Non-native speaker in China

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Non-native speaker in China

Unread postby Katja84 » 06 May 2007, 18:32

Hi everyone!

I've been looking for TESOL jobs in China but practically all ads ask for native speakers. What are the possibilities for non-native speakers to get teaching jobs in China, and who do we turn to? I am looking for a place in a public school, preferably a university or possibly a gaozhong. I have a year's worth of teaching experience from China, but this was a voluntary placement, and I have had basic TEFL training (1/4th of my degree this year, but it doesn't lead to an actual qualification). I will have a university degree from the UK at the time of applying.

Is it worth applying for posts that say 'native speakers only' or should I try to contact schools directly? Do you know of any reliable agencies that accept non-native speakers of English?

Any advice is much appreciated!

Katja
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Unread postby Comenius » 07 May 2007, 02:22

I think I might be inclined to just apply for the jobs and see where it gets you. Most schools have a pretty hard time filling all of their native teacher openings, and if you look professional I'd be willing to bet you have a good chance of getting hired.

Good luck! :)
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 07 May 2007, 07:49

How strong is your accent Katja?
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Unread postby Katja84 » 08 May 2007, 22:55

Comenius: Thanks, that was what I was hoping to hear :) In any case the regions I would most like to teach in are those that most native-speaking Westerners wouldn't really fight for anyhow so hopefully that will increase my chances!

Peter Easton: I reckon my accent won't make much of a difference as my employers would probably not hear much of it before I actually arrived in China. My pronunciation is rarely a problem, but I'm unlikely to get away with being English for more than a few minutes before people begin to wonder where I'm from, if that answers your question.
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 09 May 2007, 09:39

Well,

a) you could have situation where the students are correcting you in the class, that leads to complaints and ultimately, firings.

b) if your accent is too strong the students won’t understand and they’ll start speaking with your accent which again, could get you fired.

Sorry to be blunt about it but that’s how it is.

On the plus side though, if your accent is fairly neutral, finding work will be no problem at all.
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Unread postby Katja84 » 09 May 2007, 10:50

Peter Easton wrote:On the plus side though, if your accent is fairly neutral, finding work will be no problem at all.


I wish that was the case but, as mentioned, most employers will not have many opportunities to hear my accent before I arrive in China. Which, assuming a) and b) above, means a Scot with a heavy accent would have considerably better chances of employment than a non-native speaker with a neutral accent, simply because of his UK passport. It makes sense, but it does present difficulties for the non-native speaker in finding employment.
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 09 May 2007, 10:55

Katja, most employers will give you a telephone interview. I am an employer in China and I never hire a person without interviewing them.

a Scot with a heavy accent would have considerably better chances of employment than a non-native speaker with a neutral accent, simply because of his UK passport.


Not true. A Scot would more likely get a job than you because he is a native speaker and a Scottish accent is a standard and authentic accent in English.
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Unread postby Katja84 » 09 May 2007, 12:46

Peter Easton wrote:Katja, most employers will give you a telephone interview. I am an employer in China and I never hire a person without interviewing them.


Oh, that's good to hear :D

Peter Easton wrote: Not true. A Scot would more likely get a job than you because he is a native speaker and a Scottish accent is a standard and authentic accent in English.


Granted. At the same time, (considering point b) a Scottish accent may be more difficult to understand for a Chinese student than a more neutral accent - whoever speaks it. If students do manage to pick it up, moreover, a Chinese-Scottish accent may be more difficult for others to understand than a Chinese-neutral one.

As for point a), I do approve of teachers with unusual accents, because it does present students with an example of the diversity of the English language. At the same time, if students are going to "correct" their teacher, their only means of doing so would be to compare the accent of the teacher to the pronunciation guide given in a dictionary (on what other basis could correction be made?), and the accent of a non-native speaker may in certain circumstances more closely resemble RP or whichever pronunciation is given in a dictionary, than would the accent of a Scot.

I do see why employers would prefer a native speaker over a non-native speaker - if for no other reason than that students do - but as some non-native speakers have excellent accents, it is a shame that the nationality on their passport (many ads ask specifically for teachers from the UK, the US, Australia or New Zeeland) will still determine their chances of finding employment.

But this is going off topic :D
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Unread postby Peter Easton » 10 May 2007, 02:34

Fair enough Katja, your written English is certainly good enough. You just have to hope they don’t pick up on your accent in the interview.
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