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Expat English Teachers Are Losers ?


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I'm surfing the web and am coming  across articles saying esl teachers are losers. Apparently, we are looked down upon by the Chinese. Im not too shocked. I'm apart of an expat group on wechat and 2 weeks ago a member posted child porn. He was removed from the group and deported. I noticed others in the group seemed off...


 I have a 4 year degree and rarely drink or party and take my time job interview seriously. 

Is there anything I can do to combat these stereotypes ?


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I don't think the stereotype is without reason. However, I assumed things would have improved since foreign teachers now need degrees and 2 years of work experience (although I know there are dodgy schools that will employ anyone).


All I can say is that the colleagues I had when teaching "subjects" in a senior school were, let's say, much more respectable than those I had when teaching in a private English language school.

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What kind of place do you work?  I hate to say it, but if you're working in a private English school teaching children then you're probably going to come across some low-lifes.  It doesn't mean everyone is like that, or that kind of work should be looked down on, but it's just the nature of that particular private enterprise.


If you're serious about teaching English as a second language then I recommend getting a recognised qualification.  I don't know much about that sort of thing, but a search for "CELTA" or "TESOL" should be a start.  If you have a Master's degree in teaching English as a second language, you should be able to get a job working on some sort of pathway programme teaching EAP or something similar.  That should put you in touch with a "higher calibre" of expat.

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You won't be able to do much about the stereotypes (after all, you are only one woman). But most people are aware that not all English teachers are low-lifes, so it should not be difficult to quickly prove to anyone who meets you that you are one of the good ones. Take your job seriously, don't drink too much or prey on Chinese girls (or boys, I guess), work towards getting (more) qualifications), or to learn more about language teaching. Basically, act like a responsible, sane adult who has her act together and cares about doing her job well.


During my time in China and Taiwan, I met some lowlife English teachers (and heard stories about more). There is a reason the stereotype exists. But I also have some good friends and acquaintances who were English teachers, did that well for some time and then moved on to other (sometimes related) good things. I think you will be fine. Make sure you keep getting enough sleep and don't worry in the evenings.

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Agree with a lot of what’s already been said. 


The issue ESL in China, and a lot of countries globally, is that the demand for teachers far exceeds supply. Originally, this meant that they just let any man and his dog become an English teacher. Often the only condition was just that you were a native speaker. There wasn’t much “quality assurance” going on. A lot of people just came to work who didn’t give a damn about teaching or students and just came to party/make money/see China. This included people from all walks of life.


Once they introduced the degree requirement (without the 2 year post-graduation requirement), this just shifted the recruitment from “anyone” to “any fresh graduate” essentially. As above, this meant you had a fair few people coming over who didn’t really have much of an interest doing any work. It was just a “gap year” to them. 


Essentially, the ESL industry has been (and still is largely) an unprofessionalized industry. The requirement of having a CELTA (or similar), 3 year degree and 2 years post-degree experience are all helping in China. However, even if the CELTA is a worthwhile qualification (which I think it is), there aren’t many other professional jobs where you can do a month long course and then just start work. 


With regard to changing the stereotype, it’s not going to happen. The best you can do is be a great example. Make sure that your students, parents, school and wider community recognise you as a real caring, hard working professional. 


For you personally, if you want to stay in ESL. First get a CELTA if you already haven’t then build up experience. The most professional environment you’ll find to work in is probably the EAL department in an International school. I’m not sure your nationality but you could also do a distance teaching qualification (more and more exist). 

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I originally went to China to experience their culture and learn their language. I became a teacher because that was my in. That was 13 years ago. I have been back to my home country for 7 years. I remember hearing about this stereotype sometime while living there. I was disheartened too. I agree with the people who say that some teachers are irresponsible. However, another problem I think is that many Chinese would not actively take a job just for the cultural experience. Chinese society is too complicated for that sort of thing. They want to achieve as much money as possible. When they see these people coming over and taking these relatively low wage jobs, even if they pay well by Chinese standards, they think that it was a last resort job for someone who can't succeed in his/her own country.


