Shamefully, I have yet to visit any countries in Asia other than Japan. Staying put in one place in such a culturally rich part of the world seems like a crime – China, Korea, and Thailand are all just a few short hours away, but I still haven’t made the journey. Partly because there’s plenty to see in Japan and partly because I’m a lousy and lazy ELT.
If I were to go to China, I wonder if the TEFL trade would still be booming? It has been reported that a massive 300 million Chinese people are learning English, which surely makes it the highest number of English learners in any one country in the world.
The BC report
Remarkably, the latest reports are showing that the English market continues to thrive in China. A report made by the British Council into the growth and future of ELT in India and China has resulted in a positive outlook. The demand for teachers in China is still not being met despite the fact that companies and local governments are keen to increase the number and quality of English language teachers.
Who’s learning in China?
Where does this market exist? Understandably, business English is the hot commodity in China as internationally minded companies try to improve their standing on the world scene. It has been reported that English is no longer a desirable skill in job candidates – it’s essential.
EL Gazette reports that it’s not about business English only. The majority of learners in two regions of China cited ‘personal development’ and ‘interest in English’ as their reason for studying the language. The demand for teachers of young learners is also increasing as schools and parents try to develop English skills in their children from a young age. It’s clear, then, that ESP (English for Specific Purposes) is a key part of the China TEFL industry.
TEFL China: recession-proof
A press release on the BC website concludes by saying that ‘the EL market [in China] is seemingly unaffected by the global economic downturn; in fact it may well increase the importance of learning English as competition for jobs becomes more intense.’