cities. An alternative would be a licensing exam to prove the ability and experience of expat non-native English teachers, thus ensuring a high standard of English language education across the country as well as avoidng a crucial shortage of teachers.
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