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Discrimination in ESL

Kylej (2 posts) • +1

Although in this very competitive country - China, people do everything it takes to break through in business, I am very strongly against malpractices like bribery, dishonesty, discrimination, etc.

1. It is wrong to think that an English teacher MUST be a native English speaker. (Being a native speaker of a language doesn't qualify one enough to teach that language.)

2. It is even worse to think that an English teacher must be a white man from some shortlisted countries. (Teaching a language has nothing to do with the colour of one's skin)

3. It is wrong to think that people whose first language is not English can't teach English. (Some of the best ESL teachers, trainers and ESL course book writers are not native English speakers. Not all Americans, British, Australians, etc are native English speakers.)

Unfortunately, this is the mentality, less educated, ignorant and sometimes purely prejudiced persons have and pass on to the younger generation. We are not simply English teachers. We are educators and models. It is our duty to correct this way of thinking instead of encouraging it by getting involved in bribery and lies about people's origins and identities. By doing so, educators that we are, help in promoting social evils like racism, discrimination and prejudice. We ought to prove the society wrong.

My story: (A little long, read if you have the patience).

When I arrived in China many years back I was shocked at the prejudiced ads online with phrases like 'whites only' 'No Africans please' 'you must be American, British, bla bla bla.' With 5years ESL teaching experience before arriving in China, I felt for the first time like a fish out of water. I called my mom and told her I wanted to go back home because I felt like an unwanted person. My mom felt so bad that she talked to my dad about it. My dad on the contrary was not that worried. I remember his words so clearly: "Son, if you meet darkness, do not run away, light a candle." He said and hung up on me.

I was still in Guangzhou, my one month L visa was running out. The guy I was temporary putting up with was putting pressure on me to leave or pay rents. In this desparate situation I fell in to the trap. I got duped by a visa agent who promised both a job and an F visa. That's how I found myself in my first teaching position in China - a small village school in Xi'an.

At first things looked promising. I was sharing a two bedroom apartment with a fellow teacher Tony from the Philippines. The students loved me. Soon the enrollment doubled. Then came the bomb. The boss asked us to lie to the students as well as their parents. Tony was asked to say he was from New Zealand and I had to say I was from New York. In fact the boss had already lied to the students and the parents. He was just telling us to be sure his lie would work. As the enrollment rose students started asking us to tell them about our respective countries. Tony knew nothing about New Zealand neither did I about America let alone New York. I managed on for a few months and quit after six months without telling the students the truth for the sake of the school and my friend. Tony accepted it and stayed on. The boss was red when he received my resignation letter. He promised me hell in China. He said I was never going to get a job in China with the mentality I had. Tony also warned me because I told him I was heading to Beijing. As he saw me off at the bus station to Xi'an city he said I could get a job in the smaller cities but asked me to put Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen off my list.

While in Xi'an I called my parents again and told them about the situation. My mom was really ok with me going back home for my return flight ticket was still valid. But my dad pushed me on. In my mind I really wanted to go back home but I thought, it would be better to give it the worst shot before leaving. One of the reasons was also the curiousity of seeing Beijing. I boarded the train to Beijing. The city of Beijing fascinated me. The hustling and bustling, the nightlife and everything else. I spent everyday in the internet cafe next to the small place where I was staying responding to ads online. I got calls everyday from schools but who all hung up on me after the first question "Where are you from?",and sometimes they asked me to forward to video,I made a short one but found myself in trouble in sending it over by email,YouTube and DropBox are banned .It grew more and more frustrating so in anger I rewrote my CV. (My first CV had the nationality line omitted deliberately as advised by friends in Guangzhou). This time I included the following lines after the introductory paragraph in bold: "I am not from America, Canada, Britain, Australia, New Zealand, I am from Cameroon - Africa. I am a trained ESL teacher, give me a chance in the classroom and watch what I can do." Four days passed, no calls from any school. I was sure that was it. I was ready to leave. In fact what kept me was the plan to visit the Tian na men square I had heard so much about. I really wanted to take some pictures for my brothers.

