Do NOT Teach English in China and Why EVERYONE Should Read This: Part 2

A couple years ago we wrote in Do NOT Teach English in China and Why EVERYONE Should Read This:

If you are thinking about taking a job teaching English in China, my strong advice is DON’T DO IT. Look for such a job in Vietnam or Thailand or Japan or Spain or Mexico or Colombia or Brazil or the Czech Republic or really just about anywhere else in the world. I say this because teaching English in China has become that corrupt, that horrible, that exploitive, and that risky.

Not surprisingly, that post generated many comments, here and elsewhere on the Internet. To grossly summarize, those with experience teaching in China tended to agree with us and those whose livelihoods depended on China mostly disagreed with us. The below is my update to that post.

1. China’s New Measures for Teaching English in China

The Chinese government has passed new measures both addressing some of the problems in this sector and increasing its control over this sector. Spoiler alert: If you want to teach English to children, you still should absolutely not go to China.

China’s Ministry of Education released the Measures for the Hiring and Management of Foreign Teachers to the public for comments last year. These new Measures codify these requirements and add many new ones. Foreign teachers are now required to have a bachelor’s degree or higher and two or more years of teaching experience. The Measures state that the behavior of foreign teachers are being logged into China’s social credit systems and will be used to determine teacher integrity or and trustworthiness.

The Measures also state that certain behaviors can lead to a ban on future employment. This includes teachers using “words and deeds that damage China’s national sovereignty, security, honor, and public interests.” These Measures are increasingly being enforced and I expect that will continue. The Measures apply to foreign teachers working with Chinese students and to foreign teachers working in Schools for Children of Foreign Workers, which enroll only foreign, non-Chinese students. The Measures will make it increasingly challenging for schools to hire qualified foreigners with clean social credit records.

The Chinese government’s purported rationale for needing greater oversight of foreign teachers is to clean up China’s education sector and to regain full control over all education being delivered to its children. It is estimated that over 50% of foreigners working in China lack valid work visas and/or residence permits. This is due to China deliberately making obtaining these visas/permits difficult and complicated. The CCP wants to regain control of China’s education sector to ensure that foreign teachers are qualified and will not teach “subversive” foreign ideas. See Shanghai Bans English Exams Amid Calls For Less English Teaching.

Many of those working in China’s education sector also lack proper visas and/or residence permits. I know this from my prior life heading up the China operation for a massive international school company. In that role, I saw that huge numbers of teachers in China were there without proper visas.

2. Other Factors Making Teaching English in China Even Worse

Earlier this year, the General Office for the Chinese Communist Party issued Opinions on Further Reducing the Burden of Students’ Homework and Off-campus Training in Compulsory Education. The Opinions are already impacting the private education sector. The CCP recently mandated that after-school tutoring hours be drastically reduced. This has forced many education companies in China to reduce or cancel their tutoring offerings.

The tougher standards required for foreign teachers to obtain work visas, not allowing foreigners to start working until their visa has been issued, and increasing crackdowns on those without proper visas have combined to make it very difficult for foreigners to teach in China. Not to mention the near impossibility of any foreigner getting into China these days because of COVID. All these things have led to a marked decrease in foreign teachers, which is exactly what the CCP wants.

3. What Does All This Mean?

When you add in the above with all of the problems English teachers experience when they actually get to China (as documented in Part 1 of this series), and you have to ask, why even bother?

So how is the above relevant for non-teachers and why are we calling on “everyone” to read this? Because the way China treats  foreign teachers has always been a reflection and a harbinger of how it treats all foreigners.

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