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December 21, 2013

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Home » Metro » Education

Chinese shy away from teaching abroad

DESPITE the huge demand globally for learning Chinese, the number of teachers willing to take up assignments abroad is alarmingly low.

“This is mainly because students, especially female students, want to stay close to their family and their brief overseas internship experience can get them good jobs in China itself,” said Xu Xiaona, an official with Shanghai’s East China Normal University.

According to People’s Daily, there are about 150 million people abroad keen to learn Mandarin, but despite the huge interest there is a shortage of 5 million Chinese teachers.

At East China Normal University, about half of the Chinese-language students go overseas for internships but only 10 percent take up teaching jobs abroad after graduation.

In the past years, many students were attracted to the idea of teaching the language to the foreigners, counting it as an experience of working abroad.  Very few actually went abroad to teach Chinese, instead many of them were hired by local schools and language institutions.

Teachers from other universities also confirmed that more and more Chinese teachers wanted to be in China rather than teach abroad.

At a seminar in Shanghai yesterday, officials from Hanban, an education ministry-backed institute that provides Chinese language teaching services, said Chinese students doing masters in the language might be required to do overseas internships in the future to improve their teaching skills.

The masters program, which is run in 83 universities across China, is intended to cultivate Chinese teaching for foreigners. About 20,000 students were admitted to the program since September.

Yang Jincheng, a Hanban director, said overseas internships can help students gain hands-on teaching experiences in a foreign environment while promoting Mandarin programs worldwide. Yang asked universities to encourage students to attend the volunteer programs to teach Chinese at Confucius Institutes abroad.

Xu said the students were the most sought after by local primary and middle schools to teach Chinese and English. Some were hired by international schools with high salaries.


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