Can we open the parents eyes?
How can we, as teachers, get the parents to open there eyes?
I have traveled to China for several years, Married a wonderful chinese lady, and even teach here.
I have tried to understand sthe culture of China and my wife has tried her best to help me with this.
The thing i still do not understand is the sheer number of parents who will entrust the education of their children to "training schools" who do not care if the children learn to speak and understand English. They will pay thousands each year just to hear their child repeat some words but never actually learn anything.
They will now work with the children outside of the class to help there English. When i would advise them to try to speak English with the child while at home, they would act like I had insulted them. I actually had one parent complain that i was the teacher and that I should do my job and not try to put my work on them.
I have seen parents get angry and complain when a negative review was written about their child. I even worked for a school that would take my reviews and change them when they translated them to Chinese. I learned that this was to keep the parents happy so that they would continue to pay for the lessons. While at this school, I taught a high school class. Three of the students had attended this same school for better than 5 years. Their English was very bad. Speaking and listening to oral english was pitiful!!!
I had a discussion with the owner, and he told me that I needed to understand Chinese culture. The culture being, parents here feel that their children are getting the best English education possible because the teacher is a native english speaker.....
When I spoke to the owner more about this, he became angry. He told me that if we reviewed the students honestly then the parents would just find another school that would tell them what they wanted to hear. He told me that he would rather have their money than have it go to another school.
I ask my question again: What can be done to open the eyes of the parents here? Many of these children are going to western Universities and returning quickly because they cannot even understand the teachers.....
Thank you for your observation and advice. I understand English and I understand grammar. My typing is not always best and I still overlook some errors when I proof my work. Part of being human. You still fail to see the 'steak' because you spend too much time watching the "peas and carrots'. English schools in China, for the most part, take advantage of the parents and children.
Your blog is awesome and you shared your thoughts and views.In my point of view, like this time I am finding English teaching job. but still, I am not successful. The major reason is this, I am not native English speaker. Because here mostly employers are mentioned that the Chinese parents want only native English speaker. This a craze, because they can pay high amount for their kids. And when any teacher will interrupt, then they can not bear. They only know that teacher should be nice and kind with our kids.....and only concern with to learn teach teach English in anyway. They can not listen your suggestion, because the major problem is this they are paying heavy fees, after this, teacher is like a servant. But some Chinese are very genius in this matter, they involve the teacher and take advises from teacher for their kids for better learning.
Two problems here, schools/centers and parents. On the school/center side, education in China means business just like everything else. Fees are incredibly high compared to other countries but the standards far below most countries. In addition it is not unusual for deans/managers to request bribe money before considering one's application. Students only learn what they need to pass, test marks are being "enhanced" on a normal basis, parents see good grades and are satisfied. Learning anything that's not related to the next test? Nope. General knowledge? Only when it benefits the Party's line. On the parents side, you need to understand the concept of "face" and how it prevails in Chinese society. Parents want their kids to look good, get high marks and good reviews, because it gives them prestige in the eyes of other Chinese. I have a friend, her son has speaking problems but she won't send him to a specialist that I recommended because she is afraid that other people will discover his problems and mock her. China is all about appearances, no room for substance. The truth is a lot more complicated, this was a quick summary of the situation.
Chinese parents are stuck in their ways. They have their culture and believe in that. They don't want change and they definitely don't want us visitors to tell them what to do or how to do it. I work in "the best kindergarten" in the city, the level of education is shockingly low. They hired me for my knowledge an experience yet I have to teach "chinese style" because it is simply just the way it is done. I have taught my dogd more than I've taight my kids. The education is weak. Repeating phrases like parrots isn't learning, it's mimicking! If they are happy and proud with such standards there is nothing I can do about it, believe me I tried. What good is it getting qualified, experienced teachers from other countries, paying them 4, 5, 6 or 7 times that of the local teachers and not allowing them to do what we are here for - teach! I would love to make a difference, that's why I started teaching but I can't do much with my hands tied behind my back. If parents want to pay high tuition and get this kind of level of teaching, well they are getting exactly what they are asking for. If managent wants to support the parents and not the teachers in order to get money in that is their choice. Parents and Managers if you want us teachers to do our jobs, stop micro managing, let us do our jobs and increase the level of English in your country,for your country!
I have just stumbled on your blog now and I do agree with a few points that you raise. I myself came to China to teach ESL and while it was not always a dream, I did enjoy it. I understand and agree completely that some parents, not all, are like you describe and training schools in China are exactly the same as they are anywhere else in the world, they are businesses and see the 元 before anything else. Yes, I have been in your situation where parents don't want to hear that their child isn't good in English but there are a few strategies that can help. 1. Get to know your parents, and when a new student enrols into your class, make a point of meeting with them to discuss learning outcomes. Some parents want their kids to socialise more than learn when it comes to training schools, and there's nothing wrong with that. What you need to establish with the parents is that you are here as their teacher and you work on honesty, and there may be times you require them to be part of the learning process. 2. Don't just tell parents the problems, offer suggestions. I think it's fair to say that in any country around the world, if you told parents that their child has difficulty in learning or behaviour, they would get upset. Don't just dish out the problems, try and help the parents by offering at least 2 solutions per problem. Share games, or invite the student in for an additional review class... it's all about communication. These are some of the things that I used while teaching here which worked well. While it can be difficult to change mentalities and opinions where each training school is different, I think it's always best to try. Again, it's all about communication.
Great subject and comments ... I story of my own to add. I was approached many times to start an English school in a second level city in Zhejiang province and finally agreed to develop a program with a local Chinese couple who operate an after hours extracurricular activity school. Nice couple and seemed genuine enough. To cut a long story short, basically they wanted to market the "product" before the product was developed. In essence, the commercial "teaching" booklets they agreed to purchase from a local supplier (which were completely inadequate and against my recommendation) were supposedly all that was required because parents like to see their child with a book. In the end, I refused to participate further because I couldn't be apart of a business that was only interested in producing a puppet school to please parents and impress their friends with their new English school and a foreigner developing the program. Nor could I take people's hard earned money to deliver some random phrases and pretend the children were being taught English. I've seen enough teaching by self professed "native" speakers and foreigners passing themselves off as Americans when they hail from Southern Africa to understand the whole system is corrupted from both the schools and the teachers themselves, and parents being fooled out of their hard earned money. Not surprisingly, the contingent of non native English speaking white skinned people with such heavy accents that I as an Australian can't understand a significant portion of their "English language", is also significant in numbers, particularly at preschools. The owners know where these people originate from but the unsuspecting parents automatically believe their school provides what they profess. Personally, I see the issue as parents some how entrusting any business (private or not) with the word "school" in the business name. I admire their faith and I pity the children ... It's embrassing to have a Chinese parent ask their child to speak English with me and I can't understand what the child is saying. The almighty 元 ... Those shiny red Chairman Mao's make people do and say anything ... Such is life ... It wasn't any different in the so called west when we were a developing country(s)!
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