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Illustration: Luo Xuan/GT


Quite often I've felt like "the ham in the sandwich," caught in the middle of two warring factions that can't seem to get it together.

At first, there's the period of "romance" when a new teacher comes to a school and everything is wonderful.

During those first weeks, a foreign teacher in China is still trying to find his or her bearing and can feel lost when things are done differently from in their home countries.

Here I'd tell the foreigner, "Take a deep breath, practice patience and be diplomatic."

Then comes the administrator who dumps all the work on the foreigner, forgetting to be thankful and understand that this person is a human being.

Many of the leaders of these schools are often motivated by the opportunity for a quick buck. But at what expense? When it comes to the education of children, one should not be over promising a marketing department or parent about how quickly the youngster will learn English.

The reality is that a language takes two years to learn and a lifetime to perfect.

A school in desperation will throw all the work on the teachers. Then the teachers start to leave because they feel overworked and "abused," and things will get ugly.

Desperation will make a school hire just about anybody who's an English speaker, not even checking whether he or she is a professional or a dirt bag!

I believe that 90 percent of the foreigners who come to China to teach work rather well. The problem is the other 10 percent who do it only for the money and are at the pub every other day of the week.

There comes a point when this "revolving door" of teachers coming and going has to stop. Better hiring practices have to be put in place, and retention practices have to be enforced.

I've seen English schools go under in less than five years. Part of it is due to their hiring practices and how they handle foreigners. Also, there isn't a good system in place for background checks.

A relationship is not only built at the beginning of the hiring process but throughout the entire contract.

I've also seen schools with excellent leadership where teachers are retained for several years. Then, out of the blue, the leaders change, and from there, the school goes downhill. I've seen it happen twice, and it needs to change.

If a teacher is a good professional and their English is excellent, I really don't care where they come from. What matters is their quality inside and outside the classroom.

With that said, administrators should treat their employees better, and when an employee does a good job, they should reward them with compliments, thank-yous and promotions.

Teachers do not do it only for the money. They have some integrity and are devoted to their students. Mutual cooperation and respect should be given by both sides so that we can all get along in peace!

This article was published on the Global Times Metropolitan section Two Cents page, a space for reader submissions, including opinion, humor and satire. The ideas expressed are those of the author alone, and do not represent the position of the Global Times.