China’s Newest English Teachers are Filipino

China considering lowering threshold for Filipino teachers

Being a foreign English teacher in China just got more difficult with news that Chinese authorities may soon officially add the Philippines to the country’s list of native English-speaking countries for English teachers.

The Global Times reported that an anonymous source at the State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs (SAFEA) said the agency is considering the possibility of lowering the threshold for Filipino teachers. No further details were revealed, and a time frame for when the policy will be implement has yet to be determined.

No matter their English proficiency, Filipino English teachers have had difficulty finding employment at a Chinese school or training center due to their “non-native English speaker” status in China.

English is one of the two official languages of the Philippines, the other being Tanalog. Both languages are taught in the country’s schools.

Noli Castillano Apachicha, 38, has been teaching in Beijing schools for nine years, and said he was not considered for a job because of his background and skin color. “Some parents are very particular about natives, and we are not given a chance to showcase our teaching capabilities. But after we are given a chance to teach, some Chinese parents realize that Filipino teachers are also good,” said Apachicha.

The lack of regulations governing English teaching in China has been met by a number of new developments that may cool the huge demand for the service.

On Monday, China’s top legislature decided to ban all for-profit schools in China from teaching compulsory education to students from grades 1 through 9. Additionally, after numerous crackdowns over the years, a new classification system will grade expat workers into separate tiers based upon their importance to China’s labor force.

Previously feuding over a territorial spat in the South China Sea, China and the Philippines have enjoyed a thaw in diplomatic relations ever since last month’s state visit by Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte. Since then, China has repealed a ban on Filipino banana imports as well as permitting Filipino fishermen to resume fishing in the disputed Huangyan Island area. 

Three months ago, a ruling made by the Hague international tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines in the South China Seas arbitration, explaining that China did not hold a historical precedence in the area.

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor