Foreign teachers and sports coaches for children will be in high demand in Shanghai, China this summer.
With summer school holidays approaching, parents are reportedly enrolling their children in various classes for academic and non-academic extracurricular activities as long as they are to be instructed by foreigners. However, commentators warned the teaching quality may be questionable as some of the “teachers” could be international students or tourists.
A report in the China Youth Daily forecast that the market for foreign teachers or coaches would be very keen this summer. Market rates for various services such as one-on-one private English classes cost about 150 yuan for 25 minutes in a live video session or about 500 yuan for face-to-face teaching.
A five-day education summer camp led by a foreign teacher and a Chinese assistant costs 6,500 yuan, excluding fees for accommodation or transportation.
Sports coaches don’t come cheap also. Two football coaches consisting of a foreigner and a Chinese assistant cost about 300 yuan per hour. A foreign tennis coach could charge between 300 yuan and 1,200 yuan per hour. A one-hour basketball lesson is about 200 to 400 yuan and rugby lessons cost around 350 to 550 yuan per hour.
According to statistics from the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA), 215,000 foreigners were working in Shanghai, the highest percentage in mainland China. They were mostly company executives, high-end technical personnel, university employees or foreign teachers at international schools.
“Even if all the foreigners in Shanghai are coming out as summer teachers, they may not be able to meet the needs of parents in Shanghai,” said Gong Bo, a football expert and a doctoral advisor for the Shanghai University of Sport.
Due to a lack of management, foreign teachers or coaches vary dramatically in quality and many do not have the qualifications to work in China, Gong added.
At a large sports stadium in Shanghai, there are foreign faces in every corner, teaching basketball, tennis, football, rugby or ice hockey. Basketball coaches are usually from the United States, while tennis coaches tend to be French and ice hockey coaches mostly come from Russia.
Whether the teachers are amateurs or professional, it does not bother Shanghainese parents.
It is difficult to identify the true professional football coaches, be they Chinese or foreign, so hiring foreign teachers could at least motivate children to communicate in English, said a man with a child in kindergarten.
Ray, a Spanish international university student in Shanghai, spends two days a week teaching English at a language institution in Shanghai city center and during the summer vacation, he teaches full days every day.
“Chinese parents are very friendly. They know that I am an international student but they are not too concerned over my qualifications,” Ray said.
While the Chinese teaching philosophy is “score-driven,” the western method stresses more on cultivating learners’ interests, explained Gong, adding that it could be the reason why parents prefer foreign coaches for their children’s extracurricular classes.
However, it could be dangerous to hire foreign nationals without work permits. For instance, if an accident happens, or the instructor violates laws, parents have little chance to protect their children under the law.
A mother told the media that her son had been studying in an English institution in Shanghai, but for the past two years her son witnessed more than four teachers’ departure.