Aug 05, 2015 Translated by

Editor's Note: Hiring teachers illegal is often an irresponsible move for a training center or school in China, but this Chinese media article takes it a step further, calling the practice dangerous. The article argues that illegal teachers are usually either grossly unqualified (suggesting they are drunks, didn't finish college, or were truck drivers in their own country) or sex offenders. This seems like an exaggeration and an unfair stereotype. The article mentions the massive amounts of red tape a school faces when hiring a foreigner but does not fully take into account the connection between China's overly strict requirements for foreign teachers and the number of illegal teachers working in China. In our opinion, China needs to better realize its market, which is often young people right out of college, and offer more roads to a legal teaching visa. It is really the young teachers who are taken advantage of by tutoring centers in China, and the number of “criminals” who come pose as teachers in China are the extreme minority.

Summer is prime hiring season for English training centers in China. The kids are out of school which means more time to study English. The Chinese media has reported however, that many English training centers hire “black market teachers,” during this busy time of year. These teachers have no qualifications or experience. Some even have criminal records or are sex offenders back in their home countries. How do these illegal educators make it into the classroom? Why has hiring them become so popular in China?

Training Centers Only Care About Hiring Foreign Faces

In China, most foreign teachers do no have the proper qualifications to teach. Chinese law stipulates that teachers employed by training centers in China must have a bachelors degree or above and at least two years of relevant work experience or an internationally recognized teaching certificate. Candidates also must be in good health and have no criminal record. They must also obtain a “Foreign Expert Certificate,” as well as an employment permit.

In reality, many Chinese educational institutions (and even some universities) will hire foreign teachers without teaching qualifications as long as they have a foreign face. Shenzhen Special Zone Daily reported that in 2007 there were 7,000 or 8,000 teachers out of the 13,000 foreigners living in Shenzhen. However, data from the city's Foreign Experts Bureau that year showed that there were less than 2,000 legal teachers. Therefore, it is clear that a large number of teachers in Shenzhen are illegally employed.

Southern Regional Deputy Director of Global IELTS Schools Zhang Teng believes that 90% of foreign teachers in China are not actually qualified to teach. As a blonde foreigner, one can work at a number of training institutions and education centers with no questions asked, said Zhang.

 Institutes Are Not Qualified to Hire Foreign Teachers

Educational institutes and schools must hold the correct qualifications in order to hire foreign teachers. They must also go through the Foreign Experts Bureau and successfully register in order to hire certified foreign teachers. Once the schools pass inspection, they are re-inspected every year by the Foreign Experts Bureau to keep their qualifications.

Not all educational institutions are able eligible hire foreigners. In Beijing, there are about 500 schools and training centers that are qualified to hire foreign teachers, according to the Beijing Municipal Foreign Experts Bureau. However, there are more than 7,000 schools and training centers in the city. This official mechanism makes it more difficult for schools to hire over the table and increases the demand for “black market,” teachers.

In Shenzhen's Nanshan District, there are 336 English schools that are eligible to hire foreign teachers. A small number of these schools are private training centers. Gregory Sharpan, a former economics teacher in Nanshan told Chinese media that one of his colleagues did not have a proper work visa and had no teaching experiences. “He would get drunk at noon every day and then stumble into the classroom after drinking. He would even get into fights. He did not take teaching seriously.”

Illegal teachers are a problem in almost every Chinese city. China Daily once visited a training center in Xi'an unannounced and found eight “black market,” teachers and three teachers hired legally.

The increased number of illegal teachers in China not only make it difficult to guarantee the quality of English teacher, but also can be a security risk.

Illegal, Unqualified Teachers Flooding the Market

There are a few basic categories of foreign teachers in China. The first are professional specialized teachers. Professional teachers from the United States, teachers will have earned a degree in teaching and a license from their state government. The second are ESL teachers who have degrees in teaching English as a foreign language, have been trained in ESL, and possess a TEFL or CELTA certificate. As long as these teachers take their jobs in China seriously, they have a positive affect on their students.

The third type of English teachers in China did not study teaching in college but have been trained to teach ESL and possess a TEFL or CELTA certificate. They lack expertise on the subject and usually cannot produce good results. Finally, there are teachers with no relevant college degree and no training of any kind.

In China, foreign language training institutes often hire either illegal teachers. Many training centers cannot even attract the third type of teachers mentioned above. Illegal teachers often did not finish their university degree in their own countries, arrived in China on a tourist visa, and depend on companies who hire foreigners for odd jobs for work.

Before coming to China, illegal teachers often worked jobs like nannies and truck drivers. Many are even from Asian countries, and do not speak English as a first language.

Illegal teachers are not qualified and are not engaged in teaching. They lack experience and their methods of teaching are not authentic. Their lessons often have grammar and syntax errors. The quality of education at tutoring centers that hire illegal teachers is generally low.

“On the outside it looks like there are no problems, but there are a lot of issues with the actual teaching,” said Learning English magazine editor Hou Yiling.