Then one morning I got a call from a Canadian, Chris Carter. He was in charge of recruitments at the Aihua Foreign Language Academy. My CV had struck him. He also give me a site called Antaid.com where I can upload my video along with other information.My video had an impact. They hired me. At the end of the summer camp they asked me to sign full time. I turned down the offer because my resume with the bold lines was still circulating and calls were still coming in. I got a few more calls but turned them down. They were all part time hours.

These are some of the consequences of the biased mentality here:

- Fake teaching certificates and college degrees are everywhere at very affordable prices with prestigious names of universities on them. Recruiters believe them. The business is booming because recruiters are not looking at whether or not the teacher is qualified to teach. They are looking at the name of the university and the country.

- Out of the frustration of being marginalized, many of my African brothers and sisters have taken to unworthy means of making a living in China because it's the option the society here has given them.
- Cases of Africans with expired visas abound in China because a visa from an African country for extension is considered "a bad case" both by visa agents and the immigration office while back in African countries citizens of many other countries around the world walk in and out freely.

- For an African in China to date a Chinese girl, during your discussion, face-to-face or online, you have to say something like "you know I am African but I grew up in London, New York, Canada, bla bla bla" Then you can be considered. If it's online simply say, "I am American" her pictures and phone number are all yours in a minute. (No offense Chinese sisters, I have a chinese girlfriend who loves me very much as a Cameroonian. She also loves Africa).

BTW, here is some laughter for you. It happened to my friend from South Africa. She introduced herself to be from South Africa in class and one of her students hurriedly asked her: "Then why are you white?" Now don't rush into saying it is ignorance, no no no, it's a mastery of the lectures about Africa parents give their children here.

So dear Chinese friends, prejudice is a social evil. Think of all the chinese investments in Africa, all the Chinese living in African countries (7000 in my country - Cameroon), think of all the diplomatic ties that have been made with numerous conferences and friendship slogans and then think about the way we are regarded here; the cold stares, remarks, mockery laughs, etc.

In China foreigners who are white are referred to as 'wai gou ren' while foreigners who are black are refered to as 'hei ren.' It hurts to be reminded all the time of one's skin colour and the fact that one is a foreigner here.

*Imagine if people started calling chinese people "Yellows" or "Yellow men."

*Imagine you in a foreign country sitting on a seat on the bus or on the train with the two other seats to your left and to your right deserted eventhough the bus is packed.

*Imagine you walking in the park just to relax, a little child sees you and says 'hello' happy to meet you and the mother grabs him and carries him away in her arms as if to say "how dare you go near that .... (I don't know what)".

*Imagine you walking on the street and every time you approach people someone is saying "Kan kan Kan yi xia" or elbowing the other to see what kind of person is coming.

*Imagine students' parents saying "My daughter's teacher is black but he can teach well."

*Imagine all the ads online carrying hurting phrases like: 'we don't do visas for African countries,' 'teachers from Africa - don't apply please' 'I want a boyfriend - no blacks'

I could go on and on naming them and may be you will just say like some friends have said to me before: "This is China, you can not change it, if you are not happy go back to your country." No no no no no and no. I am a teacher and I am an educator.

Educators, it is our challenge to mould the society. Dear black brothers and sisters. Do not run away from the darkness, light a candle.

Credit to Dennis as Echinacities Blogger about this Article

Comment: To Those Expats who intend to teach English, I hope you can obtain something from this article especially to African Expat. Chinese parents and education institues are racist on the english teaching matter even the chinese government because it is kind of hard for them to apply for work visa and residency to work in China legally. This is common in many first-tier cities like Shenzhen, Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai.

Napoleon (1176 posts) • 0

In your desperate plea of victimhood, you've forgotten that native speakers who meet the requirements can work and teach in China.
That's blown most of your argument out of the water straight off.

Surely there has to be a cut off point, and that cut off point has been made without excluding ALL non native speakers.

There is no official reason but we can only assume that prevelance is given to native speakers because:

They are more likely to have a clear standard accent.

They are more (debatable this one) likely to have greater linguistic knowledge of the language.

They have knowledge about countries such as New Zealand and America, places most language learners have aspirations to study in.

