There have been a few interesting blogs about English teaching in Taiwan recently. I want to post a few links and comments about them.
At Forumosa ImaniOU laments that no matter how well qualified or experienced you are its tough finding a job in Taiwan if you are black. Doubting to shuo further explored the issue in his post on Non-racist Recruiting. I made some comments there about discrimination against people who aren’t from North America. Doubting to shuo then posted some more comments on this issue:
One thing David questioned about my school last week is why my boss is looking for North American teachers as opposed to British, Australian or other native English speakers. I can completely understand how this sort of policy would be annoying to those it excluded, much like the fact that high paying IELTS jobs prefer teachers from the UK or commonwealth countries is frustrating for some Americans. There’s no doubt that the preference of schools skews heavily towards American English.
Daniel at Suitcasing.com also weighed in on the issue.
To start with, something light. Is it good or bad to be a British English teacher here in Taiwan?
My view is that essentially it isn’t a big issue: given that there are such huge racial divisions in the teaching market in Taiwan, worrying about where you fall in the top bucket seems a little frivolous. That point made, having a North American accent is a big advantage for teaching children. People seem to want their children to get an American accent, or to at least get used to hearing it, and so as non North American arrival, a lot of job adverts announce that they do not prefer you. What “preferred” actually means is a good question… From what I’ve seen and heard of much of commercial cram school (buxiban) market, the stress is on: are the students happy, are the parents happy, are you coming to work on time, not creating problems – rather than some abstract view of what education you are giving children.
It marks the start of a series of posts by Daniel about English teaching. His next one is Teaching as therapy.
Taiwantroll has been silent for a while. He has recently moved to Bangkok and is reorganising his blog to separate the posts on Taiwan and Thailand. He has started writing a monthly column for the Thai English teaching website Ajarn.com. You can find his columns here (you will need to scroll down to find the articles by Taiwan Troll).
Scott Sommers makes some interesting observations about differences in politics and education policy between the West and the East.
In a series of posts appearing on the blog Crooked Timber, the developing conflict in the USA between science and Republican party politics is discussed. This discussion stems from a recent book by Chris Mooney, The Republican War on Science. Mooney states that there is a growing number of issues on which Republicans are lined up on one side and the scientific community on the other. He includes in this conflict over issues evolution, global warming, and the dangers of cigarette smoking. For more information, check out the book website and blog.
Regardless of how one feels about these issues, it is significant that no such conflicts have emerged as political issues in Asian countries. Education and science have been interpreted strictly as tools for economic development. While there is often conflict between political parties on how best to utilize these forces in the struggle for development, it is clear what their function is. They are neutral commodities in a struggle to make the nation strong. In this sense, they serve a function similar to the military or health care.
While most Taiwan bloggers tend to focus on politics, culture and the highs and lows of living in a foreign country it is good to see there is some interesting stuff about English teaching being posted. It also made me think that although there are many foreigners here in Taiwan studying Chinese I don’t know of any blogs that really discuss the experience of learning Chinese in much detail. If there is anyone out there blogging about this post a comment and I will link to your blog.
On good source of interesting information about everything related to issues about Chinese languages and romanisation is Pinyin News.