Teaching Mandarin & Japanese in Europe

Please allow me to make an apology first.

Obviously my “subject” does not seem to fit in this category either… and im pretty troubled atm.

Coz I do not know where an appropriate category is for my subject… and I really need some kind help out, since I have tried to locate a similar site of this in Japanese and English.

As for anyone else here apart from me, you all seem to come teaching English here in Taiwan.
And I m kinda the opposite, I am planning to go teaching both Mandarin and Japanese in Portual, Spain, maybe Scotland, Poland, and Finland. or even Germany.

*Apparently, I m neither a foreign expet nor an English teacher. lol
But, I have been reading, absorbing information, views, ideas, thoughts from this website since I reaached here by chance. My favorite is “Living in Taiwan”. lol Infact, can’t agree more with most of treads been posted there. *The only motive determined me to post this tread here is becoz i m so trapped atm. I can’t find the info that i may need. And I thought of here, coz most of you here are from overseas, and maybe more than half of you are here in Taiwan teaching English or some other languages. Am i right? :stuck_out_tongue:

Here my quesitons are:
Does anyone here know if there is a website like this Formosa talking about how foreign expets are getting on with their life in those countries named above? If possible, could someone please kinda rediect me where this post should have been? I will surely delete this one, and re-post in the correct place. Thank you in advance.

I don’t think there’s any problem posting your query here…except perhaps getting an answer, because as you point out, many people who read this board may not really know the answer.

I don’t know it either – but I would comment, based on experience in the United States (different from Europe, of course, but some of it may apply) that it is extremely difficult to get a position as a teacher of Chinese here inthe States if you are not a native speaker of Chinese. There is still the perception that (while everyone agrees you don’t need to be a native speaker of English to teach many English courses) one must be a native speaker of Chinese to “be able” to teach Chinese. The other reason one hears frequently is, “Our students want Chinese teachers, not ‘foreign’ teachers.” (There are a variety of other threads on the board discussing these ideas; I won’t belabor them here.)

I don’t know if the same ideas apply to Japanese teaching, but given my experiences I’m willing to bet that there are. FYI this is not just my personal experience; it also comes from discussions with other “whities” with a very advanced level of Chinese, years of overseas residence and professional experience in translation and interpreting, etc. Still the same – no joy with Chinese teaching jobs. I actually felt better after speaking with some of these people – I used to think it was just me.

You haven’t in fact established whether j5 is a native speaker or not. Are you Taiwanese j5?

Just some ideas off the top of my head…

A couple of links that might help as regards living in other countries: www.spainexpat.com
You might also like to check out the various guide books (and their sites on the web) such as Rough Guide, Lonely Planet etc

They’ll not help with job finding for Chinese teaching of course so if you haven’t thought of it already I suggest you get in touch with universities and language schools (e.g. Berlitz though I’ve heard they’re not great employers but you must start somewhere) in other countries and find out the lay of the land.

One country I’ve heard of in particular in which people are taking a greater interest in Oriental languages is Australia, so I’ve heard, so it might be worth concentrating your efforts there first. Another thing you might do is find out areas in various countries that have strong trade links with China/Japan and which might be interested in learning the appropriate tongues. Good luck

A few months back I saw a segment on the Taiwan TV news about a school in the south of England that was offering Mandarin Chinese as one of its languages. High-school age posh kids so probably private (ie. you pay fees) school. But the Mandarin teacher was a white woman with a fabulous roll of her retroflexive r and the kids had amazing tones, according to the newsreader. And you could tell by her wide eyes that the newsreader thought it was even more amazing than a cat suckling piglets, which had been the day before’s segment, or something. :wink:

You’d have to be a teacher with British QTS to do that, no?

I doubt the piglets really mind as long as they are fed!

But as for teaching, I should think you’re right – though my French, German and Spanish teachers in England were all native speakers so I suppose a Chinese native native speaker would have to do the same British QTS as they in order to teach in a British school. I presume it would be even easier for, say, a Brit who has a TEFL but speaks fluent Chinese to go back and get into. Maybe just a year’s post-grad QT?

Edit: Here ya go! soas.ac.uk/languagecentre/ch … teach.html

English or Chinese mother tongue

I know in the USA non native speakers of Chinese teach Mandarin. Both in high schools and in college. Usually the in college it is a grad student in Chinese language department leading the TA sections, usually not Chinese. The head of the course is usually Chinese, but here’s the weird thing, they aren’t Chinese majors. They are usually international grad students studying in the USA, like journalism, philosophy, etc. I guess that’s how they pay their tuition.


