China to add Philippines to list of English-speaking countries and lower qualification threshold for country’s teachers

Sixto Julio Piso, Filipino English teacher gives a course at Beanstalk International School. Photo: Courtesy of Sixto Julio Piso

When Filipino Sixto Julio Piso, 33, who works as an English, music and art teacher at Beanstalk International School in Beijing, learned that restrictions on foreign English teachers in the Philippines could be relaxed by China, he was very happy.

“I saw on social media that the Chinese government was considering adding the Philippines to the list of English speaking countries for English teachers,” Piso said. “If that comes to pass, it is very good news for us.”

During the recent visit of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to China, the two sides signed numerous agreements to improve bilateral relations between China and the Philippines.

A staff member from the State Administration of Foreign Expert Affairs (SAFEA), who prefers to remain anonymous, told Metropolitan they are considering lowering the threshold for Filipino teachers, but the date of implementation policy implementation has not yet been determined.

Filipino teachers and schools surveyed by Metropolitan already welcome this possibility, although parents may have a different opinion.

Before coming to China in 2015, Piso taught English in the Philippines for 10 years. He said that many Filipino teachers are graduates and certified teachers in their countries, but because of their “non-English speaking” status in China, they are often rejected by a school or training center.

Noli Castillano Apachicha, 38, is another Filipino teacher. He has been teaching in Beijing for nine years and currently works at RISE English, a language training school. He recalled that there had been instances where he was not considered for a job due to his background and the color of his skin.

“Some parents are very demanding of the locals and we don’t have the opportunity to show our teaching skills. But after we have had the chance to teach, some Chinese parents realize that Filipino teachers are also good,” Apachicha said.

He believes that compared to other non-natives, Filipinos are more culturally diverse individuals, and many of them speak English with an American accent, which is preferred by many Chinese parents.

“Young Filipinos have a strong American background, and they can easily achieve an American accent without too much difficulty speaking. They are born to be good speakers,” he said.

Christopher Lipinski, an American and director of Joystar International Kindergarten, hailed SAFEA’s decision as a step in the right direction.

He said opening doors for teachers from the Philippines gives schools a better chance to find quality teachers who love their profession.

“While I understand that imposing nationality requirements on teachers of English is intended to provide China with teachers with the appropriate accents, there are many other factors that determine whether or not someone is a good teacher,” Lipinski said. .

He said that other qualities, such as patience and respect for students, are also attributes of a good teacher. “[These qualities] are much more difficult to measure, but I am convinced that over time SAFEA will use more nuanced means to improve the quality of teachers in China. “

Despite the possible loosening of the laws, the mother of an international kindergarten girl named Wang still prefers English-speaking Western teachers for her daughter.

“Besides the standard accents, Western teachers have a better understanding of Western culture and experiences,” Wang said. “But if the school highly recommends a qualified, experienced, non-native English teacher, say from the Philippines, and my daughter likes her very much, I will consider it.”

Lipinski hopes Chinese parents can become more tolerant of non-native English teachers. He said that during his four-year career as an educator in China, he had met good teachers with standard English accents from non-native countries, which he said should not be banned from teaching. simply because of their nationality.

“While there may be a first setback against teachers in the Philippines, I think parents can quickly realize who is a good teacher once their children have spent time in class,” Lipinski said.
Journal Title: Becoming Native


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