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Opening my own language school... Finding Teachers

Popularity 1Viewed 2340 times 2012-9-19 14:59 |Personal category:Opening my own language school...| Teachers, Language school, Business, NanNing, GuangXi

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog, I have been busy! Sorry! I will try and find time to write more often.

Having taught in Nanning for almost 3 years, I know many teachers, so I assumed finding suitable teachers to teach at my school would be easy, but like everything else I have wrote about, it has not been as easy as I would have hoped.


99% of the time when I speak to my teacher friends, I will use Chinese, so other then a few teachers, I was not sure how good their English level actually was and it felt very strange asking my friends to do an interview or to give free classes so I could see their teaching style. In China, as you well know, friendship and the concept of “face” are very important, so questioning my friend’s English ability or worse, saying they are not good enough to work at my school, would have been quite bad, so I decided not to tap my friends as a source of teachers. Instead, we set about trying to find and hire new teachers.


We posted adverts on the internet and looked at teachers profiles and invited a number of teachers for interviews, but, I have never interviewed anyone before in my entire life, so it felt strange at first.


From my perspective, a good English teacher should have a number of qualities;

i)                    have a good command of English grammar and an ability to relay that information to students (very important in China as most English tests revolve around grammar)

ii)                   have the ability to speak English clearly

iii)                 have patience and a good classroom manner

iv)                 can adapt to different teaching environments and different students needs


so the question now is, how to test to see if a teacher meets my requirements?


Testing grammar is easy, I jumped onto the internet and downloaded a 50 question grammar test. From the test, I could get an idea of the teacher’s grammar level. I did the test myself and obviously I got 100%, but I set a benchmark of 80% for our teachers. Less then 80% would, in my opinion, mean that their command of the language is not strong enough, 80-90% would mean that they have the grammar needed to teach up to middle school level, 90-100% would mean they have the ability to teach high-school level.


As a control, I gave the test to Maria and her Sister, and set them a 20 minute time limit. Before the exam, Maria said that, though her spoken English was very poor, she was always good at English in school and thought her grammar was good, she scored 46%. Maria’s sister is a university student, as part of their course, they have to study English, so I assumed she would get a better mark, but, no, she also got 46%.


The first 2 teachers we interviewed where university students who had done some English teaching previously and were hoping to find summer jobs teaching English. The first teacher scored 76%, below what we required but her salary expectations were low, 30RMB per hour. The second teacher scored higher, 86% and also had a low salary expectation, but as I said, grammar was just one of the qualities we were looking for, so we moved to part 2.


Part 2 involved me asking the teachers basic questions about their teaching experience (using English of course). If I had to explain my questions in Chinese or they had to use Chinese to answer, obviously their spoken English was poor. As with most Chinese students, these 2 teachers had poor spoken English, but in my opinion, good enough to teach at middle school level.


Part 3 was for them to give a 10 minute class to see how they handled a classroom situation and how they dealt with students. The students for the mock class where Maria and Joy (Maria’s sister) , I sat in the back taking notes.


The teacher who scored the lowest on the grammar exam actually taught a lot better than the teacher who scored higher on the grammar exam. This left us with a predicament, which teacher to choose?


We had a student waiting to take a middle-school level English class and because that class was going to start very soon and the next set of interviews were not for another week, we had to choose one of these 2 teachers, at least as a temporary solution.


Maria thought that the teacher with the better grammar was too childish, too excitable and too unprofessional, so we agreed to give the class to the other teacher.


At this time, we did not have any other students, but we wanted to have a stock pile of possible teachers, so we continued to interview. Some teachers were good, professional, qualified, others were terrible!


One afternoon, a male teacher came for his interview and on our application form, we ask the candidate what salary they expect. Most teacher write between 30-70RMB depending on their experience and qualifications, but this teacher wrote 350RMB per hour. Yes, you read that correctly, 350RMB per hour, this is more then 3 times my own hourly salary! If I thought I could earn that much as a normal teacher, I would never in a million years open my own school!


I gave him our course price list to explain a simple point to him. Our small class courses with a Chinese teacher are, at most 25RMB per hour, which would mean we would need at least 14 students just to cover his salary. Our biggest classroom can seat about 15. I told him that our foreign teachers only earned 100RMB per hour. He said he was unaware of our schools position and adjusted his figure down, but only down to 100RMB per hour, still well above every other teacher we had interviewed.


If his expectations were so high, you would expect him to be the worlds best English teacher, but, no, he scored average on his grammar test, 92%, and he made many many mistakes during his mock lesson. It was a disgrace! I feel sorry for the children he teachers!


After every interview, we politely tell all teachers that, if they are successful and we have students, we will contact them. we told this man the same, but unlike every other teacher, this man phoned numerous times after his interview asking for lessons. So he was a bad teacher with high salary expectations and worst of all, desperate!


We interviewed enough teachers to have a strong stockpile ready incase students turned up. We have teachers who are able to teach at all levels and teachers from all different backgrounds. We are confident that our level of teaching will be of a high standard.

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




Shake hands

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Reply Report dadandmum 2012-9-20 17:52
doing well after a short time keep going

facelist doodle Doodle board

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My name is Daniel, I am 27 and I come from The UK. I have been in China since September 2009.


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