On July 15, the Ministry of Education held a media briefing at which it pledged to strengthen oversight of foreign teachers at after-school establishments, and said any teacher found to have violated laws and regulations would be punished according to the law, no matter who they are.
Speaking at the briefing, Lyu Yugang, director of the ministry’s Department of Basic Education, said establishments that hire expat teachers should abide by the relevant regulations for foreigners employed in China.
The teachers they hire should be registered with the local education authority, and provide basic personal information, employment history, educational background, teaching credentials and other qualifications, he said.
In addition, training institutions should publish background information about all of their teachers, Chinese or foreign, and the files should be available to the public, including parents and other interested parties, he said.
Yang Ming, chief human resources officer at New Channel International Education Group in Beijing, said the company strictly follows the regulations related to foreign experts’ work permits, and those who fail to meet the requirements are not hired, irrespective of their teaching prowess.
“The regulation is the red line for all companies, and none of them should cross it to hire foreign teachers illegally,” he said.
In addition, New Channel has imposed its own regulations to oversee foreign teachers. For example, those who are late for class or leave early will receive a fine ranging from 100 to 2,000 yuan and they must apologize to their students. Moreover, they should refrain from smoking, drinking, chewing gum or playing with their cellphone during class, Yang said.
Members of the management randomly inspect classes to monitor foreign teachers’ performances, and assistants ask students to provide feedback about teachers, he said.
“It is difficult and costly to find qualified foreign teachers, yet we are willing to shoulder the cost and employ only the best to give our students a good education,” Yang said.
Qiao Lei, CEO of BlingABC, an online English teaching platform in Beijing that is a subsidiary of New Oriental Education and Technology Group, said the company has maintained strict qualification requirements for all foreign teachers since it was founded two years ago.
All teachers must be native speakers, hold a bachelor’s degree along with CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or TESOL(Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certificates. In addition, all their relevant information and qualifications are open to general scrutiny on its platform, he said.
The company has adopted an evaluation system based on credit for its foreign teachers. Points are deducted from those who violate company regulations, such as arriving late or being the subject of complaints from parents, which will affect their salary and position, Qiao added.
Kelly Hong, director of Bling-ABC’s Center of Foreign Teacher Management, said the company records all classes on its platform and they are reviewed by staff members and parents.
“Some parents may have low requirements for foreign teachers and think that native speakers should be able to teach English well, but that’s simply not the case－just like not every Chinese person is able to teach the Chinese language,” she said.
Hong added that establishments still need professionals who know how to manage a class, understand body language, can energize students and know the basic principles and methods of teaching a second language.
Qiao noted that the high demand in the sector resulted in several English-language platforms being founded almost every week last year. However, many subsequently closed because the teachers they employed did not meet the stringent quality standards.
“The market has a way of weeding out companies that engage in malpractice. At the end of the day, parents still prefer foreign teachers who can offer high-quality English tuition to their children.”