Monday, February 26, 2007

A Chinese teacher on foreign teachers in China

Hong Xiu Ping, Gateway Language Village, Zhuhai, China

I have often heard comments from Chinese teachers that foreigners do not know how to teach English. They are hired by many schools just for the face value. Even some Russians are teaching English in a private school in Shenzhen because they look western. Parents are paying top dollars sending their kids to this kind of school and they want western looking teachers to teach their kids. Asian looking teachers, whether native speakers or experienced Chinese teachers are often treated as second class teachers. This is not healthy but it happens often.

We have a very mixed team. We have Chinese teachers from China as well as from Hong Kong, USA. We also have a few teachers from India. One of the most popular teacher we have is from India. We use Chinese teachers to teach beginner students and we use native speakers to teach elementary and above. Yes, native speakers without qualifications and esl experiences are used as teaching assistants to act as conversation partners for students. Once they gain enough experience, they can be promoted to teacher positions.

As we only admit adults or youth above 16 years old, we normally do not need to deal with some ignorant and prejudiced parents who demand for western looking teachers with American accent or British accent. Students are not allowed to choose their teachers in our school. They are assigned to the class according to their level.

Personally, I believe native speakers are indispensable for language study. To be fluent and proficient, one needs to learn many things from native speakers, not just vocabulary and grammar. No matter how experienced they are, non native language teachers can not provide all the language elements the students need. A good native English teacher is one who can teach different level students, even the very beginner

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