This news is quite old now (from May), but I find it interesting that the publishing house Pearson is planning to buy a chain of schools in Shanghai. The Guardian reports that:
Textbook and newspaper publisher Pearson is poised to buy a chain of private schools in Shanghai to tap into the growing demand for English language teaching from increasingly affluent Chinese families.
This is part of a trend of overseas companies buying, or setting up, English schools in China. I’ve seen an increase in the number of Universities moving into China. Their motivation is clear: The money they make from the students attending their school in China is only the tip of the iceberg. The real money is getting the Chinese students to study at their university back home.
It’s an interesting move by Pearson, as they don’t have a university back home to send them too. I’m sure they’ll have a deal lined up with a university, to send students their way. And as the article points out:
Pearson leads the English teaching books market worldwide, claiming half a billion people are learning the language with its Longman materials.
So all the students will have to buy their textbooks! I guess that’s one way to combat piracy: Buy the schools so that they have to buy the genuine article for each student, rather than giving them photocopied versions!
Note to the lawyers out there: I’m not saying that LEC (the chain that Pearson is buying) does this, but I’ve seen it done by other schools. On a similar issue, I wonder what they’ll do when they come across schools with names such as Longmans English School, which are named to capitalise on Pearson’s reputation, but which have nothing to do with the school.
Anyway, what does this mean for foreign teachers?
Well the trend of Western companies moving into China’s English Education sector means rising standards, resulting in:
- harder work for teachers: it won’t be the ‘turn up and talk to the student’ lessons that you can get away with in some schools, it’ll be real work.
- qualifications may be necessary: unqualified teachers won’t be able to just waltz into a job.
- better conditions: as standards rise, so will the pay for qualified teachers.
- better working environment: as teachers become more professional, so will the organisations, resulting in better planning, materials and support.
Of course, I’ve seen western organizations struggle to come to terms with the way things work in China, so I’m sure it will be far from plain sailing, but good luck to Pearson!