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© 2015 by Marvin Fernandez. Proudly created with Wix.com

Teaching English in China from a native English speaker who is Asian. By Marvin Fernandez

March 2, 2015

View from my English class at Samsung Holdings offices, Guangzhou, China.

 

First of all let me start by saying that Im a native English speaker from London, who is half Japanese half Filippino. I have over nine years teaching experience in London, Italy, China, Ukraine, and online via Skype, however it was the most difficult for me to find an English teaching job in China!! why? because I have an asian looking face.

 

How ironic, out of all the places I have lived and worked the last place on earth I would have expected to receive racist treatment was from China!! it seems if your face doesn't fit, especially for being an English teacher it's a lot more difficult to land the job, not impossible but more difficult than usual.

 

I know and have met foreigners here who haven't even trained to be a teacher and English isn't even there native language but found English teaching jobs much easier than me, why!! because they have a European face.

 

When I first arrived here and started looking for English teaching jobs I would speak to job recruiters and schools HR department asking for a job, all would be going well, yes I'm a native speaker, yes I have experience teaching kids and adults, yes I have my CELTA, yes I am a British passport holder etc, arrange an interview and send all my details only to receive an email back saying I can't be offered a job or even be interviewed anymore because I don't look like an English teacher!!

 

I must admit it was very frustrating and it got me down at the start, it also made me very angry being an experienced, qualified, native speaking teacher who couldn't find a job. It got to the stage of when I called a school to enquire for an English teaching job I would ask straight away after introductions and formalities "I have an asian face, can I be one of your English teachers ?" at least some of the people I spoke to were honest and polite and said it wouldn't be possible because the parents of the children want to see a European looking person as their English teacher even if English isn't their native tongue.

 

However after a lot of frustration and no's, I finally got offered my first English teaching gig when I came across a chain of English teaching schools called Hampsons. I remember I was contacted after leaving my details on a job recruitment page, spoke to someone, arranged an interview and was surprised to hear after I stressed that I have an asian face that I should still go to the interview.

 

I am very grateful to Hampsons for giving me my first English teaching opportunity in China, things were slow at the start but got better and come summer time I had a packed schedule and was teaching 6-8 solid hours a day. Sometimes we would be paid late and there were some other issues but all in all it was a good start and a positive experience for me, plus the girls who would arrange my teaching hours were very helpful and friendly.

 

Then through some luck I was offered to be the corporate English teacher at Samsung, after having met one of their managers in a bar by chance. I then became the corporate English teacher for the biggest marketing agency in China and Asia, teaching their CEO and upper management after replying to a post I saw one of my friends leave on wechat (Chinas most popular social/messaging app) asking for an English teacher.

 

Luckily for me their CEO is an amazing open minded lady who offered me the job, and after a trail period she packed my week with most of her management as my students because she really liked my teaching method and style. Then a crazy thing started happening, I started having to say no to more students and hours from my students who liked me, asking me to teach their kids because I was just too busy.

 

So if you are asian and a native English speaker thinking about the big move to China, don't despair. It is possible to find an English teaching job there with some luck and perseverance. If you have any questions about this topic and my experience here I would be happy to talk to you.

 

Good luck and happy teaching.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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