Not for anyone
One of my Chinese friends in Suzhou is really keen to learn English, so at the beginning of this year she signed up for a course for adults at an English School. It wasn’t any cheap program, but the school assured her that they had great teachers and good teaching methods.
She started the course and was happy with most of her classes. The teachers kept changing, and everything was good until she one day came to class where a young, American girl was teaching. My friend and her classmates found the class quite unprofessional: the content was light and unprepared and way too simple for the level they were on.
Some other classes followed in the same spirit and after a while the students decided to bring it up with the teacher, as they felt they weren’t learning anything from the class.
However, when they asked the teacher to make the class a bit harder and prepare some different content, the teacher was offended. She claimed that her class was fine as it was and that no other class had ever complained. The students went to the school board with their complaint but got a similar response.
One of the students was friends with another English teacher at the school and found out that the young English teacher was in fact a student herself living in Suzhou, who was teaching on a part time basis to be able to pay for her own expenses. She didn’t have any real teaching degree and no interest to devote time or effort into teaching. She knew the school was in need of teachers and wasn’t worried about losing her job.
I think it is a shame that there are so many English language 'teachers’ like that here in China. Those ones that come here just to party and have fun and then take a teaching job in order to get by… but in real life they have no interest to teach. It’s a shame as well for those REAL teachers who really come here in order to teach English. The ones that have a teaching degree, and/or who devote time and puts in an effort to give a good class.
There’s a huge need for English teachers in China that has made it too simple for any foreigner to pick up a teaching job. I have been offered a job at numerous schools here in Suzhou that I have all declined. I am no teacher. My English isn’t prefect. I would never want to waste anyone’s time and money by giving them lessons that might not be up to a good standard. I do tutor a 10-year old Korean girl, but that was because her parents insisted I would do so, DESPITE me not being a real teacher (I’ve told them that 100 times). They simply wanted her to improve her communication skills, so that’s what I focus on when I go to her house once a week.
During my years in Shanghai and Suzhou I have met so many English teachers. It almost feels as if every second foreigner living here is a teacher. One guy that I met even told me that it was annoying to work as a teacher here, because there are so may young people who are working as teachers and who are not taking their jobs seriously, giving the industry a bad name. But it’s hard to say who there is to blame for the situation: There’s a huge need for teachers and therefore it’s easy for anyone to get a job. And a lot of people (despite not having a teaching degree) do a great job. It’s just a shame that it’s so easy for those who don’t to still get (and keep) a job.
Likewise, there are so many Chinese language 'teachers’ here… Teachers that offer you their private lessons for a not-so-cheap price, but who actually cannot teach. I’ve tried quite a few and they have more or less been the same; showing up at my house with nothing but their handbag, asking me what I want to learn. Never prepared any sort of topics or exercises, or offering any input. I actually gave up last semester and decided to settle for language exchange instead. Likewise did my Chinese friend. I mean, why pay someone when you might as well learn the same amount from talking to a friend.