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Why are employers in China so awful?
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Banner41



Joined: 04 Jan 2011
Posts: 500
Location: Shanghai

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecubyrd wrote:
I don't buy that taking a 1 month CELTA course makes one any more qualified to teach English in any country than someone that is a certified teacher in their home country in a random subject area. Most schools would take a native speaking licensed teacher any day over someone that just has a CELTA/Trinity.

From the official website: "CELTA is an initial qualification for people with little or no previous teaching experience and is one of the most widely taken qualifications of its kind."

It is just a basic certification/qualification for people that have no teaching license (mostly) or experience, or for qualified teachers that just simply can't figure out how to teach ESL on their own IMHO.


I agree. People take TEFL cert courses on a whim most times and feel qualified to teach. HS drop out? It's ok, I have a TEFL cert from XYZ....I'm good to go! I think a 3/4 year degree coupled with a cert. is at least more in the ballpark. Shows more commitment to education then sitting in a classroom on Saturdays for a month or two or even worse, in front of a computer. That had been the standard coupled with two years of experience. Too bad they don't always enforce their own standards.
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wonderingjoesmith



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 818
Location: Guangzhou

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Denim-Maniac wrote:
wonderingjoesmith wrote:
Denim-Maniac wrote:
Qualified in TEFL means CELTA or Trinity to me. Qualified to teach history to American high-schoolers does not make one qualified to teach English IMHO.

So, what do the Chinese high-schoolers learn in general that the American teacher could not handle?


Ive picked American history in my example as I have first hand experience with said teacher. It could equally be a British Economics teacher though, so please dont be sensitive on subject or nationality. Be qualified to teach history (for example) means one can probably do a good job to teach History, but it doesnt mean they are fully qualified to teach English as a foreign language. I am qualified to teach English so when I go home for good, does that mean I am qualified to be a driving instructor. After all, I can also drive? No ... I need to take specific training, but my previous experience may make the transition to learning something new easier.

Here are two examples to illustrate why I say so. The first is something very simple I use as part of a lesson that illustrates intrusion. Its from a standard EFL textbook so Im not claiming I invented it.

/tuːwənθriːjənfɔː/

I am not sure people who have not undergone standardised EFL training would a) understand what intrusion is and b) be able to read IPA and teach it. You wouldnt encounter it otherwise. Of course ... students understand this very easily so its useful for them.

A second example is that many students struggle between use of second and third conditional. Both of these structures are excellent for engaging oral classes, but can a teacher of math with no formal EFL instruction recognise the different structures and confidently explain form and function to struggling students?

I just believe being qualified to teach one thing does not automatically qualify you to teach another. The history teacher I mentioned I have experience with was a wonderful guy, very popular, but would happily admit he had no idea about many parts of EFL instruction, had to avoid teaching or answering some things and as a result, couldnt always give students what they needed.

And these two examples I listed are just two of many simple everyday 'learning English' things that are students encounter all the time. Being qualified to teach these students how to correct or reduce their mistakes in these things is what we need to be trained to do ... and so I feel that CELTA/Trinity training is the first entry level step in qualification for ALL teachers of EFL.
This isn't about sensitivity or nationality but wisdom. A true high school teacher learns how to teach in school which s/he graduates from and then throughout real classroom experiences in the high school. How can that equal to a marketing, bank or hotel manager, or some engineer who's got a few months of training in "EFL"?

Correct me if I am wrong but unless one takes some kind of a quick CELTA extension course s/he will NOT be qualified to teach young learners. And, 16-17 year high school kids are the YL category, aren't they?

Many schools on mainland China practice rote memorization and students in high schools are to acquire daily 30-50 new English words (randomly chosen) and phrases or grammatical structures that have little to do with their new vocab. The average young learners' active vocabulary, from my brief experience, is at just about 300 words while their passive vocab doesn't go far over a thousand. Their monthly routine of a thousand new words never works but the local academic drones drill their kids to oblivion for the system/employers that direct them to do so.

Teaching second or third conditional tense in a Chinese high school set-up and with EFL, or English as First Language, certification after a successful accomplishment of the CELTA may not be as helpful as knowing what the kids actually have to go through during their learning process. I am talking about the basic psychology which is most likely taught to the history, economics, maths etc teachers in the US or UK. They are fundamentally prepared for the educational concept which doesn't seem to be parallel with the Chinese one at all.

