Problems & solutions in communicative language teaching in mainland China

An interesting article with an optimistic conclusion.

Some of the problems seem similar to those faced by EFL teachers in Taiwan. I wonder whether whether the author’s optimism would be justified here?

I think English teaching in China will largely be left to the private sector. This will mean curriculums designed with the purpose of maximizing profit for the school. Inexpensive, volunteer teachers from abroad will be recruited to teach a curriculum designed by Chinese academics. Very similar to what is proposed for Taiwan.

What is needed is the recruitment of experienced and expensive teachers with experience in Asia to design and implement a curriculum, and for them to the train local state schoolteachers. These teacher trainers would need to derive their authority from the highest level of the State apparatus, lest their attempts be frustrated by the bureaucratic machine. Unfortunately this will not happen as it will not result in a huge profit for well-connected Chinese businessmen. Very similar to Taiwan.

It could work both ways though. A reputable firm with a good track record such as International House could lease state-owned buildings near or in schools, in return for the provision of language instruction. They would then be free to charge private students at a market rate for lessons in these buildings in the evenings. Or something. That is a much more expensive and less profitable for the Chinese way of doing it, and I cannot see it happening.

The huge profits made by buxiban owners in Taiwan during the “good old days” have not gone unnoticed. The Chinese are eagerly anticipating their turn. The difference with China is that there is a queue of foreigners a mile long who would cut off their right arms for “the China Experience, man” whereas in Taiwan they had to pay them. Watch this space.