Before I came to teach in China, i’d heard many things about how highly respected teachers are in China, and how good the students are and so on. The truth about being a foreign teacher in China is that whole idea of being an actual teacher is a facade, your REAL duty is to make lots of jokes and act silly so the students can laugh at the funny foreigner. You need to be an entertainer, not an educator. It’s called Edutainment! The ideal foreign teacher (in their eyes) has white skin and is very funny; a white monkey! The REAL teaching is left to the Chinese teachers who are able to communicate with the students in their own language. The foreign teacher is mainly just for marketing purposes.
So why this attitude towards foreign teachers in China? Well, it’s related to the perception that the Chinese have of foreigners and the western education system. They believe that in western countries, school is so much fun and that teachers always play games with the students (yes, even at COLLEGE level). So they go into the foreign teachers class EXPECTING fun and games, and if they don’t get that they are disappointed, and as far as the school is concerned, disappointed students = BAD FOR BUSINESS. You see education in China has become highly commercialized over the past decade or so and it’s quite competitive business. The “student” is regarded as the customer, and the “teacher” is said to be providing a service. No, I am not joking. I’ve even heard high-school officials talking about keeping the “customers” happy; referring to the 15 year old highschoolers! So in summary, your success as a foreign teacher in China will more or less come down to how good you are at entertaining the students. To learn more, check out my article about teaching in private training centers