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Teaching Chinese abroad as a non-native speaker

By anastasiasuli ( Updated: 2014-08-18 15:20

Teaching English in China is still the most popular job among foreigners and the most attractive one, if we consider the salaries for foreign teachers in some schools. No wonder so many Westerners who find themselves in China don't hesitate to take advantage of this beautiful situation once the opportunity is given. Surprisingly, while newly-made teachers from abroad are occupying the education market in China, the Chinese, in pursuit of better life in other countries, take on a teacher's path overseas.

Two weeks ago I enrolled in the program governed by ICA (International Chinese Language Teachers Association, or 国际汉语教师协会). The course focuses on the theory and practice of how to teach the Chinese language to foreigners, mainly abroad. The course itself presents a number of lectures on the essentials of teaching a language: culture, grammar, reading, writing, speaking, listening.

The final exam comes at the end of the whole course, and after successfully completing the exam, the student is granted an internationally recognized certificate that allows him officially to educate foreigners about the Chinese language and culture officially. I found the prospects rather tempting, and ended up being the only foreigner in the class! To my surprise, one of our professors turned out to be my former teacher from BLCU, and it was pleasant to see him, in the very same university, and again as my teacher.

The majority of my fellow students are older than me and many of them didn’t study teaching in the university. I was very curious what was it that brought them here to study something different from their current occupation. It should be mentioned, that the course is intended for those who are planning to go abroad. Having talked to some of the course’s attendees, I found out that many students came from provinces.

One of them, let us call him Mr. Z, is a Singapore citizen, but currently resides in China, in Zhejiang, with his family. Soon they all will return to Singapore. Another student, Mr. D, is a resident of Ireland, and according to his words, has been living there for more than 10 years already. He used to work as a bartender, but lately decided to go back to Beijing to complete the course, get the cherished certificate and become an official teacher of Chinese in Ireland, where his Chinese family is living. He loves Britain and Britons, and they love him back.

Another girl my age is planning on her move to South Korea, so she will need the certificate to find a job there. Two university graduates from Shandong province hope to trade that familiar spot for North America. And no wonder, they both are graduates of English teaching. Having obtained the named certificate, they stand a better chance of finding a job overseas. Although, somewill learn Chinese teaching techniques just out of curiosity.

Here I have to drop a few words about my own perception of being the only foreigner in a class of future teachers of Chinese. Last Thursday I attended the trial exam where the teachers are required to demonstrate a 15-minute demo-lesson that is to be recorded while taking the real exam, and evaluated. I couldn't help but feeling as though it brought back the old days of my liuxuesheng life in BFSU and later in BLCU, with the only difference: now I'm not a student, I'm more like a retrainee. Which is more, I am equal now with the Chinese teachers who, probably, will be teaching Chinese language nerds like me in the future.

The times when we were singing songs, reciting poems, doing loads of homework for our Chinese lessons are passed, and now me, a former student, can express my opinion on what I like, don't like or make my own remarks on how the Chinese lesson should be organized, and to learn to teach foreign language students like I used to be myself. I hope you, my dear readers, get my idea if you ever attended Chinese lessons at the university and remember those joyful days. And now I have that feeling of standing equal with those who teach the language you never dreamed of mastering, and now you are among them!

However, when it comes to the hard work that I have to do to meet the target, euphoria disappears. My dear friends, wish me good luck and a lot of patience!

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