Open Letter to Liang Pu Jian and Zhang Lei:
You need to fire Arthur the English Education Director and Karl the Foreign Affairs Officer. They are destroying the English program and damaging the reputation of Pei Zheng College.
-- They have divided Chinese against foreigner, administrator against teacher, teacher against teacher. No organization divided against itself can survive. Everyone should work together toward the same goal. The goal is improve the English skills of the students. If that goal is achieved, everybody wins.
-- Instead of hiring good foreign teachers who don’t need much supervision, they assign a young, inexperienced office worker named Lyn to recruit, then they threaten whoever arrives with the severest punishment for the smallest offenses.
-- They do not provide seminars, workshops, lectures, and forums for the foreign teachers to keeps their skills fresh.
-- They do not promote English Corner. At a private college where I taught a few years ago, one third of an entire floor of the English teaching building was reserved for English Corner with a café atmosphere, computers, private rooms, and volunteer workers. From 3 p.m. until 7 p.m. every day, English Corner was crowded. But at Pei Zheng College, there is no special space for English Corner and only about half a dozen students talk to each teacher for an hour and a half.
-- They assign foreign teachers to the art majors. The English skill level and attitude toward English lessons among the art students is so low, this is an enormous waste of foreign resources. Art students should be taught by Chinese teachers who specialize in beginner classes.
-- A popular technique among the students is for the teacher to write a topic on the blackboard, then have the students arrange their chairs in circles and express themselves to each other on the topic. This creates a lively and enjoyable classroom environment, but it means the students chat in Chinese for 30 or 40 minutes. They are practicing Chinese instead of improving English. It’s an English Corner session, not an academic lesson. A teacher’s role is not to just monitor student activity, but to interact with them and address their needs. But if teachers face a choice between providing a useful lesson and making the students happy, Arthur and Karl prefer the foreign teachers just make the students happy.
-- Foreign teachers are required to test every student several times each semester. Because the classes are too big to test every student in one week, each exam takes two weeks. Then the students go through the same process again with a different foreign teacher the next semester. If a student takes 4 semesters of spoken English, that’s an awful lot of time that should be spent learning new curriculum instead of being repeatedly evaluated. Again, this is an enormous waste of foreign resources.
-- Learning a language is an integrated process. It should involve integrated skills, integrated methods, and integrated tools. But they prefer foreign teachers rely solely on verbal instruction and maybe a blackboard or textbook - no audio or visual equipment, no handouts, etc.
-- Immediately after Max Long was promoted from teacher to supervisor, it was obvious he was grossly unsuitable for a management position. As a result of Max’s behavior, the school lost many good teachers and there were many negative comments on the Internet. There was also a scandalous video of Max completely losing his temper, acting wild, and yelling at foreign teachers. But Arthur and Karl refused to intervene no matter how much damage Max did.
-- They give the foreign supervisors piles of paperwork and many lessons instead of allowing them to mentor teachers, develop curriculum, and plan training. When Bob Ellis left, 22 foreign teachers - one fourth of the foreign population - applied for his job. When Max Long left, only two foreign teachers applied for his job because it has become such an undesirable position. Now Program B doesn’t even have a foreign supervisor.
-- They have canceled monthly staff meetings. Monthly staff meetings are a way for the foreign supervisors to stay in communication with the foreign teachers and maintain high morale among the foreign staff. Meetings give the supervisor an opportunity to answer questions and give the staff a sense of belonging.
-- They are hostile toward the Magick Café and Lulu’s Cantina. Both are Chinese owned. Foreign teachers help manage part time to ensure the dishes are authentic western food. These restaurants are great cultural exchange opportunities.
There are many private colleges all over China that employee a lot of foreign teachers but don’t suffer from constant turmoil and hostility. Why do these other private colleges not have the type of problems Pei Zheng College is having? The answer is simple: Arthur and Karl are in positions of authority, therefore they are responsible. They are in control of the foreign teacher situation, so they cannot blame anyone else.