The CELTA may come handy if it prepares not to confront the poor local educational systems that insist on teaching English their own ways. High school students in China are learning English just like they are learning Chinese. They don't learn to use the languages but to pass their unpractical tests which indicate how successful they are. High scores of students allow teachers to keep their jobs and make schools/employers proud of what they have accomplished.

If I were a real teacher, I would lose my job.

Regards,
Joe
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the lowlander



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
Posts: 171
Location: The Oort Cloud

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

NoBillyNo......is that what people shout before you post? Laughing

Anyway Billy, do you understand the distinction between England (English) and Britain (British) ? I don't mean to be pedantic, but conflating those two identities causes a lot of offence in certain parts of the British Isles, as the Guardian newspaper recently pointed out.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/feb/06/david-cameron-uk-devolution-citizenship

As for the EU, it has enacted extensive provisions to protect workers rights, and those shouting loudest about the UK leaving the EU are certain sections of the Tory party who represent those business interests who would like to roll these provisions back.

http://europa.eu/legislation_summaries/employment_and_social_policy/employment_rights_and_work_organisation/index_en.htm

Given that the minimum UK wage is fixed and legally imposed upon legitimate employers, the most an influx of migrant workers from other parts of the EU can do is hold it in place. They cannot drive it down.

What is an "unqualified worker" ?

If you're trying to suggest that a labourer from Latvia can suddenly become a lecturer in London, then I think you need to go back to the drawing board with that idea. But that is the sort of thing that really happens in the jolly old world of Chinese EFL!

As for China's minimum wage, this can be under 1000 RMB per month, depending upon province, and is often more honoured in the breach, than in observance. Low wages and long hours have caused a great deal of unrest in the areas you mention, and this has manifested itself in protests, violence and suicides.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_in_People's_Republic_of_China
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NoBillyNO



Joined: 11 Jun 2012
Posts: 1517

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If you're trying to suggest that a labourer from Latvia can suddenly become a lecturer in London, then I think you need to go back to the drawing board with that idea. But that is the sort of thing that really happens in the jolly old world of Chinese EFL!


Never suggested that.
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the lowlander



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If not, then what do you mean by "unqualified worker"?
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wonderingjoesmith



Joined: 19 Aug 2012
Posts: 818
Location: Guangzhou

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"unqualified worker" vs unqualified employer who knowingly breaks laws

Javelin of Radiance wrote:
Denim-Maniac wrote:
Nah, I think kudos to Chinesearmy - All bosses are awful! Truest words said in the entire thread!

I also agree.

the lowlander wrote:
Chinesearmy, you said,
Quote:
actually all bosses are awful. in the west and in china. marx said so. you are just a cog in the wheel.


All bosses the world over may be awful at heart, but at least in EU countries we have legislation that offers a certain amount of protection to the workforce. Minimum wages being one example.

While that legislation may protect domestic workers it means squat to many foreign workers in the US, Canada, etc. Wage theft, physical and mental abuse, with-holding of health care, and failing to inform foreign workers of their employment rights are the most common complaints. And since they're foreigners who often have limited English, and they don't vote, little gets done to help them.
Do not get caught by polarizing posts that take readers to other countries where the main role of judicial system is to protect people. No minimum wage, long working hours that are often for free, and little choice in a sense of legal complaints against employers seems to be much more common in China than in the US. My Chinese coworkers have worked last weekend and are working this weekend too. The employer blatantly claims the teachers have to work for January 1st and 2nd holidays both weekends. Of course, they could leave the jobs and find other schools to work for, but would other places be better in the country?
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doogsville



Joined: 17 Nov 2011
Posts: 572
Location: China

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I often read posts containing the notion that if there were more regulation in the Chinese TEFL market, with CELTA/Trinity being the recommended entry level qualification. Unsurprisingly it's usually, if not always, those who are so qualified who are suggesting it. I have two problems with that idea though. The first is that I'm not so sure it would in fact 'change' the market, certainly not for the better. What I think is more likely to happen is that the subsequent shortage of suitably qualified teachers would simply cause the majority of schools to close. We are well aware that most of the people running English schools in this country are business people whose only interest is the bottom line. At the moment they tap in to this unregulated market and make a lot of money. I think that if the government made it too difficult for them then they would simply choose another business model.