I can understand the frustration Chinese must feel when they have a bad learning experience with an English teacher. It isn't hard to imagine someone looking down on someone who is bad at his/her job when good money has been paid for his/her services. As far as how I think about my teaching while I was in China, I think I did suck as a teacher, but in fairness, I had zero training and no expectations were really given to me. Many organizations that hired teachers, while they may have got some bad apples, I think they also didn't try very hard to ensure quality teaching. 

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It seems like the only qualification necessary to teach in China where  round eyes, white skin and being a native speaker. Experience , academic qualifications were of no consequence. 

This of course is very frustrating and insulting for someone like the op and others who have worked hard to gain their degree and teaching certs.


Its positive that the rules have change but so many still work illegally so it doesn't affect them. 


As for losers , it does sometimes seem that there are a lot of loser  foreigners in China . Its s much higher representation than would be in their native countries. A lot of foreigners make me cringe here, with their behavior. The beijinger website attracts a lot of disrespectful idiots. 


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23 hours ago, ChTTay said:

Often the only condition was just that you were a native speaker.


14 hours ago, DavyJonesLocker said:

It seems like the only qualification necessary to teach in China where  round eyes, white skin and being a native speaker.


White skin, yes. Native speaker, not necessarily. Lots of non-native speakers are/were employed by dodgy schools that didn't have the resources to get a native speaker.

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I was talking about legitimate employment. To get a work visa you just had to be a native speaker. 


Dodgy schools still employ non-natives. 


I’d say the white skin thing is less of an issue now the pool of workers has gotten smaller. I mean, some Chinese parents are  still completely racist about it but schools have less choice so have become a bit more accepting. At least, in Beijing it seems to be the case. 

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2 minutes ago, mungouk said:

What's the "2 years experience" stipulation exactly? 


Do you need 2 years experience of teaching English, or just 2 years since your bachelors?


This post (2016) by EF doesn't mention it at all. 


Its teaching experience. 


The EF post is outdated. There was a big shake up on visa rules in April last year which made visas harder to get.


Subcategories were added like category of working visa into A, B, C depending on desirability

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Well they say "in the relevant industry," which is all a bit vague. I am not sure as I don't work in that industry, but when applying for a work  visas its better to have a reference letter to say you taught XYZ institution etc and the form you fill out can say you specifically taught English. They never actually ring previous employers or request information by email, so a bit of massaging of application forms wouldn't go amiss  :mrgreen:


Its best to use an agency as they know the system what what to write.


I have heard if more than one person that graduated from university of Adobe Photoshop :lol:


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  • 1 month later...

A Chinese asks you: "Are you a teacher?" It is a question and also an insult. Chinese know very well who are those people. Lazy losers who come to China to get paid for using their own language. Mostly only dancing and clapping.

A Chinese asks an 35 year old American: "Are you married?" He answers: "No." The Chinese might respond: "Yes, I love it! Looking for a true love!!!! You dont get married just to be married! Thumb up!"

But really: "Thumb down! A looser, he doesnt care about his country, he has no responsibility!"

Everybody must get married in Peoplesrepublic, everybody must provide a new generation.


A Chinese asks a teacher: "How much do you make?" He replies: "Only 9000 RMB!" The Chinese finds it strange: "Only 9000? Thats nothing! You must earn more. How many hours a day do you work?" "Just 2. The rest is my free time. I dont need so much money." The Chinese pretends to be happy: "Yes, exactly!!!  A western free mind! Not chasing after profit at all cost. You can enjoy the life! Thumb up!"

But really: "Thumb down! A loser, he has no responsibility, just enjoying life like a kid!"

For Chinese it is impossible to let money go. Any money possible to get must be gotten!


Chinese are contemptuous of us, but they need us

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