Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation – Part 4/4

May 28, 2011

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.

Return to Spoiled and Confused Part 3, start with Part 1 or discover China’s Sexual Revolution

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Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation – Part 3/4

May 27, 2011

A special (guest) report from the front lines of teaching English in China
By Chris “Foreign Monkey” Bewley

Most recently, I found myself having to literally, physically, throw out my Chinese teaching assistant (a recent college graduate with no classroom experience hired right off the street for a minimal salary) to avoid a mutiny from within.

You see, she absolutely refused to discipline the rowdiest students, and did nothing to help control their deafening volume when I was trying to teach.


A quarter of China’s rural youth overweight!

When I approached her about this, her response was: “you are not a real teacher!” I imagine that this assistant was once (11 years ago, to be precise) a spoiled, indifferent primary school student herself; how sadly ironic that at age 21 she still indentified with the students rather than with me, the teacher.

China’s universities are being touted with utilitarian promise, a promise that trickles down all the way to the elementary school level. The Chinese’s fear of poverty has undermined intellectual diversity; plagiarism and cheating are rampant and go unpunished, reading books is not encouraged, greater importance has been placed on math than any other subject starting in the earliest years of child development, and there are no other languages other than English offered until university.

Continued on May 28, 2011 in Spoiled and Confused Part 4 or return to Part 2

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Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.


Spoiled and Confused — China’s new urban generation – Part 2/4

May 26, 2011

A special (guest) report from the front lines of teaching English in China
By Chris “Foreign Monkey” Bewley

In the past year, I’ve had only a handful of students ever raise their hand and ask ME a question about the English language. That’s 1,200 students/week x 30 weeks, which equals 36,000 (thirty-six thousand) chances for a student to raise a question, but only five ever have. On the rare occasion that my students do ask me questions, it’s usually regarding the price of my clothes or how much I get paid.

Criticism about my lessons that I have received from students, parents and Chinese teachers alike includes “it’s too difficult”, “it’s not fun enough”, “there’s not enough participation/activity,” but never have I ever heard that my classes are too easy, which in my opinion they most certainly are.

By now, I have figured out that English lessons in (urban) China are just a show; a clown show; a monkey show – starring myself as the foreign monkey.

For parents’ week last month, whilst dozens of “concerned” parents and school administrators observed my classes for 5 days in a row, rather than actually teach their children, I just played a bunch of silly games and sang some songs with them, and, guess what? That made all the parents really, really happy!

Continued on May 27, 2011 in Spoiled and Confused Part 3 or return to Part 1

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Chris Bewley has taught English as a foreign language for the past 10 years all over the world, including Japan, Korea, Mexico and Brazil.

To subscribe to “iLook China”, look for the “Subscribe” button at the top of the screen in the menu bar, click on it then follow directions.