A special (guest) report from the front lines of teaching English in China
By Chris “Foreign Monkey” Bewley
The English “industry” in China is what I call “C.O.O.C”: completely out of control! There is literally a new, privately run children’s English “school” popping up on every other corner every other week. Nor is it an industry that has grown in a healthy, steady way from its infantile beginning; it is a product for infants in hyper-drive.
A perfect parallel to this is the car situation in China, which is also out of control.
I hate to say it because it has become an international cliché, but, truly, nobody in China knows how to drive or even park properly. Automobile ownership in China has, along with its economy, bloomed at an alarming rate in the past 5 years, resulting in massive congestion everywhere from the smallest towns to the largest cities.
It’s obvious that the people who own these cars use them primarily as status symbols rather than for necessity; it rarely rains in my city and there are no hills, yet every single day, 6 times a day, hundreds of parents dropping off/picking up their children in new, black Audis will cause an hour-long gridlock directly in front of my school rather than be seen walking or riding a bicycle.
Please don’t get me wrong, I am not a “China-hater.”
Colorful street life, extremely friendly people, great food, affordable massage parlors, a handful of good friends both Chinese and foreign, and a decent income have been sufficient to keep me reasonably comfortable.
But in the end, I have to ask myself: what am I here for? Because it’s obvious that China doesn’t want me to actually teach anybody anything.
Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.
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