Chinese Media: The Dangers of Hiring Illegal Foreign Teachers

Chinese Media: The Dangers of Hiring Illegal Foreign Teachers
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


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Nov 02, 2015 08:28 Report Abuse



I'm noticing a trend this September (2015) and while it might be strictly my own crazy coincidence I wonder if anyone else is noticing this - fewer young backpackering 'paid party vacation' guys and more schools with teachers married to local women (or men in one case of a female teacher). I recently was doing rounds with nearly every school in the city. Now, I'd actually noticed I was seeing less of the single young partying dudes BUT it was the funniest thing but every school I interviewed with was almost entirely and only guys married and residing here. It was almost comical after the 8th interview where (and this is newer) but where this question about my marriage status came up almost immediately. Specifically the 'Q Visa' questions and how long and did we own or lease etc. Add to this I was also surprised how easy it is to get a Q-Visa (whatever the spouse visa). Like it was toooooo fast, efficient and helpfully rushed through. So then its started to occur to me this is not coincidence at all but a planned response and governing decision to make this direction happen. In some ways I can see why. Married people (married to a local) cannot easily dick around and do 'midnight runs' and are (I'd like to believe) less likely to be using the job as a quick i-dont-give-a-shlt way to get KTV, beer and condom cash. Married foreign teachers are, in a sense, cheaper and this means they have their own translator, assistant, guide, direction-finder and probably go and rent their own apartments, buy their own e-bikes, maybe have their own medical insurance, medical tests (Q-visa req.) and don't quote me on this but my understanding is that Q-Visa holders do not have to do the 'Hong Kong Visa run) thing every year. thats a major thing that a school does NOT have to take care of in the cases where they must. Add to that the foreign teacher is (again hopefully) probably supporting the spouse who are often stay-at-home wives-moms who also transfer salary to parents who need a new cow and village renovation. In a sense taking a burden off China with the RMB they earn. Mind you, the young work-vacation people really just spend their pay in China anyways I suppose but im not sure if its in ways and places the government loves to see supported heh. So in a way the government has made it easier for schools to hire essentially 'cheaper' and more reliable foreign teachers who are married to locals. *btw..a spouse visa isn't a work visa but you see where im pointing out the benefits where it counts*. btw, I'm well aware that not all young dudes on sort of 'working adventure' are the party pack douchebages running around trying to get girls pregnant and pick fights with locals at the douchebag bars. There are great young single work-adventure people who also happen to be great young teachers and are not dicking around. But you know that is a 'stereotype' and again I've just noticed less and less of them and strangely almost exclusively the married-to-local guys were nearly the ONLY foreign teachers I met in school after school. (Also the single 30ish gals who aren't married but who aren't partying so much as learning Tai Chi and are into tea and probably secret drinking at home, quietly. Now, is this just my circle of coincidence trends or is anyone else noticing trends along the same line in their city this year?

Sep 02, 2015 02:29 Report Abuse



I once noted a front page article in Shenzhen about ESL teachers. The cartoon with the article showed a white foreign teacher, naked and hiding his private parts behind a school bag, in front of him a class of teenage students. This is how the media in China constantly portray men from other countries. At the time, I had started work as a Director of Studies, I was recruited via a UK teacher agency that assured me the Chinese owned school was genuine. I met my team of five ESL teachers, two of them had a z visa.The others told me they were being constantly assured they would get a visa but the promises were just ongoing lies. I was constantly assured I would be given a Z visa but found sixty days later found myself on a visa run to Hong Kong, I returned, quit the job and left China. What I do understand is that the problem stems from the actual Chinese visa system, any school would be happy to finance a z visa but they are bogged down by selective licensing on schools by the political system. It actually feels like the system wants to place professional foreign nationals in dangerous situations where they find themselves under the control of a school that simply is not allowed to apply for a so called z visa. Even nationals that marry a Chinese, find themselves offered a visa which does not allow them to work? How absurd and nasty can a visa system get? Let's have some truth on the so called sex offenders, look at the size of China,the population is huge but in something like 30 years they have around a dozen cases involving foreign nationals, a few bad apples slip through screening in any country but in China the amount is incredibly low yet the state media fix on such things and blow it up out of proportion, rather than look at their own nationals where sex offenses from Chinese teachers reaches staggering proportions. Yet the media coverage is back page news. The state simply needs to be fair with its school licensing system, properly screen applicants from all schools as no applicant or school would feel cornered into hiring unqualified teachers by a bias visa and school license system and this would go a long way to addressing a visa system which borders on criminally designed. Buying not needed medicals at extortionate prices from state owned hospitals whilst undergoing a humiliating medical process which is simply baffling? China wants to be part of the global community but continues to behave like a shifty second hand car salesman. They need professional English trainers, so start paying a professional wage, allow all English schools to apply for the so called z visa and drop the bogus money making medical scam, this in turn will attract the real qualified professionals to come and help the country master an international language tool.