Unqualified Teachers Pose A Security Risk

In April 2013, the BBC reported on a suspect named Neil Robinson wanted by British police for distributing child pornography and the sexual assault of children. Robinson's photo was posted on the Internet back in 2012 and authorities soon found that he had worked at Beijing World Youth International School for three years. He had left the school in May 2012 for personal reasons. “He had written to students said he had to return to the UK to update his passport.”

Two days after he left, Robinson was detained by Beijing police and was handed over to British police. The story of a wanted foreign pedophile (Robinson admitted to having sex with and assaulting a 13 year old girl multiple times back in the UK) working in a Chinese school caused an uproar on the Chinese Internet.

Robinson is not the only case. In the same month, a teacher from the United States was arrested for the possession of child pornography and it was found that he had a criminal record with two arrests back in his home country. The man had taught in Nanjing for five years from 2007 to the first half of 2013 and had worked in a university in the city starting in 2009.

A similar case happened in Shanghai in July 2013 when an international school teacher in Shanghai was found to have sexually assaulted at least seven children over five years. In early 2014, a foreign teacher at a Hampson tutoring center was caught sexually harassing female students.

These stories of sexual assault by foreign teachers throughout China is troubling. How can this kind of thing happen? Illegal teachers often have criminal records back in their home country and have come to China to hide from their past. These criminals will commit crimes against children again in China, therefore hiring illegal teachers is a dangerous practice for a training center.

Source: QQ News

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Keywords: teaching illegally in China teach in China no qualifications

53 Comments Add your comment



Not a word about the crooks who run the schools then? Sloppy, disinterested and unprofessional.... Plus the writer of this article seems to have no idea what a CELTA actually is. Printed off from the internet it is not....I sweated for that bugger!

Aug 05, 2015 02:18 Report Abuse



Yeah, CELTA is a bit more involved than a simple TEFL/TESOL crash teaching course. I did the TEFL course before moving to China, and with my non-relevant Biology master's degree, I'd fall into the article's third category of teachers who often perform poorly. For a select few institutions I'm underqualified, but i recieved plenty of offers from reputable international schools in Shanghai and Tianjin when I looked around. The light skin blue eyes qualification reigns supreme. I easily met the FEC criteria, but ended up working for an illegal school because it was near my wife's hometown. I returned to Europe, leaving pakistanis behind to masquerade as an Australian and an American. They later found a real Irish woman to teach, but I still get contacted by the school to help them find old teaching materials I made.

Aug 05, 2015 03:45 Report Abuse



FROM THE EDITOR'S NOTE: "The article mentions the massive amounts of red tape a school faces when hiring a foreigner but does not fully take into account the connection between China's overly strict requirements for foreign teachers and the number of illegal teachers working in China. In our opinion, China needs to better realize its market, which is often young people right out of college, and offer more roads to a legal teaching visa. It is really the young teachers who are taken advantage of by tutoring centers in China, and the number of “criminals” who come pose as teachers in China are the extreme minority." Why publish an article, especially as an editor, when you cannot verify nor do you believe in it's content?

Aug 05, 2015 09:34 Report Abuse



This website seems to basically post whatever is popular on Chinese media so that those of us who can't or won't read it can see what the Chinese are saying about things.

Aug 06, 2015 23:37 Report Abuse



Kinda sucks for those of us who don't want to read this sh*t...I quote "Planet of the Apes": "it's easy to be monogamous here"

Aug 08, 2015 22:22 Report Abuse



some of you on here no my situation,even though no degree,Iam a bloody good teacher,not for adults not for high school students or primary school students,But for kindergarten children. I feel that someone could come and take a look at ones class to see if they can teach.I have childcare experience and 20 years experience teaching kindergarten children.15 of those years are here in China. Im not a drunk I turn up to work on time and I can only need to take a look at my CV to know that I can teach.

Aug 05, 2015 09:51 Report Abuse



Anyone can become a good teacher if they want. This article and the writer doesn't like us very much..

Aug 05, 2015 15:05 Report Abuse



Going by your writing, you are definitely suited for a kindergarten. But definitely not as a teacher.

Aug 09, 2015 20:55 Report Abuse



He is a teacher and yes judging by reading comprehension he is communicating to you he is a great kindergarten teacher and not much else. Which might mean he's the best teacher on here. Since he's taken on the most difficult assignment. Kindergartener.

Sep 02, 2015 01:48 Report Abuse



Not all qualified teachers are good teachers. Not all unqualified teachers are bad teachers. Obviously training helps but it isn't a sure fire way to guarantee high quality teaching. The real problem here is how easy it is for the education providers to circumnavigate the law so that they can hire illegal teachers. If laws were policed properly and education providers were held to account then this would not be a problem. As with most things in China there are rules but no one seems to think that these rules apply to them, especially for people who have money.

Aug 05, 2015 10:39 Report Abuse



When you say policed properly, it always reminds me of parking my car. Police for 1 month gave out parking tickets like I had never seen before, but for the next 10 months no tickets were given to those who parked their car illegally. Any law to clamp down on anything illegal in this country only last 3 weeks to 1 month. So an article like this will be posted again every 3 to 5 years because we both know nothing will be done about it. Well until there's a WWIII..