If you’re interested in opportunities teaching Chinese and Japanese overseas, you may find it more fruitful to search the Chinese- and Japanese-language web and discussion boards rather than the English web and discussion boards.

For example, a quick Google search in Chinese turned up the following website with discussion relevant to your interests:


Thanks so much, everyone!!!
Thanks for so many great inputs!!! (memoing… note-taking)^^
Yes, j5 is native in Mandarin & Japanese, but i wonder what this
“native” really refers to and how much it means and “qualify” one’s
language teaching ability. I m not trying to be ironical or something,
I am just unsure about how well my mother tongue has been exercised since I have no particular qualification or cirtificate in Mandarin, but Marketing. haha

Is any of you have replied here current a language teacher? If so, are you teaching your native language? If still so, are you asked to provide any educational qualification or cirtificate to demonstarte your proficiency in your mother tongue?

grateful j5, thanks again for all the feedback.

I taught Chinese evening classes and other part-time courses for eight years at the University of Westminster and the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding. At the latter, I taught mostly on my own. At the former, students generally had two classes a week, one with a native Chinese speaker and one a non-native speaker who had the experience of learning Chinese as a foreign language (I belong to the latter category). This is a good system because the native and non-native speakers compensate for each other’s weaknesses.

If you are a non-native speaker, it is pretty important to have good pronunciation, especially the tones. If you are a native speaker, it is essential to know Hanyu pinyin and simplified characters. Among native Chinese speakers, schools are likely to prefer those who can speak northern-style Mandarin, distinguishing the retroflexive and non-retroflexive consonants (zh, ch, sh, r versus z, c, s).

I taught from beginners up to A-level (senior high school graduation). I think I did a good job, as reflected by a high number of students keeping up their classes and signing on for more courses.

I guess Chinese learning is becoming more popular now so demand for teachers must be growing. If confronted by lack of confidence in a non-native speaker, I would rely on my word-of-mouth reputation for a high degree of fluency and near-native standard Chinese pronunciation.

Writing is my weak point, but beginning to intermediate students want to learn to speak first and foremost, and those who learn Chinese writing (some do pinyin only) learn it mostly from their textbooks.

Sure, you can get part-time teaching opportunities. I’m talking about getting a lucrative full-time job with benefits – the kind of teaching job that allows you to have a teaching career, rather than hoping to have your contract renewed at the end of the year. For those jobs, it’s very difficult if you are not ethnically (linguistically?) Chinese. Non-natives are welcome to teach continuing education, adult ed courses, enrichment, and (in the States) sometimes even high school, provided they have certification (usually in a different subject area to begin with, although New York State now offers certification specifically in Mandarin Chinese for a foreign languages endorsement.)

When I was in grad school, I was majoring in teaching Chinese as a foreign language, yet I could not get a teaching position. They were all filled by Chinese students majoring in Comparative Literature who had not a clue about Romanization, tones, phonetics, grammar, or anything else. I’m not saying there are not some CompLit majors who take to teaching Chinese very well – just as there are some English teachers in Taiwan who, without any meaningful training, manage to teach fairly well. But for an institute that is supposedly training someone to be a teacher, and which knew perfectly well who had a background in Linguistics, language teaching theory and other useful bits of trivia, the decision seemed particularly short-sighted. (I may add that that university’s Chinese program is not exactly world-renowned…)

As for the OP being a native speaker – yes, there are folks who are “double-As” – truly native in two languages – but they are few and far between. The OP himself seems to have some doubt about how native his Japanese and Chinese are at this point in time. Fortunately, it shouldn’t be that difficult to “fake” the difference between highly skilled user and native speaker to get a job, since the odds of one being interviewed by not one but two people truly native in those languages is low! (We used to joke that one particular professor at a major university had been hired by saying to the Chinese interviewer, “Oh, my Japanese is much better than my Chinese” and then reversing the idea to the Japanese interviewer…) As long as the OP looks the part, and speaks fluently and can use “normal” language (i.e., isn’t parked in childhood usage for one of the languages, which can happen if you emigrate and “lose” your first language early in life) he should be okay, provided he has whatever other credentials are wanted these days for teaching jobs.

I wonder if that is really the usual case. At my university at least, all of the TAs were native Chinese speakers, as were the professors, who were required to have at least a master’s degree in Chinese. Most had Ph.Ds.

TAs and grad student instructors are not required to have any particular graduate degree. Most graduate student instructors or TAs in Chinese in my experience (first-hand and anecdotal alike) are native speakers but have no particularly relevant background in the Chinese language, except perhaps (perhaps!) having majored in Chinese literature, which is not terribly relevant to teaching anything below the advanced levels.

