White People with No Skill Sets Wanted in China

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    White People with No Skill Sets Wanted in China

    If you’re a white English speaker, you can get a job teaching private English classes in China. Many schools will hire you without any prior experience, teaching credentials, or a working visa. Sometimes you don’t even need to apply for the job. In Urumqi, in China’s northwest, my writing partner and I were offered our first teaching gig at a roadside noodle stand. We had been in the country less than a week.

    The offer was the first of many we would refuse during the two and a half months we traveled around China—we recieved unsolicited offers on the street four more times, and nearly every time we visited a school. In the private tutoring industry, which is growing at almost 15 percent a year, private language academies are looking for pale faces like ours to meet the booming demand for foreign English teachers.

    But the industry’s rapid growth is creating a new leisure class of young foreigners who are often unqualified for their teaching jobs. In addition to the roughly 180,000 “foreign experts” who enter China on working visas each year to work in education, there are many more who come to work on tourist or university visas. Of the dozens of English teachers we talked to for this story, only two had official work visas, and little more than half had any kind of teaching experience or certification.


    How come the best and brightest in Asia go to the West and badly mistreated, while the untalented, unqualified, undesirable from the West not only find acceptance in Asia, but are actively sought?

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