Aug 24, 2015 21:21 Report Abuse



I wrote a blog a time ago about the ignorance way the China Bureau of Education employing people from some short listed countries, just because of their look and color. Making such people eligible to teach in China. I told you Guys, "Teaching is a profession" "Not a nationality !! I advised you guys to employ professional teachers, instead of employing people Just because of their ethnicity, nationality or color. !!! You only put professional African teachers in the disqualified list.. But hey, African teachers are the best of it all !! I say it again an again: Education isn't about nationality or color, But the quality of education the person has passed through !! How on earth can you employ zoo keepers, street sweepers, street guy into a classroom and expect good result ? Before you know, things has gone beyond repairs !!!

Aug 20, 2015 08:23 Report Abuse



It seems like this topic goes around and around forever but here are my major disagreements: While its true some retired teachers are excellent and by that I mean fully qualified BA+ Teaching and decades of actual full-time teaching back home its also true many of them are terrible/struggle/go terribly wrong/cannot translate or readjust for China. The 2nd category is very often as good or better which is people (like me) who do not have a relevant Uni degree but worked as tutors and ESL volunteers or teaching assistants or simply took CELTA or TEFL courses in genuine interest of a career change. Some might argue this is the BEST because they come in as ESL teachers and aren't trying to 'convert'(translate, rework) 10 or 20 years teaching in a public school. Anyways, I also disagree with the 3rd group in that I'm still surprised how many I meet who (for example) came to China to backpack, met a boyfriend/girlfriend and with zero experience were offered a summer school job and guess what - did GREAT! that describes one of the most popular and awesome English teachers in one of my schools. Don't laugh at old alcoholics. A burned-out drunken Dutchman who was traveling Asia (and probably was a truck driver back home) was hired and I say sincerely he absolutely loved those kids, cared, had the worst presentation ever (barely audible sometimes) and was so sincere and well-meaning and caring I count him as one of the best teachers (i mean teachers not just ESL teachers) I've ever seen. I wish that guy was my 6th grade teacher when i was a kid. ------- and now to the relative comparison. Well guess what China? about a 3rd of your teachers are horrible, useless, appear to have no education themselves, are drunks or perverts or just plain ridiculous and bad at their job. This is also true of most any American public school, British school, Zimbabwe schools etc. Its also true of Trucking, Nursing, Journalism, etc. Having said all that yes of course we don't want freaks and weirdo's showing up. For reasons that baffle me I've seen great great foreign teachers treated like garbage by incompetent employers who skim and cheat and pinch the money and then I see some slob weirdo foreigner running the whole show over at another school getting good cash and somehow able to get away with anything. and finally for what its worth: I've been on the other side where our company hired many foreign workers from China to Canada. While half of them did seem to be skilled at the thing they were hired for it was pretty clear a bunch of them has absolutely ZERO experience, training or education in said job. Someone's cousin I guess. realistically everyone knew 10% of them had absolutely no experience or training however they were Chinese and in a group and so what - the others basically coached and 'crash course' trained them what to do and so they did as well as any others. a few true experts failed or quit or got fired while so did any others. some of the obvious 'fakes' actually hustled quick and a week later as good as any other.

