Beijing's successful bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games has encouraged both the government and inhabitants of the city to learn English. But the capital finds it lacks foreign teachers to offer the language training courses. The market for teaching English is set to grow steadily over the next seven years, according to latest issue of Beijing Today.
In fact, the English training market of the capital has been booming over the past decade as young people are seeking better jobs and opportunities to study abroad.
After winning the 2008 Olympic bid, the municipal government placed an order requiring its governmental officials to study English, while ordinary inhabitants should learn some English for communication with foreigners.
According to the order, municipal officials must take a three-month extensive training course. The municipal government even set up an office to coordinate and monitor the language training campaign. Each official will get a certificate as long as he or she passes the examination.
Meanwhile, millions of everyday English dialogue prints have been sent to most of the service sectors in the city like taxi companies, hotels, department stores and shopping centers, as well as companies and entities of various industries. All employees of these sectors and industries are also asked to learn some basic English for communication with foreigners in the city.
All the above measures indicate a potentially huge language training industry in the making. But the city lacks foreign language teachers both in quality and quantity. Foreigners, native English speakers in particular, will be in high demand over the next seven years.
Currently in China, the recruitment of foreigners is bound by a number of restrictions and procedures. There are only 185 institutions in Beijing certified to recruit foreigners, of which 122 are under the control of the municipality and the rest are controlled by the central government. According to the statistics from the central and local governments, there are only 1,000 or so foreign experts working in schools, educational training centers, media, medical and health care organizations and sports researching institutions. But in fact, more foreigners are working illegally as teachers. The local government is encouraging both recruiters and employees to undertake the necessary procedures and legalize their status.
It is believed that even if the current foreigners legalize their status, the city still lacks vast quantities of foreign teachers in government owned schools and universities, as well as privately owned language centers.
(People's Daily 09/07/2001)