IH London teaching English and teacher training in China
IH London’s CEO Steve Brent, Regional sales manager Rachel Xiao and trustee Simon Greenall recently returned from China where they found a big appetite for English language training with an emphasis on quality.
The huge demand for English language skills in China has created a challenge for education providers; they need to provide effective training to develop teachers who are able to meet this demand. The team from IH London were invited to Shanghai province to discuss and advise on the development of high quality English teaching standards in state run schools and education centres.
Big demand for English classes
The Chinese government estimates that approximately four hundred million people are currently learning English in China and the majority of these learners study with state education providers.
However, in the 20 years since trade barriers to the Chinese market were removed, private language schools from around the world have been taking steps to establish themselves in the country. As a consequence, big brand English language teaching organisations with big marketing revenues have rapidly expanded.
There are now an estimated 30,000 organisations or companies offering private English classes in China. Disney English opened its first school for 2 - 12 year olds in 2008 quickly expanded to 44 by 2011 and is now heading toward 148 schools across China. English First (EF) has 130 schools in the country and China's largest private education provider, New Oriental, has 324 learning centres and schools
English teachers from around the world
Such a rapid growth of schools and centres offering English language training has resulted in an increase in the number of English teachers required in China. Meeting this demand has proved difficult for many private organisations, the majority of them recruiting teachers from outside China on short-term contracts.
The transient nature of teachers, a local preference for native English speaking teachers regardless of qualifications and an adherence to teaching by rote has had a negative impact on many English learners and teachers in the country as the industry developed.
The need for trained teachers
But recently many schools, education centres and agencies have begun to insist that applicants for English teaching jobs in China possess a TESOL or CELTA qualification at the very least and ideally have a Bachelors or Master’s degree. Trained teachers are less likely to teach by rote and have a broader understanding of teaching methodologies and an understanding of how to apply appropriate teaching techniques for learners.
State education providers have also progressed greatly in recent years, resulting in a growing appreciation of the skills and ability of Non Native English Speaking Teachers (NNESTs). There is now an awareness that if English language learning is to be effective and sustainable in China then it will need to be delivered by local teaching professionals who are permanent or long term residents in the country.
Training local English teachers
It was this shift in emphasis that led to IH London receiving an invitation to Shanghai to talk at education conferences, run a number of workshops for teachers and observe English classes in locals schools. The IH London team were specifically asked to offer advice and guidance on teacher training and teaching methodology for non-native English speaking teachers.
IH London has an unrivalled reputation as a teacher training centre; it’s where the CELTA began. It has also provided similar consultations to governments and local education authorities around the world, most recently working as a partner with the Peruvian department of education on an ambitious project to make the country bilingual with English as its second language by 2015.
IH London’s CEO Steve Brent was keen to emphasise that the approach of his teacher trainers is a response to the needs of the teachers within any school or organisation. This means that both the language skills and the teaching skills of teachers are assessed before any training is devised to ensure its relevance to, and effectiveness for, the trainees.
As a result of this approach the IH London team in Shanghai, alongside representatives from Cambridge English, are planning to launch three versions of CELTA training for specific sectors: primary education, secondary education and adult education.
To ensure the sustainability of high quality language teaching and teacher training the IH London team also help to identify the strongest teachers in the local district and train these teachers to become master trainers. The master trainers will be able to cascade their knowledge to their colleagues as well as formally training new teachers.
The team from IH London was warmly received in Shanghai and their visit and ideas generated a lot of interest from local and national media.