Aug 18, 2015 02:41 Report Abuse



Making TEFL or equivalent, some of which can be obtained online (how on Earth can a teacher be trained online?!?!) a guarantee of getting good teachers is very short-sighted of the Chinese authorities. Unfortunately for the Chinese market however, properly (read state) qualified Western teachers are still in very short supply to fill the abundance of roles, especially those "non-jobs" found in dodgy training centres.

Aug 17, 2015 02:17 Report Abuse



No one is to blame but China itself. I think the wage structure and the lack of professionalism from the majority of Chinese schools. Plus the borderline racist views that teachers should be white are the reason that schools have teachers who don't give a shit. When a teacher arrives in China full of enthusiasm and excitement only to find companies who don't give a shit about their teaching quality and students who don't respect the subject and are forced to learn it by their parents. Then how do they expect the teachers to react but in the same way. When China takes education seriously then they will start to obtain serious teachers.

Aug 14, 2015 13:56 Report Abuse



Thumbs up on that. I've seen 3 very well qualified teachers arrive even full of enthusiasm and 'missionary zeal' sometimes and then get their souls crushed and are gone by the end of 3 months because there is no way in hell they can accept a ridiculous company, abusive kids, ignorant incompetent 'bosses' who seem to only know how to get off on 'feedback meetings' (so insanely high off the idea they are criticizing a foreigner) and finally they cannot take it and leave actually with great resentment.

Aug 18, 2015 02:48 Report Abuse



The article is fake. Chinese schools only care that the teacher is a native speaker, as long as the candidate is a native speaker Chinese don't care about his education, qualification or criminal record. I have a Master's degree, English is my Bachelor major and I have a teaching experience, but I'm not hired because I'm not a native speaker.

Aug 11, 2015 20:19 Report Abuse



Man, this is China. They employ people just because of their ethnicity, Nationality and color. They never focus on the quality of education the candidate can provide! No matter your qualifications, skills and experience, if you're not from those short listed countries and in some color, you're disqualified !! hahahahaha... really unbelievable !!!!

Aug 20, 2015 08:44 Report Abuse



Old, old news . Anyone with any experience at all has seen the most incredibly horrible business practices repeated over and over for years . Schools hire the cheapest teachers, treat them poorly, and then brand them as incompetent. This writer is obviously just keeping the anti-foreigner rhetoric alive while omitting the fact that it's all driven by Chinese owned companies. Yawn. "Real" teachers are offered lower pay because training centers pass off cheap teachers as native speakers. These "teachers" are then given inexperienced support systems and no curriculum or training to speak of. Everybody here knows it. This is NOT NEWS, this is just propaganda.

Aug 11, 2015 19:36 Report Abuse



My two cents. I am 100% qualified as an English teacher. Native speaker with a degree and now two years experience teaching in the country. I would really like to be teaching legally right now. When I went to the managers in my company, they refused to give me the paperwork that is legally owed when you finish your contract. Would not issue the release letter, etc. Now if the Chinese staff at this company had complied with the law, there would be no problems. As things are right now, I cannot legally teach in the province I've been living in because the laws are too strict about issuing a new legal work visa and my old company was trying to blackmail me. So, to the original author, you can't understand every situation based on academic expectations. There's this thing we call case studies, you might want to look into them sometime.

Aug 11, 2015 18:14 Report Abuse



Teaching is all about style and delivery, anyone who knows that gem of a book, The Elements of Style will realise not many English speaking people understand English as well as one would think, people tend to speak like they think, not very logically, with no clear intention, Me thinks expectations exceeds reality on all sides. need to relax, its all good. Cheers!

Aug 09, 2015 19:44 Report Abuse



International Schools best to work at, plenty legitimate language institutions too, hard to guess really - carry out a Tarot reading to find out more.

