100,000+  jobs in China
China’s crackdown on online ESL schools - Beginning of the end?
Author: EnglishTeacher    2021-08-05


I’m an online ESL teacher in the process of becoming a primary teacher. I also study law and wish to pursue a PHD in access to education worldwide in the future. Access to education is important. It can contribute towards relieving poverty, give equal opportunities to learners and break barriers.

I’ve been fortunate to teach students online for four years. I love it as much as I despise some of the companies that I work for. There’s nothing better than witnessing the miraculous change when a student follows the correct grammar rules effortlessly after you’ve helped them. The learning capacity of children astonishes me.

Unfortunately, it’s clear to see that the majority of my students are overworked. Online schools make huge profits. And this is why China have started to make changes in online teaching regulations for schools that teach the curriculum.


The rules are currently unclear. However, the Chinese government is making steps towards banning foreign language teachers both in the country and online. They are also doing the following -

·Clamping down on foreign investment in language schools.

·Making private schools register as non profits.

·Cutting language lessons to 30 minutes maximum.

·The Chinese government have imposed a nationwide ban on lessons past nine o’clock in the evenings. My language school has already implemented this.

·They will soon ban lessons on the weekends and during vacation periods. (This will probably render foreign teachers useless as most will not be able to carry on teaching — most money is made on the weekends).

The ESL Business

Do Chinese students really need to learn English? How can English language learning benefit citizens in a country where only 0.07% emigrate to foreign lands. Even though there has been an upward trend in Chinese migration since 1970, the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) state that the migration figures are small when compared to other countries. China’s emigration rate is among the lowest worldwide, with only 0.4% of the 1.4 billion population moving to countries such as Indonesia and Russia.

I’ve been taken on shopping trips with students as they lug their phones and iPads around clothes shops and restaurants. I’ve been shown around grandma’s house on the weekends, taken on vacations and admired the wonderful mountain views during a family trek, all from my laptop. Each time, I’ve felt like the child should enjoy what they’re doing rather than being pressured by parents to learn online.

Foreigners take advantage of English teaching opportunities, dazzled by high monthly incomes — ‘Teach English in South Korea or China for $3,000 a month’, accommodation included. Most applicants probably don’t consider that they could be taking a job that could be given to a local citizen.

Parents shouldn’t feel that their children must have academic success to succeed in life. According to research ‘Tiger Parenting’ results in higher academic success but lower levels of well being and self esteem. Traditional Chinese parenting or ‘Tiger parenting’ is when authoritative parents pressure their children into academic success.

Chinese businessman Jack Ma struggles with mathematics and took three years to pass the entry exams into university. He was also rejected multiple times from Harvard Business School. He then went onto co-found the Alibaba Group. Zhong Shanshan sold groceries before starting his billion dollar water company Nongfu Spring in Hangzhou.

Both firms have suffered as Chinese regulations were announced amid an ongoing clampdown on technological firms amid antitrust investigations in China, that has reportedly cost Alibaba nearly $3 billion.

The $10 billion ESL industry has grown rapidly in the Covid-19 era. Since the airing of ESL online regulations, profits for Chinese online platforms in both America and China dived by 20% in only three days. China doesn’t want teaching firms to profit from their overworked citizens no longer.

I can’t help but feel relief at leaving this high pressured industry and the potential end of it. But I also have regret as I hope that my students and all English students receive the high quality education that they deserve.

I think that there should be more restrictions on ESL teachers and checks made mandatory. There are too many foreigners working abroad or online without experience, qualifications and criminal record checks. In fact, perhaps there are too many foreigners going abroad to teach English when locals can be given these jobs in developing regions.

What do you think about ESL teaching online? Is it time to put an end to foreigners teaching Chinese students?

Please let me know in the comments.


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