Shanghai Foreign English Teachers Test

A long time ago, I taught a bit of English. Being Dutch and having an accent I’m happy to say there are now 3 Chinese women in Kunming that pronounce words like “Go”, with a hard G. It sounds a bit like Ghhhhrrrooo. It was a short lived career for many reasons.

Having known my fair deal of foreign teachers in China I can honestly say that most of them, accents aside, where genuinely trying to teach their pupils proper English. Teaching classes of 50 uninterested students is challenging, making 20 year olds behave their age at times is rather hard but they did/do their best. I haven’t mentioned the low pay, dealings with foreign affairs offices and whatever other crap that seems to part of a teachers life in China.

Now Shanghai, in its infinite wisdom has decided that they plan to “weed out unqualified foreign English teachers with a language and teaching test” (source: Shanghai Daily, no link as they are thrown behind a paywall after a couple of days)

The test, organized by the Shanghai Personnel Bureau, will mainly target non-native-English speakers who apply for English-teaching positions in kindergartens, middle schools and language training schools, the bureau revealed at the city’s second job fair for English teachers on Saturday.

The bureau will invite an English-language expert panel from local universities to test applicants’ English speaking ability, especially pronunciation and accent.

Recent education graduates from English-speaking countries must also take a similar test on their teaching skills, bureau officials said.

I’m not against testing in itself. In the ideal situation a teacher should be qualified in the sense that he can teach and having more control on that isn’t too bad. Testing especially pronunciation and accent though is rather arbitrary, especially judged by English language experts from local universities which I presume will be Chinese natives. Is a slight Dutch accent bad (yes, it is:), how about an Indian accent and most of all what to with native speakers that at times are harder to understand than non-natives.

Another question pops up, the question of supply. If Shanghai wants fully qualified teachers the companies hiring them will also have to be willing the price for quality. I’m not sure whether that part has been thought through.

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4 Responses to “Shanghai Foreign English Teachers Test”

  1. Gordon Choi
    April 25th, 2007 06:13

    Isn’t it a good thing to be able to get used to different English accents? At least in South Africa, there are a few different English accents due to different native-mother-tongues (Afrikaans, Zulu, etc).

    Even within the Chinese (people from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Shanghai) they have experienced their unique English accents.

    Otherwise, I do agree testing is always good. If you pass it your skills are officially accredited.

  2. Shanghai
    April 25th, 2007 10:26

    I think it’s definitely a good thing to get used to different English accents. In the current world there is no such thing as one English accent and thinking of it, there probably has never been. Same goes even for Dutch which is a tiny country.

  3. Nameos
    May 12th, 2007 00:39

    Can’t say I get it why people come here to teach English when they can make far more money in other Asian countries and with better conditions.
    I saw this ad yesterday for an english teacher from US/UK/Canada with experience etc. with a salary of 4000RMB. Why dont just go to Thailand and get the same salary while teaching at a school near a white sand beach? Instead I see all these people that go to small towns and complain all the time. Just plain weird.

  4. Chen
    August 25th, 2008 02:25

    My child have attended a demo on Beijing Line’s office and he had teacher named Donald Tan. Much to my surprise as I know their quality of teaching, this guy does not even speak proper english!! He can not even complete a paragraph with correct grammar! How can you expect my child to learn english if his teacher is not even capable of speaking english, I do not know what their standards are for qualifying teachers but this guy is certainly stupid. when you ask him questions he can’t even answer quickly, he looks dumb. I am not paying them lots of money to make my child dumb and to get somebody who is pretending to be an american citizen. when asked why he said he was an american citizen even if he is most certainly not, he said the company told him to do so! This is very unexpected! they make their teachers lie for their own good and they do not even consider the children’s development! I would not recommend anything that teaches my child that it is good to lie!

    I and my family has a very strong connection with the labor law and officials of china and i would certainly like to address this concern to them. I am pretty sure they would like to hear what your company and teachers are doing for the sake of money!

    This is a very disappointing news I know but it really concerns parents who are thinking about their children’s well being by sending them to a school where they can learn english while in fact they are all frauds and liars!

    I would tell all my friends about this teacher and ask all of them never to go to Beijing Line!


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