Aug 07, 2015 02:46 Report Abuse



HAHAHAHA... so many English teachers here on echinacities! Bunch of losers whining since the last paradise is also closing its doors from garbage. Thank god you all leave soon.

Aug 07, 2015 01:56 Report Abuse



It's not "from garbage" but "on garbage". I could come and give you some English lessons if you would like. 500 RMB an hour with a minimum of 2 hours and call-out fee. If you can afford that.

Aug 08, 2015 07:54 Report Abuse



Thanks but I'm not planning to become an English teacher. Go teach someone who cares.

Aug 08, 2015 13:13 Report Abuse



This professional worker Guest626460 with all his qualifications earns much less than ESL teachers and works twice as many hours, this my friends is the reason why he is so butt hurt. Might be the fact that he is still a virgin as well, while ESL teachers get model-like Chinese girls all the time, heck the girls even pay dinners to ESL teachers in China. Cry cry virgin boy, be angry while your sister jumps onto my big pole.

Aug 10, 2015 20:17 Report Abuse



Even if China closes it's doors, your Mom's door will still be open. It clearly was ...15...maybe 17 years ago...whatever your age is.

Aug 11, 2015 18:17 Report Abuse



"To Garbage" (you owe me 500 rmb) ;)

Aug 18, 2015 02:52 Report Abuse



The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. The roof, the roof, the roof is on fire. We don't need no water let the English teachers burn. Burn English teachers, buuuRRRN.

Aug 20, 2015 00:42 Report Abuse



Its people like you that make me glad I am a photographer now. Imagine a whiny brat like you in one of my classrooms. You'd have a bottle of cheap Rio and lie to me about it having no alcohol, I'd explain no meant 0% and you'd pretend to be confused...then we'd both leave the school and I'd become a photographer and I'd run into you again...driving my taxi to work for 12 yuan.

Feb 20, 2016 12:12 Report Abuse



"China is flooded with illegal teachers". The demand for ESL teachers far exceeds those willing to come to China to teach English. It is not a desirable country to come to. The ESL profession is not something people view as a long term career. So why would they spend lots of time/money being trained for it? It's a simple question of economics. I can earn more money working in Burger King in the west. This author paints the absolute worst picture. The truth is many graduates who come here are smart and driven. They do their best in difficult circumstances. The schools are poorly run, often with no set idea of a curriculum. The Chinese teachers are hired straight from crappy universities, also poorly qualified, terrible English and horrible pronunciation The author neglects to mention this. The Chinese have to take responsibility for quality assurance and security checks. They allow somebody with no Educational experience to set up an English school. They have no centralized quality control. Whose fault is that? Thousands of ESL teachers have not abused children and you get three that do. Yet the author feels this is a real problem. Bullshit. They need to worry about seedy Chinese men more than ESL teachers The best teacher my former school ever had, was a teacher who had never been to university. He was fantastic and knew more about English grammar than most graduates. The worst teacher was a Glasgow university teaching graduate. She was rotten and the kids learned nothing. The author is an idiot. He would never mention the many good teachers or admit how thorough the CELTA course is. It is tough

Aug 06, 2015 07:18 Report Abuse



The danger of NOT hiring illegal foreign teachers is running out of business since these schools don't have a license to hire foreigners legally anyway. Parents won't pay no fee if they don't get a White face for their little baozi. It's easy to blame the foreigners, but they are often not very aware of what they throw themselves in, on the other hand the Chinese employers are perfectly aware that they are hiring an illegal foreigner and of the consequences that could come along with it.

Aug 06, 2015 01:12 Report Abuse



It's easier for China to export this problem and blame someone else the same way the West exports our literal garbage to China for them to reclaim. Each side pretending they don't need each other and sneering. How very adolescent of the world. Actually, this article sounds very similar to what Donald Trump has been saying about Chinese people...

Aug 11, 2015 18:20 Report Abuse