Should You Teach English in China?

Teaching English in China Some say the risk Is greater than the reward Welcome back to China Uncensored. I’m Chris Chappell. We’ve all been there. You worked hard to get your expensive college
degree… only to realize it’s left you desperately unprepared for the real world. So what do you do? Obviously the answer is take out student loans to go back to school and get another expensive
degree. Don’t try this at home, kids. Trust me. But for others who don’t go to grad school, the answer could be teaching English overseas. Now I often get asked: Is it a good idea to teach English in China? To which I say, teaching English in an authoritarian surveillance
state that arrests people in the middle of the night and sends them to labor camps? What could possibly go wrong? There are about 400,000 foreigners working in the Chinese education system. But, oddly enough, things are going wrong. According to Reuters, there’s been a surge of arrests of foreign
teachers in China. In fact, one American lawyer whose firm has been handling many of the cases,
said, “The risks of going to China to teach far
outweigh the rewards.” They’ve written extensively about it on
their own website. The risks are serious. Education First is a Swiss company that operates 300 schools in China. They’ve seen a “significant” increase
in detentions in China for alleged offenses including drugs, fighting and cybersecurity violations. Mainly these detentions have resulted in docked
pay or deportation. But some of those crimes, especially drug
crimes, can be met with severe punishment in China. Especially if, for instance, the country you’re
from might be having a political dispute with China. But Chris, you say, Chinese authorities should
crack down on foreign teachers guilty of drug offenses. Well, they’re not just going after teachers who committed drug offenses *in China.* According to Education First, staff have been “picked up by police at
their home and work as well as in bars and nightclubs and have
been questioned and brought in for drug testing.” That drug testing involves using hair samples. Hair samples can contain traces of cannabis
for up to three months. That can be a problem for teachers who come
from countries where cannabis is legal. Like parts of the United States. Or all of Canada. Now is generally not a great time to be Canadian
in China. In fact, Canadians in China might want to just pretend to be Americans. It’s only fair. Americans abroad have been pretending to be
Canadians for years. Anyway, China’s Ministry of Education is
using these drug “scandals” to make a push for dealing with foreign teachers “in a serious manner with no appeasement.” But don’t worry. It’s not that the Chinese Communist Party simply hates foreign English teachers. They hate foreigners in general! See, this latest crackdown on foreign teachers seems to be part of a broader rise in anti-foreign
sentiment. And of course, the Communist Party wants the education system to be ideologically
pure. And a lot of those those misguided foreigners are not particularly helpful when it comes
to pushing “core socliast values.” The problem, when it comes to education, is Chinese intellectuals. “Intellectuals expect more toward democracy and the rule of law from globalization. Some of them express unrealistic dissatisfaction toward the country.” Lousy intellectuals. Complaining about the country just because it doesn’t have democracy or the rule of
law, or because the government kills its own citizens
for meditating. Intellectuals make such unreasonable demands! The Communist Party has always made schools the front line in ideological indoctrination. It comes in waves. Chairman Mao hated intellectuals. His Cultural Revolution forced students to denounce their teachers for backwards thinking and holding Western sympathies. There was more freedom in the 80s. But after the mass student protests in 1989 that ended with the Tiananmen Square Massacre, the Communist Party realized that the people had been allowed to think a little too freely. So they launched another wave of patriotic
education. And after current Chinese leader Xi Jinping
took power, he stressed so-called “core socialist values” and socialist education. Xi gave a speech last year saying “it’s imperative to uphold Marxism as
a guiding ideology and stick to the path of socialist education with Chinese characteristics.” Obviously, it’s not imperative to uphold
the parts of Marxism that say you shouldn’t allow giant corporations. Or let rich elites play around with millions… while the masses are dirt poor. Or frankly, let any private individual own
the means of production. Especially Jack Ma. But, you know, the people ought to uphold the *other* parts
of Marxism. Like the “conquest of political power by
the working class.” Uh, wait, don’t do that either. Anyway, according to Reuters, “Last September, China launched a wide-reaching
campaign to remove foreign influences from education, including efforts to ban foreign history courses, outlaw self-taught material and revise textbooks to focus on core Communist Party ideology.” Which means less time for teaching useless
things like English, and more time for Xi Jinping thought! And state-run media have been a big part of the demonization of foreign teachers. The most tasteful being my favorite, the Global Times. Take for instance this lovely article, Guests of China need to deserve what they
get, with a close up of a black student for some
reason. It complains “Foreigners in China have been