Would those licensed, regulated schools left behind then cherry pick the best students, and charge them more money? Yes, they likely would. Would they then pass a percentage of this money on to the foreign teachers with the necessary qualifications to teach? No, I don't think they would. I think they would collude and connive with one another, openly or not, to continue to offer the same pay and conditions they always have, whether their teachers are CELTA/Trinity certified or not. I think there are enough people willing to come to China for the lifestyle and experience they can have on the existing salaries to make sure that the few schools left after regulation would survive as they always have, and if there was more money to be made it would be going into the pockets of the Chinese, not the foreigners.

Then there is the point, previously made, that while CELTA/Trinity certification may give one a more substantial ability to teach English, it does not a good teacher make. I would also point out that my own experience, and the experience of the majority of people who post here and on other sites, is that what we are asked to teach here, and what is possible to teach here, is not going to be improved by the knowledge gained on a CELTA/Trinity course anyway.

These boards contain many posts advising people who are career EFL teachers to go to other countries to get the experience, knowledge and kudos that they need to advance their careers. the accepted next step for a teacher here in China is to get a post as director of education, or whatever fancy title the language mills are giving out these days, and to become some Chinese business persons lap dog. It ain't pretty, but it's reality.

I was a teacher for twelve years before I came here, though not of English. I cannot imagine why any qualified English teacher from the UK would give up their career to come and teach here. I don't teach the way I would in the UK, because the education system and culture of learning here is so totally different. I do use a lot of the skills I built up over those twelve years back in the UK though. I didn't get any of those skills from a course, I got them from years and years of trying and failing, analysing and succeeding, planning and worrying and slowly but definitely improving. Both my colleagues and students here often tell me they think I am a good teacher. I believe I am. I am still working on ways of improving as an English teacher however, and slowly trying to change the culture of learning here from within.

I don't have a CELTA/Trinity qualification, in fact I have a TEFL certificate I got from completing an on-line course. For my first few months of teaching here I was not very good as an English teacher. However my experience of teaching allowed me to be aware of that and to fix it quite quickly. I like what I do, and I am proud of what I do, and will continue to do it for the foreseeable future. My students, at least the ones who meet me half way, are improving.

I get that there are a lot of unqualified teachers out there, and there are a lot of really, really bad teachers out there. They are not always the same thing, and I think we need to be careful to make the distinction. I've worked with some truly awful teachers, at least two of whom were CELTA certified. I would not have allowed them to teach my children. I agree that the EFL market needs to improve here to properly meet the needs of the people who are paying for it, but I don't think that bringing in certification will make that much difference until the whole culture of learning and system of educating and examining people is changed. Just my opinion though.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
Posts: 1238

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Several good points raised and its hard to reply to them all. I did say this is just my opinion and accept its not likely to be shared universally. As someone else has mentioned, the pro-CELTA types tend to be the CELTA-holders and yes, Im one of those.

What I hope I have done in my posts is illustrate quite clearly that I do recognise it is only an entry-level qualification (I have said that in this thread), but as it is job specific I believe its quite important. As an academic achievement, home country certification to teach in state schools is naturally a much higher and more demanding qualification ... BUT IT ISNT SPECIFIC TO ESL / EFL so although holder of said qualification arent likely to have many skills, knowledge of EFL (and methodology) may not be included.

The learning methods employed in the Chinese education system are roundly knocked by most FTs and the common opinion would be that it rarely prepares students for any real level of communicative competence. So how can there be any negative reaction to an entry level qualification that seeks to introduce more effective EFL methods to the trainee teacher? Although I dont teach young learners in China, I am aware of the education system they work under. I can assure you that they will learn 2nd and 3rd conditional, but not in any communicative manner ... thats where we come in!

In my limited experience, and this is only limited by my own experience, those FT's who hold higher level qualifications often feel they trump lower level job specific qualification and are rarely interested in learning EFL methodologies or skills as they feel they dont need them. Id challenge that 100%. In every job we have to accept the need to learn new skills, which are often job specific.

I wrote two very simple examples of common teaching issues in this thread. One features an IPA transcription of natural speech. This is a very common tool used in TEFL, and familiar to all your language learners.

Can all of you read it? Can you understand what it is illustrating?

