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  • Personality Types and the ELT Teacher September 4, 2011
    The following is an excerpt from Tim Brice’s new book, “MORPHING INTO THE REAL WORLD – A Handbook for Entering the Work Force” which is a survival guide for young people as they transition into adult life. The book offers considerable advice regarding how to manage our personal and professional lives. As a part of this, […]
  • Do you Have an Effective Pre-Employment Screening Policy for New Teachers? September 4, 2011
    It is estimated that in 2010, a massive 90% of companies performed some kind of background check during their hiring process. This figure, Susan McCullah suggests, broadly encompasses criminal, drug, assessment testing, and education and employment verification. For pre-employment screening of prospective teachers to be effective, however, employers must eva […]
  • Custom Essay Writing: An ELT Perspective September 4, 2011
    As I’ve noted before on this site, the modern university student has a great deal on their plate. With so many non-native English speakers now moving abroad to study in institutions where English is the language of study, the pressure is really on to produce written work that is of an acceptable standard, even though these […]
  • 9 Ways to Increase Teacher Collaboration August 31, 2011
    So, you want to increase the teacher collaboration in your school but you are struggling with the ideas to motivate your teachers so that they can participate actively in progress of your organization? Well, you have come to the right place, suggests Steve Sinclair. There are 9 simple and easy ways that can be used to […]
  • English Slang: Be Careful when you Use it August 29, 2011
    Millions of people around the world are trying to learn English or to improve their English, Notes Robert Hewson. There are a few things to be careful of when learning English. One frustrating thing can be learning how to use English slang properly. If you learn to use it correctly, your English will sound very natural. […]
  • Alternative careers: IRS enrolled agent August 29, 2011
    Back when I was a young TEFL, Iain, a good friend also started out on a new career as an IRS Enrolled Agent. I though he’d sold out on a meaningless career at the time, but a recent conversation got me thinking. Firstly, what kind of continuing education do we need to pursue to remain in […]
  • What is Good Teaching? August 19, 2011
    All students must have had hundreds of teachers in their lifetimes, notes Bhushan Manchanda. A very small number of these teachers they would remember as being exceptionally good. So, what are the qualities that combine to create an excellent, memorable teacher? Why do some teachers inspire students to work three times harder than they normally would, […]
  • Imperatives for buying essays August 19, 2011
    Loads of students speculate as to how to pay money for an essay for the simple reason that they don’t have a clue which online writing companies are genuine and which aren’t. It’s imperative for students taking this line of action to be on familiar terms with how to buy an essay from companies which are […]
  • Alternative careers: Physical therapy (part 2) August 17, 2011
    This is a follow up to my previous article on delving into the alternative career of physical therapy. If you’re thinking of becoming a physical therapist working in a private practice, there are a few tactics you might want to consider. Take every chance you can to increase your practice. The following ideas will help to […]
  • Top 3 Tips for your TESOL course August 16, 2011
    Danny Yong explains what he thinks are the important factors to take into consideration when choosing a TESOL course. TESOL courses might seem like they are the same wherever you are, but they are worth investigating. If you are researching a course, here is my advice based on my experience: 1) Location, Location, Location A) Get one nearby. B) Be […]

Teaching English to prostitutes in China

By Robert Vance

“Quite a few of your English students are prostitutes,” a friend told me today as she recounted a conversation that she had with her hair stylist recently. “The guy who cut my hair told me that many of your training center’s female students come to him two or three times a week to get their hair done before they go to work.” She went on to explain that according to the hair stylist, some of my students sell their bodies at night in local hotels where there might be as many as 200 prostitutes gathered in one establishment. Other students work as “high class” prostitutes providing sexual services to just one or two likely married men in exchange for a place to live and a monthly stipend.

prostitutesI was not surprised by this revelation. The foreign staff at my training center in China had suspected for months that some of our female students were involved in the sex profession in order to make a living in a city where even decent paying jobs for uneducated people are hard to come by. The tuition at our school is extremely expensive making it almost impossible for anyone with less than a middle class income to attend. I just have too many female students in their mid 20’s who are living quite comfortably in this city with no family and no job. It simply does not add up.

Some of my students do claim that they have a job but the information is often sketchy at best. The answers are often similar as well. “I work in sales” is a common response as well as “I do business for myself” or “I work for a Japanese company.” Usually, it is made clear that more information about the job is not forthcoming.

Other students claim that they have a ‘rich’ boyfriend who is supporting them to go to school. Information about where the boyfriend lives or what he does for a living is also often vague. They are simply not interested in talking about these relationships.

I previously wrote a piece entitled Why Prostitutes in China are Learning English in which I suggested that learning English could help ‘ladies of the evening’ in China to find other lines of work. Unfortunately, I think I was a little too naive in my optimism. The Chinese education system has been saturated with English schools so much so that that acquiring proficiency in English is no longer a surefire way of obtaining a good job in China. If anything, prostitutes are learning English in China so that they can better communicate with foreign clients. After all, the foreign demand for sex services is an important key to the thriving success of prostitution in China. Recently, I came across a lengthy message board thread full of ex-pats in China giving each other advice on how and where to pick up girls. Learning English may not lift a girl in China out of a life of prostitution but it certainly can improve her prospects within the business.

Knowing that I may be teaching English to prostitutes does not alter the way that I view students in my classes. If anything, I feel sorry for these women who are victims of an overpopulated and corrupt culture that only seems to favor the few lucky ones who have money or connections. The rest of the population are left to ‘fend for themselves.’ Some make the right choice and some do not, but for too many in China, life is still all about survival.

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