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Teaching in China and Racism


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I doubt that this is an Asian problem. I'm guessing a white Chinese native wanting to teach in the US would not be evaluated all that objectively either.

i don't think that's true. if you look at the east asian studies department of many universities, you'll find many people who are not native chinese/east asian. one of the professors of chinese at the university where i studied (ryerson, in toronto canada) was a white canadian.

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If a non-Chinese was born in China and spent his/her whole life in China, majored in Mandarin and went to North America, people would be in awe with him/her.

I have a friend who studied Mandarin in Ohio and all of his teachers were caucasian and the students were quite content with them.

However, I would imagine if the teachers spoke with a really strong accent or didn't know their grammar, the North American students would demand someone who's qualified.

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Yes, hoepfully these things will change. I wouldn't very much mind the ignorance if it didn't effect my income. I don't mean to be Nationalistic but it makes race and politics in America seem like a cake walk. If I were black and born in China I wouldn't stand a chance, even if I did know English and Chinese. I feel really bad for Asian Americans that come here and are treated as second rate citizens. I don't think it's about learning English at all. It's a Circus thats what it is. Unfortunately Western born Asians and darker people are not part of it(for money reasons)


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Is an educational institution based on the way a teacher looks, or is it based on the way a teacher teaches?

Of course not.

I'm really sorry to hear about your unhappy experiences. For me being a chinese,it is a great shame to learn that some of my fellows are showing the least respect for non-white foreign teachers in China. It's partly due to the ignorance of black people, and the prejudice some slef-righteous people hold. But just as wushijiao said,situations will change in the next coming years. I'm one among the "One Child Policy generation"( luckily I have a younger sister)and I have the sense that youth of my age don't have such prejudice toward non-white people. Race is not an issure we consider when we need to make reasonable decisions. I believe the next generations of China will sure know how to judge one's abilities impersonally and regardless of the colour of one's skin and appearance.

As for getting a job as an english teacher, have you thought about taking a position in the new orient? don't really know much about english language institutions though.But I myself think the atmosphere is way too better in universities and colleges. Have you considered being a college english teacher? I don't think they have problems with race. By the way, it's my first time hearing about "black talk". just ignore those absured definitions. They make no sense.

Good luck!

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It's partly due to the ignorance of black people,

I'm sure you probably meant ignorance about black people :-) If you say "the ignorance of black people" it means that black people are treated poorly because they themselves are ignorant - which is obviously counter to the meaning in the rest of your post.

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so sorry to make such a stupid mistake. :oops: i really should have checked it more carefully before i submitted it. thanks for pointing it out. anyway sorry! ask_weasal. you know what i meant. well, my english really sucks :oops:

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Ruoxian, and others

Thank you for understanding. Well, I teach in a University now. as I think you know though, this is not where the money is. Every month I make about 3000 yuan a month. Not nearly enough to get me back to the states. Right now its not even about making a little money to pay bills. It's about survival. My white friends make atleast double what I do in Dalian, if not triple. I only work about 6 hours a week. I want to work more but none of these English training centers will take me due to what I said before. Is it all thanks to the remnants of the cultural revolution? Not entirely. I work in a university and still see ignorance and racism. I really didnt expect this from young university students. I hope it changes soon. Honestly when I go back I am not ever coming back. It gave me a bad impression. I came here expecting ignorance, but mostly from old people and the middle aged (40 through 55 year olds). What I failed to realize was that the old generation are teaching the new generation the same values. As you said though, everything takes time and I think that if my great grand son/daughter came here here possibilities could be endless. As of now, I feel like I am re-living my parents nightmare in the 1940's. Some of my students choose to stay ignorant. They don't even want to talk about these problems because they don't think that racism exist. How can you fight a problem that you claim is not there? Mark Twain once said something in the lines of this...Travel is the enemy of ignorance. I tend to agree. Chinese people need to be allowed to travel more.

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  • 1 month later...

I'd like to post a response to Randall's claims about Shane English School. I am directly responsible for the recruitment of new teachers for Shane here in China, and as such have a say in all new teachers joining the school. We are not racist in our hiring policies.

As the largest British-owned EFL school in Asia, we abide strictly to UK anti-discrimination policies. We do have requirements for our teachers, which are based solely on qualifications, experience, and Chinese Government policy. You were not formally interviewed for a position with that school, and instead of crying 'racism', you should look at whether there are other reasons why you were not considered for an interview. Do you have a valid teaching qualification? Do you have young learner experience? Or is your only claim to be a qualified teacher the fact that you are from a country whose first language is English?

At Shane we have many teachers who are, as you put it, non-white. They do however meet all of our other eligibility criteria. Furthermore I receive enquiries from teachers already living and working in China from countries such as Ghana, Cameroon and the Philipines. They do not seem to have the same problems as you, and I would ask you not to stereotype a whole nation and it's people because of your experiences. There is of course good and bad in every country and every person, but I think here in China the problem of racism is much less than that of other more developed countries.

