China / Innovation

Telecommuting teachers give English training

By Cheng Yingqi (China Daily) Updated: 2012-06-04 07:43

Initiative will help resolve the shortage of qualified instructors in Chinese market

To ease the shortage of English-language teachers in China, companies in Beijing and the United States have teamed up to provide lessons to students over the Internet.

According to an agreement announced on Saturday, Eleutian Technology, which is sponsored by the US state of Wyoming, will provide the talent, while New Channel International Education Group will provide video conferencing services to learners across China.

"This partnership shows that improved connectivity and continued development of broadband technology will allow Wyoming to participate more fully in the global economy," said Wyoming Governor Matt Mead at a news conference in Beijing. "It also means new jobs for the people of Wyoming."

The US state, through the Cheyenne Capital Fund, is the largest indirect investor of Eleutian.

The company has nine 24-hour teaching centers in the US, providing one-on-one and group classes through two-way video.

"When I started the company about seven years ago, I paid a visit to Beijing," said Kent Holiday, chief executive and founder of Eleutian. "Although we have focused on Korea and Japan in past years, I always knew China was going to be a big market."

Eleutian has about 350 full-time and 700 part-time teachers, and all of them are certificated to teach in the US, the CEO said, adding that the company plans to recruit 50 to 100 more to serve its expanding customer base in China.

"The goal of our new partnership is to improve English conversation fluency for students throughout China," said Hu Min, chairman of New Channel. "It's impossible to physically get enough native English-speaking teachers to satisfy demand among Chinese students. This agreement can solve the problem."

The online classes are expected to start in September at New Channel's offices around China. They will also provide equipment for partner high schools and universities. Teachers in the US will give lectures designed by experts and interact with students over the Internet.

"With video-conferencing classes, you don't pay for the teachers' plane tickets or social insurance, so the charge is definitely lower," Hu said.

An estimated 300 million people in China are learning English, resulting in a great demand for native English-language teachers.

"To meet the demand in China, tens of thousands of teachers are needed," said Bob Grady, chairman of Eleutian. "It's hard to make sure they all have work permits, or are certified.

"In the past 20 years, the teacher shortage has been a big problem across Asia. Now we can use the Internet and technology to bring the best teachers in Wyoming to help solve that problem," Grady said.

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