Professors or lecturers in Chinese (in the US) need to have a graduate degree, but more and more positions are being farmed out as “visiting lecturers” and filled with – once more – well-meaning native speakers from a different background. These are not tenure-track positions, but I know of universities which have a more or less permanent “temporary” position of this sort, effectively blocking anyone who needed benefits, tenure, and other expensive items usually given to professors. Since there are few programs in teaching Chinese as a second language at the graduate level, you can imagine how few of these teachers have any background in it. Some might have EFL qualifications which (depending on the imagination of the individual) might be helpful. But I know a LOT of comp lit grads who took jobs teaching Chinese. A lot.

Ironlady and all other ppl who have posted here.
Thanks for the precious advice, knowledge and practical experience sharing, obviously I am very new to this field, even I have been doing some language exchange (sometimes Japanese/English, sometimes Mandarin/English, sometimes Mandarin/Spanish), and been teaching Japanese as a private tutor more than 2 years by now. But, all the qualifications Ive got so far are Bachelor in Marketing, and Diploma in Graphic Design. They are nothing relevant to languages. I am right now thinking to apply a course named Master of Lingustic, even ppl say to be an eligible applicant, I must have had some teaching experience, my friends are still encouraging to speak to the course coordinator directly to see if there is any chance to get in without meeting its entry requirments. I am wonder if any of you would have a different suggestion other than that Master of Linguistics course title. Coz I am doing all this course research all by myself, I can’t reconfirm if that is the course which leads me to a teaching career in future.

As any of you who have or had worked in a similar field, what are /were the qualifications your co-workers’ have/had? What are/were their education background as a Mandarin teacher? I know a lot of you here maybe are here to teach English. Even so, do you co-workers who here to teach English mostly have a teaching qualification? or they are simply native speakers with other educational background other than English major. Becoz I remember when I lived in Tokyo, ever heard some native English teachers with a proper teaching cirtificate or qualificiation complianed that there were relatively large quantity of English teachers were not from an English major. And didn’t have such English teaching qualifications.

So, I seem to be confused, if in this field, a native speaker with some practical teaching experience is far more important than having a qualification as the employer is deciding whom to assign this job to?

Apart from above concerns, I also concern how I can start a teaching career if I do no have a relevant educational background.

The two issues (English teachers in Taiwan or Japan and teachers of Mandarin/Japanese abroad) are totally different because of differences in the market.

In Taiwan, the idea is to get a white face up in front of your English class. That’s what sells seats and gets parents to sign kids up (and gets adults to sign up for adult classes, too.) But that’s because there are literally thousands and thousands of people who are actively learning (or trying to learn) English in Taiwan. There simply weren’t (still aren’t, but the gap is slowly closing) enough people with the barest of qualifications – being able to speak the language – available to teach all those classes.

In the US (I’ll speak to the country I know), there are relatively fewer Mandarin and Japanese classes. While these programs are growing, they are not growing that fast, and the percentage of all students who take Chinese or Japanese is tiny. You hardly ever find an adult who just decides to learn Chinese to, say, improve his career. So there are far fewer opportunities to teach.

For the informal classes, then, you can still get by with little or no formal qualifications – just being able to speak the language to some extent is probably still good enough. That means one hour here, two hours there, nothing more. I can’t imagine anyone living in a place where there were enough of this kind of classes to make a living from. Pay for informal classes is generally low; it’s usually something people do for the fun of it, or because they hope to eventually painfully develop enough “connections” to be considered for a real full-time tenured job, assuming they have the qualifications to do it.

In the US, some ads for university-level Chinese teaching jobs may ask only for an MA, but that’s the ad. You need to know that those who apply for the jobs almost all have Ph.Ds (although not in Chinese teaching) or are ABD (all but dissertation) waiting to complete their Ph.Ds. I would be very surprised to hear of a person with nothing more than an MA taking a permanent tenure track job at a university. They may hire an MA for a temporary appointment or a “visiting” lecturer spot (maybe) but even for these fairly undesirable (in terms of permanent prospects) jobs, these days they usually get 10 to 20 applications from people with Ph.Ds. As a white girl with a Ph.D in teaching Chinese, I’d prefer that the applicant with an actual degree relevant to the job be considered first, but that doesn’t seem to happen. The jobs go to Chinese people with “a” Ph.D. (usually not in teaching; almost never in teaching, sometimes in linguistics, usually in Comparative Literature) in preference to non-native speakers, regardless of level and credentials.

