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Native English Speakers Only

Popularity 9Viewed 9529 times 2015-7-24 18:09 |System category:News| English

Oh yeah, you guessed right. From the title you know where this article is heading towards. But hey, don’t judge yet, get to the bottom and allow me to present my case. To my friends and fellow bloggers, compatriots, comrades, birds of the same feathers, native English speakers, allow me to once in a while bash the system overlooked by the “main system”. There are some topics or issues that just won’t go away unless they are dealt with appropriately, and this is one of them.


I tend to get a lot of opposition and make quite a few enemies anytime I tackle this issue but anyway that’s always the problem with addressing pertinent issues that bite. And this particular issue bites deep core into the social strata of Chinese society and the ludicrous expat employment industry in China. I have always tried not to label it as racism as others have done. It’s more or less an issue of globalization and China’s current status as a developing country unlike most developed countries where an employment advertisement requiring “Whites only” would be deemed as a blatant racist or redneck advert.


Ever since my first post on this issue relating to the employment scene in China, I have been receiving popular requests by some aggrieved persons to do follow-up stories, which I personally believe needs echoing and re-echoing until the system adjusts or puts a “human face” to the way jobs are advertised in China. I dare say that if the government is serious about attracting foreign talents as it claims then this form of advertising where “native speakers only” are explicitly posted on job platforms should be strongly discouraged.


The bone of contention here, I must repeat like I did in my first post titled, ‘God save native English speakers” isn’t with native English speakers, they have done nothing wrong (they’re just basking in the profits) but rather those agents and job platforms who are ignorantly being openly racist. They seem to be existing in the days of racial discrimination in Europe, America and Apartheid South Africa where “Colored and White Only’ were openly written on doors of public areas including places of convenience, public transport, schools for Whites only, and what so not. The list could go on and on.  

But check this, many would be amazed that that is not exactly the case on the ground here in China, even though it is the case in some areas, there are so many jobs here particularly in the English teaching industry for non-native English speakers. The demand far outweighs the supply. A lot of non-native English speakers make complaints about not finding jobs in China but after persistence trials they find jobs irrespective of one’s color or race. There are jobs, and statistically comparing the ratio of native English speakers and non-natives English speakers who are employed in China would be baseless. The fact however remains that skin color determines ones remuneration. 

The argument that would you for example have a native-Spanish speaker teach you Spanish or a British from a remote area in England who has learnt the language fluently teach you Spanish can’t be easily dismissed. Some people for example would prefer a native Chinese speaker to teach them mandarin instead of paying a foreigner to teach them, but why put forward a discriminatory advertisement requiring a particular group of people when you can still secure the services of a native speaker from submitted applications without openly discriminating or stereotyping. The answer is simple and a lot has been written about it- white sells.


There are others who oppose the above argument and they are of the opinion that most so called native English speakers can’t even teach their own language better than they can, simply because they (non-native speakers) have mastered the language and are better equipped to teach others how they could also speak fluently like they do. They argue that the majority of native English speakers hired as language instructors in China are not trained teachers but just some “system leftovers” from layoff due to the impact of the financial crisis in Europe and America. Others from this school of thought also opine that accent does not really matter. So far as one is able to comprehend and speak fluently that’s all that matters. They argue that even in some native English speaking countries like Britain there are hoards of accents that might baffle learners of the Queen’s language, so what the heck.


My position with regards to the two arguments above is that it’s about time the Chinese public realized that teaching English or working in a corporate environment has nothing to do with being a native English speaker. This is a well documented fact. What matters most is that the employee is well trained and has the right qualification, speaks English fluently  and hardly makes any grammatical error- which we all know even seasoned journalists at some of the world’s famous media corporations do all the time.  

It is also documented that this native-English speakers only phenomenon in China is associated with the belief that learners of the Queens language can learn to speak with accents like native-English speakers. What a sham. Who doesn’t know that the use of the phrase “native speakers only” has become synonymous with “whites only”. It is just a cloak to hide ignorantly under the cover of racist intentions.


I chanced upon a relevant discussion on this topic on our forum here by pnp an honorable blogger. He really nailed it better than I could have. I’d wanted to take quotes from the post but those quotes alone can’t highlight the problem he was addressing. Please do well to follow the link above for a better critique and opinion on this canker.


What I picked from pnp’s post was that the ability to speak with clarity and fluency is what matters most and not the accent one speaks with. From my understanding, so far as what you say can be easily comprehended and makes sense, you’re good to go.


The focus on a particular accent, race or color is what fuels this discriminatory form of advertisement. I once had someone telling me, “it is their country and if you don’t like the way things are done just pack and leave”. That obviously is the worst comment to tie loose ends of a situation that the majority of expats in China care about.


We all live in a globalized community and there are citizens of all countries spread across the entire globe. There are interracial marriages all over here in China and so to tell someone to pack and leave simply because of some bias and discriminatory employment requirements is ignorance of the highest order. All citizens of different nationalities around the globe might as well pack and leave. But that won’t happen because it is impossible. That is like grounding the world economy to a halt. I’m not an expert on Employment laws in China so pardon me for any blunder, but I do know for sure that this form of advertisement wouldn’t pass in other civilized and democratic societies.


The day I will stop blogging is when China Daily requires that only native English speakers are allowed to submit posts. But that will not go without a fight, laugh it off. I know for sure they would never stoop to such mediocre. I do however admire the staff for allowing me to use this platform to criticize the system for allowing such openly racist adverts to go uncensored.




(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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