I would guess that a large % of readers here might not. Many will suggest that its not their job and they dont need to do stuff like that. Some others may say they dont think its useful ... but it is a genuine and rather common part of EFL and for teachers to have worked in the field for several years and not even bothered to try and learn such things is poor IMO. (CELTA just introduced such things, a good / dedicated professional type would try to continue to build on this knowledge throughout their teaching 'career')

In 2010 I worked with the Chinese education department at my employers and tried to start a workshop to introduce the use of IPA to our FT department. It was never suggested that it was mandatory or that it must be used in class, but it was introduced as something that might assist our students and help us to become better teachers. The outrage this caused amongst the FT staff was incredible, with I must confess ... a few US certified teachers saying they never needed to learn this to teach American kids so didnt see why they needed to learn it here.

That attitude, which I have also witnessed in summer school employment in the UK, has shaped my attitude I guess. I started a Delta in 2012 and posted queries about it on here ... the response tended to be poor, uninterested and ill-informed. So again, that kinda sinks the idea that many people know their stuff because of their experience or other qualifications.
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L00kingforwork



Joined: 15 Jun 2012
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 3:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Many certified subject teacher feel that there's little difference between teaching a subject and teaching EFL. What they don't seem to understand is that teaching a subject (e.g. English) is vastly different from teaching English as a second/foreign language.

My English teachers in high school never explicitly taught me how to read critically or write proper essays. Students in regular English programs are somehow expected to know how to do these things. And what about listening to lectures and taking proper notes? Universities in North America have noticed a significant deterioration of reading and writing skills in their freshmen (native English speakers!), many of whom need to take a 'booster' or remedial English course in their first year. If our students back home are having difficulties reading and writing effectively, what about Chinese students, especially those who want to study abroad?

Who needs qualifications for teaching EFL, right...
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Im NOT saying its the holy grail, and that CELTA grads are automatically wonderful teachers (most arent!) ... but people who take such courses (regardless of other experience or qualifications) do show that they are interested in learning TEFL specific techniques / language awareness and grammar etc etc.

Im never impressed by people who teach English (often for many years) yet show no interest in learning things like grammar / pronunciation / IPA / SLA theory etc etc.

This applies equally to CELTA graduates (some of whom promptly ignore all their training and never build on the skills learnt) and people holding other qualifications (including qualified subject teachers).
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the lowlander



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

When I read these boards I get the distinct impression that certain contributors lack a proper high school education, never mind relevant degrees and recognised EFL teaching qualifications.

I'm sorry, but if you can't string a coherent sentence together and you didn't go to university, then you have no right to label yourself as an English teacher.

As for graduates with non-relevant degrees, and teachers who are certified in subjects other than EFL, I'm sorry again, but in my book you don't cut the mustard either.

I don't attempt to teach physics. I don't attempt to teach history. I don't attempt to teach anything outside of my own field.

Why?

Because I'm not qualified to do so, even if I might know something about various other subjects.

That being the case, why should astronomy graduates and certified home economics teachers (et al) feel qualified to work in my field of expertise when they have no background and no training?

Unfortunately, the EFL sector is currently full of "chancers" and strict regulation is sorely needed to weed them out.

Logic dictates that this can only help properly qualified teachers at the expense of those who should be seeking employment or business opportunities elsewhere.

Bring it on.
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Denim-Maniac



Joined: 31 Jan 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know we have discussed this before ecubyrd and are opposing forces in the everlasting CELTA or not battle Very Happy Im always one of the people speaking in favour of CELTA / Trinity. Equally Im always suspicious of those with only home country qualified teacher status who arent especially in favour of ESL specific training.

I posted an example earlier of something that I feel I have to do as part of my job in teaching English. Im forever looking for additional support and mentoring for like-minded colleagues, but rarely find it TBH.

Ive already mentioned the environments I work in, but the teachers I work with range from no qualifications at all / CELTA / Trinity qualified / Home country certified.

Because Ive been teaching since around 2006, I feel I manage my class well enough, and have learnt structure, rapport building etc etc ... All things I am sure state school teachers are great at. But I still want support and mentoring with specific language issues, language functions and some of the finer points of EFL instruction. I dont believe state school teachers can help me there ...