Classroom etiquette shouldn't come into it, if it's a worthwhile place then it will be assumed whoever has the job is skilled in the classroom, so let's not start with the ''I'm a great teacher''. In all my years in education I have never heard anyone say ''I'm a really shit teacher.'' even the really shit ones. So this is a non starter for an argument.

Non native speakers are more likely to say things like ''rents''. A native speaker may use the word 'authors' instead of 'book writers'. Non natives are more likely to look clueless when imparting knowledge of Britain, NZ etc. Not many people want the inside track on life in a Manila slum I'm afraid.

Guess what? Stares and comments dont stop when you're white. You're dealing with farmers who up until seeing you have been bent over a paddy field. Expect some comments and laughs, it's part of living here.

Chinese DO refer to themselves as 'yellow', tell me I'm white just as they do you black. There's no need to delve into the semantics of the language here; it's the colour of our skin.

To excuse our fellow Africans who come here with no intent on returning or making ends meet through elicit means. There aren't your 'brothers in arms', these are the people who make the task all the more harder when you trot into the PSB.

Someone who is willing to say they're American and blame everything on their nationality seems to me to be someone who's looking for excuses in their failings, someone who's pretty insecure.

I get a lot of the ''but you're White''. Who cares? I wouldn't expect a Chinese taxi driver/shop keeper/ student to have any idea of white intergration in Africa. Why would they? Just as you know nothing about New York or New Zealand.

I would love to have empty seats next to me on a crowded bus, I would not care one jot.

I have never seen 'fake' overseas university degrees ''everywhere'' and this wouldn't stand up, they are checked and apostilled at the PSB and the Embassy, hate to ruin your moan.

Let's not point fingers at China, I have a Zimbabwean friend in Cameroon. Your own visa procedure is China BS X 10. When a country has a visa that is difficult to get the other countries usually reciprocate.

It just seems like a China sob story. These things happen. Get 'Qualied up' and they will happen a lot less.

Sorry, all camaraderie was lost on me:
Your African ''Brother''

Liumingke1234 (3139 posts) • 0

Recently in the news many Africans have been protesting. I think it was in Guangzhou. Many have overstayed their visas and are causing trouble (according to the authorities) so this makes a tough situation even worse. Sorry for your pain. Maybe being here is not the right time for you. Good Luck!
This was a few years ago.
www.theguardian.com/[...]

nnoble (888 posts) • 0

Can't disagree with the first three responses. However, China needs immigration now and the need will grow exponentially. Africans are the one group willing to help China counter the demographic shortfall in sufficient numbers. China has to begin to adapt, become more welcoming or suffer the consequences. Immigrants everywhere across the globe could be better viewed as an opportunity rather than a problem. On current form China will probably choose to suffer the consequences rather than open up to mass immigration.

Napoleon (1176 posts) • 0

China has dealt with sub Saharan Africa since the Tang. Back then Africans came to Xi'an, not as slaves like Europe and Arabia, but as traders and experts.
In more recent times China supported most of the Nationalist uprisings in Africa. Despite the armchair experts opinions they are popular as a nation in Africa, or at least the parts I can speak.
Now they are putting in the infastructure that Africa needs, with a huge rise in population. They can't trade their skills or finance as the continent lacks that, so they trade the easiest thing, resources. Whether Europe or China does business with Africa, all Africa can offer as it stands, and has stood for 200 years, is its natural resources.

Hong Kong gives out the easiest visas to most african nations, but even that's been cut in recent times. China gives scholarships to Africans and invited Africans to Chinese universities in the nineties, that's part of the reason I'm here. I've never heard of Korea, Japan, Singapore or more economically advanced Asian nations doing this. I do remember a programme where many Zimbabweans were sent to North Korea in the mid nineties, but apart from this a welcome from Japan or Korea would be news to me and other Africans.

China has excess in terms of unskilled labour, which is mostly what the majority of Africans are. It would be madness to do anything but make exceptions.

As for the article's any Google search on drecrimination of Africans in China brings up many results'' what kind of reporting is that? I could search "lizard people run the Earth" and find page upon page of results, wouldn't make it true.

No ones doubting discrimination but on levels that exceed Europe or North and South America and Africa ITSELF!! I would doubt that very much.

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