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English In Liuzhou


In theory, most young people in Liuzhou should speak some English. The language is compulsory in all schools. In reality, few get beyond "Hello. How are you?"

That said there are a few people with excellent English.

Among the middle classes, there is great parental pressure on schoolchildren to succeed in exams and a mini-industry has arisen here, as in other cities, to offer additional English lessons. These private language schools also offer adult tuition. Many people see English exam passes as a key to a higher position or salary.

Unfortunately, most of these schools are more concerned with making money than with the education. Teachers are poorly qualified (and poorly paid) and few students get any real benefit. As a result, recently, there has something of a backlash against the schools, which are now engaged in fierce competition to mop up the remaining students.

One way they attempt to win favour with the paying public, is to employ foreign teachers. Few of them have the authority to do so and are therefore employing those teachers illegally, and despite their promises are unable to supply working visas. It is illegal to work in China on a tourist visa. For more information on teaching in China, see our education pages.

So desperate are some of these schools, that they will employ almost any foreigner who looks western, irrespective of their English or teaching skills. I have met "English teachers" who could barely talk to me. All that is required is that they look like they might speak English and can be shown off to prospective clients.

In the state sector, things are better, but not perfect. Standards of teacher training have been improving over recent years and a more communicative approach is being used. Large class sizes (60 -80 students) and a lack of motivation among students hinder real progress. The exam system is in desperate need of reform, but remains paramount. Many teachers complain that they are not able to 'teach English', but merely teach 'how to pass the exam.'

Please note that some organisations in the UK and USA are offering places in middle schools for foreign teachers. Again, the vast majority of middle schools are not licensed to employ foreigners and cannot supply the legal paperwork despite all the promises they give (see above). You are strongly advised to check locally before coming to China. Contact us if you need advice.