Aug 05, 2015 15:10 Report Abuse



the schools hire the bad, cheap teachers so the good teachers don't get hired because they charge too much. Therefore no teacher wants to teach in China as they can do a lot better somewhere like Japan, where the internet isn't blocked too.... Some schools pay like 100rmb an hour and give the "If you work for less, then you can get more hours"... If the government had a minimum wage for ESL teachers, maybe about 250 to start with and increasing 100 per year, then people will be more likely to come and teach and good teacher will stick around. The Parents will pay the higher wages or just hire privately.

Aug 05, 2015 19:57 Report Abuse



most schools don't want the professionals as they usually want to teach, as against perform as the 'dancing monkey'. Parents and teachers want the results without the students doing the actual work that is required when learning a language, so they dislike the professionals. There is also a strong element of Xenophobia in this article that feeds into the local perception of 'corrupting foreigners' that is being fostered in China. TBH, more local teachers are guilty of child and student abuse in China than the foreign teachers. This could be because most of the foreigners come from a 'hands-off' environment where you are not allowed to touch any student for ANY reason. I remember an English colleague who told me he wanted to run away when his tiny students wanted to climb on him, not because he disliked them but because he had come from a country where it is a criminal offence to even comfort a child.

Aug 05, 2015 22:41 Report Abuse



" Chinese law stipulates that teachers employed by training centers in China must have a bachelors degree or above and at least two years of relevant work experience or an internationally recognized teaching certificate." This doesn't mention that teachers have to come from native-English speaking countries. Why do most cities and provinces in China insist on issuing Z-visas to only those who have passports from those countries then?

Aug 05, 2015 13:37 Report Abuse



Rules are different from one province to another. By law, only native speakers can work in rich coastal provinces for example.

Aug 09, 2015 20:58 Report Abuse



I'd say just kick us all out and hire only teachers with education degrees and teaching licenses. Oh yeah I forgot not many qualified licensed teachers would come anyway, oh well it was just a thought.

Aug 05, 2015 15:01 Report Abuse



Hehe, sure that. When they have cheaper yet higher paying, more foreigner-friendly and more professional Vietnam next door. Or expensive but much better environment, people and much higher pay in Japan or South-Korea. China just can't compete with its neighbors when it comes to attracting professional teachers. "Hallow you teach me English?", "Hmmm no, I am a chemistry teacher", "But you foreigner teacher, teach me English!"

Aug 06, 2015 01:19 Report Abuse



If you kick out the trash, it will automatically raise the salary-levels for the remaining teachers. Scarce supply brings about higher salaries which induces more quality teachers to come to China. Basic law of supply and demand.

Aug 07, 2015 02:03 Report Abuse



A Chemistry teacher should be able to handle teaching English as a 2nd language in China. But then again I saw a Biology Teacher crash and burn trying to do that in China last year. He experienced brutal 'sino-rage syndrome' right out front of the University. I don't blame him either. From what I understand it turns out he'd only ever taught Biology and specifically Grade 10. Imagine he used that as part of the title '10th Grade Biology'. Such a limited niche! I suppose he was surely a master of 10th Grade Biology but in China thats just going to work against a guy (well.. unless you teach 10th Grade Biology only in China). I suppose those of us who keep going in China are also the ones who (like me) will can do 2 class of 50 crazy kindergarteners in the morning, some 8-12 year olds in a small training centre group, an IELTS class at the Uni and switch to a 'medical English' 1-on-1 adult session that night. I would definitely fail fast and hard trying to teach Chemistry 101 or specifically 10th grade Biology though.

Sep 02, 2015 01:58 Report Abuse



A lot of the teaching methods would be anathema to chinese kids used to rote learning etc. Western educated ESL teachers would need to appreciate the fundamental psychological differences between Asians and Westerners to become a useful teacher of any sort in China.

Aug 05, 2015 16:03 Report Abuse



Anathema... big word! How much did that cost you?

Aug 07, 2015 05:09 Report Abuse



unfortunately, "qualified" does not always, or often, equal "competent"

Aug 05, 2015 16:12 Report Abuse



China is the land where door handles snap, USB cables don't work, and water pipes leak as soon as they are laid. And all because the average Chinese consumer want's cheap cheap cheap. Just a moment ago I witnessed a guy trying to get a discount on a 1 RMB ciggarette lighter in my local shop. I kid you not.... a full 5 minutes to buy a 1RMB lighter. So would a typical Chinese consumer pay high prices for a fully qualified professional teacher's services? I think not. Working illegally is not good. But sometimes it is the rules that are are fault, not the people. China want's to demand only the best product in imported, while it exports...... ahem !!! As for sex offenders, why don't the consulates issuing visas just run police checks in the applicant's home country? After all, if the BBC could find a sex offender workking in a Beijing school, why could the the Chinese authorities not?

Aug 05, 2015 17:57 Report Abuse



I have two hands but I really want to give you more than just one golf clap. I'll use my feet.

Aug 11, 2015 18:22 Report Abuse



wtf ....Before coming to China, illegal teachers often worked jobs like nannies and truck drivers.

Aug 05, 2015 19:45 Report Abuse