granted ‘super-national treatment’ and even extra-legal privileges.” We’ll look at that special treatment foreigners are getting in a moment. And this article calls for “a crackdown
on ‘unqualified’ and ‘immoral’ foreign teachers in the
country.” And this article uses a scandal involving
2 people to drum up anti-foreign sentiment against the other 400,000 foreign teachers. It also criticizes parents who believe foreigners can teach English better than Chinese teachers. What a crazy thing for parents to believe! Which is why this article says its a crime
for parents to deprive their children of the right to
patriotic education. All this means foreign teachers in China are increasingly vulnerable and easily taken
advantage of. So what happens to a bright eyed foreigner who comes to China to teach English? I asked fans of China Uncensored to send me
their stories. I’ve altered their names to protect their
identities. MP wrote to me that while in China, “We must notify our bosses with where we
were going, who we were going with, for how long, and why.” DB said, “The bathrooms were never cleaned and really
disgusting since the school did not have janitors. I had to clean my own room after every class. The students were great.” SD said, “We were given rules to follow
on campus and in the surrounding community. I was also informed that we will be watched
closely at all times.” That person also said they were punched by
a student, who got off because the parents were wealthy. Foreign textbooks with content counter to
the official Party line were also seized… and burned. Yeah, book burning is always a good sign of
progress. TB told me, “The ‘Us vs. them’ mentality was prevalent everywhere I went, even in Shanghai. The extra paperwork we have to do every year
for the visa, the stares, the looks; what’s the point of learning the culture
and language if that is how we get treated?” LDH said, “I had local police come monthly to check
to see if I still live at the same apartment.” He also mentioned, “not getting paid at all or them finding every single excuse in the book to deduct your salary that would make your
jaw drop” ISB said, “Apart from teaching English, we were told to teach PE, clean the school, serve food and wipe up butts.” BQ said, “Workers here have no rights whatsoever. Unpaid overtime is expected of everyone, including
me. I’m paid for 20 hours of work per week, but the school has tried to get me to work
40.” KN said, “I was followed by two plain clothes
police and basically assaulted at my front door. They claimed we were harboring a fugitive.” And here’s my personal favorite: MW said, “Another thing was being ‘corrected’ by Chinese coworkers on English grammar. Being told the origin of Christmas was an
orphan boy wandering the woods in December who then found shelter under a pine tree. That the plural of peanut, ( peanuts) is pronounced ‘penis.’” Which means those students are going to have a really interesting time if they ever order
snacks at a baseball game. There were other stories viewers told me,
too. Things like dealing with propaganda, brainwashing, corruption, and even sexual
harassment. Also finding out that they were hired illegally
by the school and having the police take their passports
away. But not all the stories were negative. A lot of people had positive experiences,
too. Many said despite all the craziness they had
to deal with, they had an amazing time, met many great people— students and adults, and made friends for life. Some people even met their spouses in China. But in the current environment, is the risk
worth the reward? Let me know what you think in the comments
below. If you’re seriously thinking of teaching
English in China, make sure you do your research first. And if you’ve taught in China, share your story below! And before you go, now is the time when I answer a question from a member of the China Uncensored 50 cent
army— fans who support the show on the crowd funding
website Patreon! Shelley floryd asks, “think there’s a considerable threat of the Chinese/American trade war escalating into actual military warfare (like how people feared the Russian/American
Cold War would escalate to nuclear war)?” A great question! There certainly is cause for concern. As I mentioned in a recent episode, the gap in ability between the US and the Chinese Communist Party’s military
is shrinking. This recent report by the Council on Foreign
Relations says China could soon rival the US in fields
like AI, robotics, 5G, and possibly biotechnology. So a war between the United States and China could be very bad for both sides. However, I don’t think it will come to that. At least not because of the trade war. China’s economy is suffering from it. That’s an existential threat to the Chinese
regime. The last thing the Communist Party can manage is throwing itself into an actual armed conflict
with the US. Even though the military tech might be improving,
remember, China has not been in an armed conflict since a brief war with Vietnam in the 70’s. It has essentially no experienced leadership. So even more so than in the Cold War, I think the chance of a physical military
confrontation with China is low. Thanks for you question and your support. And if you have a question for me you want to hear answered on the show, sign up to join the China Uncensored 50 cent
army, by supporting the show with a dollar or more
per episode. Again, YouTube is demonetizing us so much we would have to shut down the show if it weren’t for your support. And to everyone, thanks for watching! Once again I’m your host Chris Chappell. See you next time.

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