Stigma of an English Teacher – Unfair and Elitist

Stigma of an English Teacher – Unfair and Elitist
Forgetmenot Apr 03, 2013 16:27

Teaching in China has a bad rep, from shady schools screwing over foreigners to a widespread belief that teaching does nothing to further your career. While some of these claims bear some truth, the most difficult thing about teaching – for me anyway – is the condescending attitude I get from non-teacher foreigners who ask me about my profession.  I know I shouldn’t care so much about what other people think, but as someone who has accomplished a lot throughout my life, the disrespectful judgment and stereotypes that I am often subjected to by 20 somethings wearing a suit, stings my little ego just a little.


It’s unfortunate for my reputation and pride that China has been so lax about teaching standards and qualifications. Years of allowing non-qualified foreigners to teach English merely for being foreign has done nothing to promote the status of foreign teachers in China. But in most parts of the Western world, teaching is actually quite an esteemed profession – teachers are the givers of knowledge who help prepare the young for the work life.


There are many excellent foreign English teachers in China who bend over backwards to ensure their students’ attain the required level of English to get into university/study abroad/ensure a good job. I, like many of my colleagues dedicate much of my spare time carefully drafting teaching plans that will keep the youngsters interested and eager to learn. Many dedicated teachers even arrange social events for students and bring back reading material from abroad. I have yet to meet a regular office worker who does so much extra for their company in their spare time (and for free).


Yes, many teachers may only work a few days a week and have more free time than most, but that’s no reason to look down on them and bark condescending remarks at them, or even worst, turn your back on them as soon as you realize they are teachers and therefore not a “useful connection” to have. I find that foreigners in China are each other’s biggest foes; they are way more harsh and judgmental against each other than Chinese people are to foreigners. That is a pity. We are all guests in this country and at the end of the day, are all in the same boat. Leave your stereotypes and elitist snobbery behind wherever you came from and let’s all just be respectful of each other!

Tags:Teaching & Learning Expat Rants & Advice


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FT's in China are also often the victims of jealously based on the perception that they are 'luckier' or 'much better paid' than their local peers. Besides the instability of it all, the above myth can now be firmly put to rest. A very in-depth comparitive study I read was done a few years ago where all the FT's salary and benefits were compared side by side with the average local teacher. At the end of the day, after the considering the local side's benefits such as lifetime employment, food, housing subsidy, pay, health etc, guess who the was better off? The answer is, even after considering the higher pay per hour usually received by the FT, the local side was slightly ahead, slightly better off than the FT. Now there you have it. Furthermore, according to an article, on, teaching English in China is closer to entertaining than teaching. The author of the article went on to say he wouldn't recommend it for any one for more than six months or a year. I won't even go into the disrespect towards teacher at the more money-oriented training centers. What do you think? China is becomming a more friendly English envirnonment or China is still a hostile English environment?

Apr 11, 2013 15:46 Report Abuse



Western teachers in China give terrible oral (hahaha) and are mostly broke living from pay check to pay check. They whine about their unfair treatment by their employer even though they stay in China for years and the reason they whine to you is they hope you feel sorry for them and buy them a beer. Western English teachers are a dime a dozen who are sickly jealous of other Western expats. who make the big $$$ and they constantly try to convince everyone how important they are.

Apr 11, 2013 14:24 Report Abuse



Whatever...still there are many unqualified "teachers" here who are here just for easy money and girls.They destroy the name of foreigners and people start to think that all of us are pervert.

Apr 08, 2013 10:40 Report Abuse



No, there are not many unqualified "teachers" because you are, by being hired, proven 'Qualified'. And we can add 'stay hired'. Now, as for anyone there for easy money and girls? These guys are giving foreigners a bad name. I strongly agree. But those guys are as likely to hold a Masters from a respectable University or nothing more than a TEFL cert. Or just as likely tourists or anything else. Or do you really believe its a problem with the least qualified (but still entirely qualified) teachers?

Apr 17, 2013 11:47 Report Abuse



Yes, well one condescending angle is to refer to other foreign teachers as 'unqualified' when they are, in fact, fully qualified the moment they are hired. That makes them as qualified to teach oral English in their school as you are. Keep in mind none of you foreign teachers were hired as 'teachers' but as 'oral English teachers' as well as for native experience and presentation. And of course you are right that it's important. I have more respect for foreign oral english presenters in China than I do for most public school teachers in the West. Quite a lot more actually. And I have no idea what is special about 20-something businessmen in suits. Plenty of them are broke and there to hustle unsubstantial deals which result in them being paid far less than anyone else. Often they lose money in the end. Wow a lot of snippy emotions in the white collar world. I worked (as in blue-collar work-work) and its disturbing the sniping, petting comparing, paper measuring contests with a lot of you folks. Honestly, all of you get over yourselves!

Apr 07, 2013 16:44 Report Abuse