So, although you don’t face the non-native speaker barrier, without a Ph.D. I can’t be very hopeful for you even if you get an MA in Linguistics, I’m afraid. Lots of opportunities to teach Chinese or Japanese informally (exchanges, night school, extension, adult ed, Boy Scouts, whatever) but relatively few “real” jobs open to those without a Ph.D. (and, I might add, publications and teaching experience – it’s getting more and more difficult to get a job with a Ph.D. and assuming you don’t mind relocating at your own expense.)

It might not fit your personality or your goals, but you could consider doing an MBA or a law degree – either of those, plus native Chinese and Japanese and good English, would put you in an enviable position. Relying only on Chinese to make a living is risky. I’ve managed to do it for 20 years but I consider myself extremely lucky to have been able to do so, and it’s been more through translation and interpreting than teaching.

Sorry for the cold water. Your mileage may vary but at least in the US, I doubt it.

Sage advice posted by Ironlady. I’ve known or known of a few Taiwanese or mainlanders who managed to get themselves one or two year contract jobs in the US that allowed them to start working on PhDs in applied linguistics or in education with a focus on language education. I think all of them had MAs in TCFL from places like NTU or Beijing Language and Cultural University, which seem to be the only places that offer programs that approach what one might call rigorous.

When I was doing my BA in the US, my university was looking to fill a tenure track position in Chinese. The position had been left open due to the previous tenured guy having to leave on short notice. The teaching load was being covered by two DEd students from the PRC. They were complete flakes.

So anyway, they had half a dozen or so applicants teach our class for an hour each. All but one of them were “native speakers” according to the university. I use quotation marks because one of them was from Hong Kong and spoke PTH with, no, he didn’t really even speak Putonghua. Nobody, including the two DEd students, could understand what he was saying in class. He had a PhD from Columbia in, surprise, Complit, though. Then there was a guy who had an MA from BLCU and a PhD from a state university in the US. Of all the applicants, he was the closest to being a decent teacher. He had a long list of publications in mainland journals on TCFL. Granted, much of what’s in mainland journals is crap, but he was the only guy among the applicants who had actually published in TCFL. The university didn’t count any of these publications because they weren’t in English. There was also a whitey who had done an MA and PhD at BLCU. He couldn’t teach and actually had the hardest time of all in establishing any sort of rapport with our class. He seemed sort of schizo, actually. I think he had spent so much time in China that he just couldn’t interact with people in the US anymore. So the university chose the guy from HK because he had published a couple of articles in A-list complit journals. Whoopty-fucking-do.

I can understand, though I don’t agree with US universities’ obsession with hiring native speakers, but I just don’t get this insistance on hiring people with PhDs in literature this or that. It really seems like most universities are only interested in native speakers who have published articles on literature, not on language teaching, applied linguistics or even traditional linguistics. Is this how it works in the UK or other English speaking countries?

I would like to know how it works in the UK or other English speaking countires, and non-English speaking countries in Europe region, e.g. Germany, Spain, Portual, Poland, Finland, Sweden, and Switzerland and such.

Perhaps, where to get this kinda raw data from residentants of Europe region.

P.S. >Ironland, I appreciate all the precious advice and vailable information you have shared here. Its real generous of you, and now I am gaining some more ideas to form the picture/vision of my future study? career? plan. Thx.

Having read through this thread I have a question…

I what most of you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt it isn’t, as the likes of Ironlady have long standing solid reputations), why would a non-Chinese person bother with studying Chinese, and even Chinese Lit. at a post graduate level? It seems that apart from translating (and even that seems to be a risky gamble) there isn’t much a non-native can do with it. Am I wrong in this assumption?

It seems to me, that getting a basic grounding (and perhaps improving on your language skills in Chinese) as an addition to your major (be it law, business or something else) is basically all that a non-native can do with Chinese to any degree of professional success.
Unless, of course, you pursue post-graduate studies purely for pleasure.

I wish to do a MA (Chinese Lit.) sometime in the near future, but my motivation is for personal enrichment (and perhaps as an addition to my professional career). And it seems that’s about all that we (non-natives) can do with it.

Have I misunderstood the posts, or am I basically correct?

[quote=“bismarck”]Having read through this thread I have a question…

I what most of you say is true (and I have no reason to doubt it isn’t, as the likes of Ironlady have long standing solid reputations), why would a non-Chinese person bother with studying Chinese, and even Chinese Lit. at a post graduate level? [/quote]
Some people do it with the goal of doing spooky type work for a government agency. The problem with that, though, is that if you acquire some of the ties to the target language and culture that often correlate with high language proficiency (i.e., property in the country and especially, a foreign spouse), you then become difficult for some government agencies to hire.