As to your claims that there should be an administration "that can decipher whether an accent is standard or not", this maybe gives an indication over your suitability to teach. As any teacher of English knows, there is no such thing as a standard English accent. Does an American citizen sound any more standard than an Australian? The very concept of the standard English accent is something we at Shane try to discourage our students from thinking.

Finally, in defence of the young woman you spoke to, is it any wonder she was "very uncomfortable in my presence". Firstly I assume she was communicating with you in English, not her native language, and the fact that you admit to "a fair amount of coaxing", indicates that perhaps your attitude during the conversation was not appropraite to an informal enquiry about employment.

I am sorry to hear that your experiences here in China have not matched your expectations. Do not however base your opinion about my company, and all Chinese people, on one conversation with a frightened, intimidated young woman.

Roddy : feel free to email me, I'll gladly answer any questions you have.

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a whole nation and it's[/b'] people
(emphasis mine).

Now I'm not a native speaker of English, but isn't this wrong? And this person is working for an organisation that recruits English teachers??

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Rather harsh comment in my opinion. If we began castigating every person that made a grammatical error on this BBS we would never get any continuity to threads.

I thought the response from the school manager was pretty reasonable. With these schools, you can generally tell from the advertising what kind of environment they are fostering. If the ads all feature blond chicks and model-like white guys, then that gives the students the preconceived idea that their teachers will look like this. This type of advertising makes it impossible for non-caucasian native speakers to meet the implanted expectations of some of their students. As a result up in Harbin I know Russians who are earning more money teaching English than non-caucasian native English speakers.

I know Shane (the company) from Japan, and they have a good proportion of non-caucasian teachers over there. I hope they are following the same policy here. To the manager that posted, if you have some statistics on proportion of non-caucasian teachers in your company that may be the best way to counter this type of criticism in the future.

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Wow. I'm sorry, Lu. Why comment on a well presented defence of my company, China and its people in general, when you can highlight one misplaced apostrophe.

To answer mrtoga, we don't keep records of the exact number of caucasian/non-caucasian employees. As I stated previously, we follow anti-discrimination guidelines quite strictly, and I believe that keeping this type of information would contravene these guidelines. But, as a rough estimate, I can give you the numbers for the last 3 schools I have visited. Jiang Ning 3 out of a total of 14 teachers, Ningbo 1/4 and Hangzhou 0/4. It varies from school to school, and city to city, depending on the teachers who are available in any location at any given time.

Just to reiterate my position, I will interview any teacher who meets our requirements. I will not ask them their ethnic background before offering a job. At Shane our recruitment policy is based solely on the teachers ability, not the colour of their skin.

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Mr Ferguson,

I think your reply to the original complaint was professional and thorough. However, unfortunately, it is my experience that prejudice against non-white people is still prevalent in China.

(By the way, can we use the word “racist”? This implies a series of conscious economic discrimination against black people from a dominant majority that actively seeks to limit the rights of black people. Personally, I don’t think negative hiring decisions towards non-white people in China necessarily constitute “racism”, as defined in the American context).

However, I do think that unfair judgments are likely to occur directed at non-white people in China, regardless of employer intent. Therefore, in order to ward against such accusations and build a reputation as a progressive employer (which may pay off in the long run), do you think it would be a good idea to have a few mandatory meetings or seminars regarding ethnicity/race for people involved in the hiring process in your organization? It seems to me that this controversy could actually provide your company a unique opportunity to take the lead in warding off non-discriminatory hiring practices on the Mainland.

I hope you take my idea of having seminars to educate your employees about anti-discrimination hiring practices as a constructive idea to make your company a better.


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I appreciate your input and ideas. I am lucky in the fact that I work with people here in Shanghai who have a very open outlook towards recruitment compared to most. They understand the values and characteristics that make a good teacher, and are always accepting of my opinions. They understand that native speakers of English come in many forms, regardless of ethnicity. We, my Chinese colleagues and myself, regularly meet with School Managers around the country, and discuss issues such as teacher quality and recruitment. However, as I stated previously, all final recruitment decisions lie with myself, and as such I am accountable for them.

To counter one point though, it is a sad fact that prejudice against non-white people is still prevalent worldwide, and not just here in China. We must all do what we can to lessen this where possible, and in whatever ways we can.

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Hi Lu,

The statement "nation and it's people" is in common use today in spoken American English. You will even find such usage in highly regarded publications. I've heard the form justified as an example of personification.

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  • 2 months later...

Sorry for my late reply. I have not been on this website for a while.