Here is the example of something I do, copied and pasted into this post

The first is something very simple I use as part of a lesson that illustrates intrusion. /tuːwənθriːjənfɔː/

When I sit around with my CELTA qualified buddies we can discuss teaching points like this ... when I sit around with my state teaching buddies they dont tend to understand or recognise the topic (and often dont want to). If you do, Id love the chance to work alongside you as Im sure I could learn more and improve, which is what Im all about. For sure your qualifications are higher than mine in an academic sense ... but if we do the same job and you dont 'get' the stuff I do .... those qualifications wouldnt count for a lot in my book and Id prefer to work with the CELTA guy who might be able to brainstorm with me.
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Javelin of Radiance



Joined: 01 Jul 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the lowlander wrote:
Javelin,

I specifically mentioned EU legislation, which protects all workers, domestic and foreign.

Anyway, I find it interesting that you claim all sorts of truly horrific things happen to foreign workers "in the USA and Canada etc" and yet you adamantly refuse to believe that such things happen to foreign teachers in China.

Lowlander, it's not that I don't think bad things happen to foreign workers in China, I know they do, and I've been skilled enough, or lucky enough, to have avoided it. But most of the things that happen to foreigners here in China aren't life threatening, and in some cases are at least partly the fault of the foreign teacher who came here with their eyes closed. Much of the moaning on this board is fairly easy to see through and those who write about the evils of the chinese employer rarely come back to clarify the glaring holes in their stories.

Now take the life of many foreign workers in the US or Canada where legislation exists to protect those workers. The laws are routinely ignored and workers have their pay with-held, they're kept in shabby accommodation, they get sick and don't get treatment, and they can be fired without cause. These workers usually end up too fearful to fight back because they typically come from poor countries, and they need the money for their family back home, and the employers exploit that fear as much as they can. so the workers put up with it. Until a few years ago I never even knew this happened until I came across a story in the local paper uncovering the exploitation of central americans working the fields right outside my hometown. the EU may have similar laws to protect workers but if they're upheld as badly as they are in North America then they're next to useless. (I'm not so familiar with the EU but their laws can't be too dissimilar to those across the pond).

yeah, shit happens to foreigners in China. but pretty easy for us to either resolve it, or change jobs, or at least get out of the country. Not so easy for the foreigners who muck away in the fields in our countries doing the jobs none of our countrymen want. It should be different all around, but it isn't. But lowlander my friend, don't try and tell me employers in our countries who hire foreigners are any better than Chinese employers who hire foreigners because by and large they're not (of course if you're white and from another developed country then you're A-OK). They do share an equally great love for more money though, anyway they can get it. Sorry I'm on holiday these days and don't want to ruin it by posting more on the topic.

wonderingjoesmith, say again? You came across as unreadable.
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the lowlander



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PostPosted: Sun Jan 06, 2013 12:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was wondering what WonderingJoeSmith was wondering about too!
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the lowlander



Joined: 10 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 09, 2013 5:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Javelin of Radiance,

I've no wish to fall out with you, but you appear to have a very dogmatic anti-Western/pro-Chinese mindset.

Just as a matter of interest, are you Chinese?

Pardon me for saying so, but you make huge, sweeping, anti-Western statements, without any evidence to support them, and to be honest you sound very anti-Western in many of your postings.

Perhaps you're not Chinese, and you are one of those Westerners who didn't make it back home for various reasons, and so now you're prepared to overlook the failings of your host country (China) because you feel gratitude due to the fact they gave you a second chance.

I mean no offence but, when you make claims like,

"Much of the (anti Chinese) moaning on this board is fairly easy to see through and those who write about the evils of the chinese employer rarely come back to clarify the glaring holes in their stories".

Followed by

"Now take the life of many foreign workers in the US or Canada where legislation exists to protect those workers. The laws are routinely ignored and workers have their pay with-held, they're kept in shabby accommodation, they get sick and don't get treatment, and they can be fired without cause".

It's pretty clear here that you're not posting from a balanced perspective, and it's also clear that you have NO evidence whatsoever to support your claims that employment laws are ROUTINELY ignored in the US and Canada.

If what you say is true, post the links.

I'm sorry, but for me your post(s) simply exhibit the unsupported anti-Western/pro-Chinese bias that you clearly hold and promote for whatever reason, but without any evidence.

Treble Kool Aids all round anyone?
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