China is a leader in the ESL teaching industry. With incredible teaching opportunities, stunning natural wonders, futuristic super-cities and the opportunity to immerse yourself in ancient cultures – it’s no wonder it’s a bucket-list destination for teachers and travelers from all over the world!
However, due to recently announced educational policy changes, you might be wondering if it’s still possible to teach in China in 2021.
Let’s take a look at the main points of the policies themselves:
Firstly, all extracurricular training centres in China must register as non-profit organisations.
Restrictions have been placed on when extra curricular classes can occur. For example, there will be no classes after 9pm on weekdays and no classes on weekdays and national holidays.
There has been an outright ban on extra curricular tutoring to pre-school aged children.
All textbooks and curriculum that do not follow the national curriculum are now prohibited from being taught in extra curricular tutored classes.
Chinese companies are banned from hiring foreign teachers not residing in China.
These measures have resulted in major closures of online education platforms but do they affect physical teaching opportunities too?
Of course they do, but not in the same way or to the same extent as online teaching.
The changes taking place, although they may appear restrictive do have benefits for both teachers and students. If you’ve taught Chinese students previously you’ll probably have noticed how often children mention homework and how much of their time appears to be spent studying and attending extra curricular clubs. One of the aims of the new reforms is to lower the cost of education for parents and give students more free time. Allowing more time for students to play, go outside and to spend time with family and friends is, of course, a very positive development. And, lowering the cost of education will make education more accessible to lower class families in China and provide more opportunity for all too.
Having much of the industry becoming non-profit should see the focus of education becoming even more student centered and less profit driven. This may lower teaching salaries slightly but it should also improve the overall learning environment and standard of teaching being delivered as organisations will need to put education before their business needs. Training centers who would like to remain for-profit will now need to negotiate this with the government and some have managed to gain approval to run STEM, drama and arts classes with English as for profit programs.
Teaching English along-side drama and other subjects will prove to be an exciting challenge for educators but for students this is also going to give those who learn in more kinesthetic or visual ways an opportunity to learn English in an environment or by a process that is more suited to them as an individual, rather than learning by repetition, as is common of standard English classes in China. Giving children the opportunity to express themselves in different ways and to also use language in more realistic, communicative settings should also improve fluency and confidence in language use.
Now that tutoring will be banned for pre-school age children, we should see increased focus being placed on pre-school state education and more teaching opportunities in this field becoming available. This is a brilliant age group to work with, where you can have a lasting impact on the students you teach while giving them the basics that will set them up for their language learning journey.
To take a classroom teaching position in China, this will obviously mean that you will be living there and will therefore be exempt from the restrictions on hiring foreign teachers from outside of China to teach.
The recently announced policies, although they may sound daunting, shouldn’t deter you from pursuing an ESL career. In actual fact, the reforms bring with them positive changes to the ESL industry that make now a great time to experience teaching in China.
As long as you follow travel advice and secure a teaching opportunity before arriving, it is definitely still possible to teach English in China.
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