Apparently you are not a good leader. A good leader would know what is going on in his schools. I can give you names and numbers of workers who WORK IN YOUR COMPANY who have varified that I wasn't hired because of my skin color. I had one of your former employees who is AMERICAN admit to me that the comment made to him was because I was black. He actually called me personaly to apologize on the reason why I wasn't hired. The Chinese boss did not want to hire soley because of this reason. I have a bachelor degree in English Literature from a well known instituition. I have over three years of working experience in China. I certainly don't need a teaching certificate because more than half of your teachers in Dalian didn't have any. So before you say that I'm crying about anything, go research your facts mr. biased millionare. Of course you would whole heartly defend the Chinese people because you are making a killing over here. That probaly wouldn't be happening if you were my color.

Shane English Schools China

Frequently Asked Questions

A. Applications

When should I apply?

SESC accepts applications all year round. To allow enough time for the visa process, however, it is best to apply 2/3 months ahead of when you would like to go to China.

I am due to take a CELTA/TESOL course. Should I apply afterwards?

SESC are happy to accept an application and arrange an interview before the course but an offer would be conditional on successfully passing the course.

When do you recruit teachers?

The main recruiting periods are for February and September to coincide with the start of the academic terms. However the schools need teachers regularly thouroughout the year to cope with the rapid expansion.

Who do you employ?

SESC employs :evil: native speakers with a full university degree:evil: and an accredited TEFL qualification (eg CELTA). Teachers without a TEFL qualification are required to take our FELT course. (Foundation to English Language Teaching) :evil: NOW WHY WASN"T I OFFERED TO TAKE A FELT COURSE? At no time in this proposed interview did this woman offer this option to me. I asked her to be honest and she gave me her honest opinon. She looked uncomfortable. I didn't convince her to say anything. And her English was very good. I saw her facial expression and I caught on quick what was on her mind. Not including her off the wall comment..."Oh! your black I didn't know" I didn't ask for the race card. The race card was drawn automatically. The fact remains that more than half of your teachers in Dalian don't even have a TEFL certificate :evil:

This is what you said......

"As any teacher of English knows, there is no such thing as a standard English accent. Does an American citizen sound any more standard than an Australian? The very concept of the standard English accent is something we at Shane try to discourage our students from thinking".

Above it asks who do you employ? NATIVE ENGLISH SPEAKERS...Native meaning, where English is the first Language. I don't remember Russia's native language being English which are apparent in your Dalian Schools.

And most of us all know that most of the training schools in China (including yours) don't require teachers to have a TEFL degree, as long as you have experience. So what is this hogwash you are handing me?

People from Africa wont complain because ...

1rst. they are not NATIVE speakers. Meaning -Americans, English, Austrailian, New Zealand, Phillipines, Singapore. Africans are English speakers but not NATIVE speakers.

2nd: Most Africans that reside in China are STUDENTS. It is illeagal for students to take fulltime jobs in China. So if they don't get the job based on color it really doesn't matter to them because they would be working illeagally anyway.

3rd: Africans have become used to Colonialization. Which means human rights is a privilidge and not a right in their mind. As an American, to me human rights is a right, so I am more sensitive to what I percieve as an injustice. Where as it has only been about 12 years since the end of Apartheid.

4th: Go on any African Forum concerning teaching in China and you will see the compliants come rolling in. Maybe they are not complaining to you, but believe me they are complaining.

"I would ask you not to stereotype a whole nation and it's people because of your experiences...."

Why not? I'm stereotyped all the time. Why do blacks eat chocolate bars? I'm sure you know the answer to that.

That's all for now...

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wow, from this thread it seems like if i teach in China i will be treated very badly like a second rate citizen (i'm Chinese Canadian). I was thinking about teaching in China for a year after i get my teaching certificate but now i need to reassess my decision.

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I haven't been to China before, but in my opinion, I think the reason why is this. It is a rarity to find a few black people in a high Chinese population. It also, could be that Chinese people had bad experiences before from igorant African-Americans, tv shows, etc. Some of those stereotypes, in which is embedded in the mind, so these are some of the reasons.

Also, 2 years ago, in the US, I meet someone who was very rare in my eyes. I wasn't being a racist, but had to ask. From the outside, I thought he was Black-Asian, and I was kind of right. We become great friends, actually, because he didn't treat me any different. Because, he was a true multicultural person, there was a mixture of Cuban, Spain, Mongolid[African-Asian], and native american. Now, in reality this was already a bad mix, also he was wondering why, until he did a much deeper search. Also, he married an educated Japanese girl.

It still, is a rarity to see much of the whole bigger picture, because of someone trying to ruin it, for many others and lack of understanding. However, this is could be why, this stuff happens to you.

PS. Also, check out on www.skype.com, it has a forum allowing you to connect to other people in CHina, and around the world. Skype: mind_wander.


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