Chinese Teachers Despise YOU. Why? – Clash of Cultures II


Hear ye, hear ye. Stand and be judged, barbarians!


A while ago, you may remember, Mike’s Guide to China published (we hope) a frank and informative synopsis on ways Chinese co-teachers working in English schools aggravate their foreign coworkers.

Following that, a choice was made: take that evaluation of co-teacher’s behavior toward foreigners, flip it on its side, and settle that patty back down on the frying pan. That’s right, foreign teachers. Your turn to put your head in the guillotine.

Before we go any further, some things should be made abundantly clear: Yes, Chinese teachers were interviewed and consulted. Responsible and ethical measures were taken. (A brave new world, we know.) Yes, they were assured that no retribution would occur — so, you know, don’t go reading this article and subsequently burn your co-teachers in effigy. No, Chinese teachers were not encouraged to sugarcoat anything. On the contrary, honest feedback and candor were required. Not just in the interest of – again, hold your breath – integrity, but because trying to pull teachers’ heartstrings by portraying a picture-perfect classroom just seems ridiculously silly. Play a Beach Boys record in class all you want…there still won’t be any sunshine and lollipops falling from the sky. Foreign teachers. Co-teachers. We all suffer to some degree.

And yes, foreign teachers, you contribute to co-teachers’ suffering too…


Reason #1



The ‘Foreign Defiler’ Veneer:

Which, when applied, transforms you into a pungent, disgusting creature worthy of an H.P. Lovecraft novel. Undesirable features and habits run the gamut: using saliva to erase the board, making excessive physical contact (more on that), exuding poor hygiene (read: breath and body odor that scream I drank whiskey and had sex last night!)….our interviewed co-teachers listed those and more. Imagine an amalgamation of Stifler, Wayne Rooney and the Sh#t Demon from Dogma. That’s how co-teachers will see you if you’re not careful. Even wearing your favorite cologne or perfume can be an unwelcome assault. You call it Magnifique Gentlemen. They call it Parfum de Douche.

How to respond harmoniously:

You can’t stay sober for eight hours? Seriously? And you do know it’s ok to not put your hands on every Chinese girl who speaks to you, right? Simple self-reflection and small lifestyle adjustments while at the school ought to be sufficient.


Reason #2


Ohhh, Steve. You were amazing….at conjugating those verbs


The ‘Manager’s Pet’ Persona:

Which should be gracefully removed and buried in a yard somewhere. Look, it’s no secret that foreigners can often get preferential treatment in China. As a wise man once told this writer, The Devil gave me this ability to speak English. China wants English. What do you want from me? Fair enough. But when your Chinese manager starts stroking your…uhm…ego, THAT’s where problems occur. Why? Because your Chinese coworkers are getting screwed with their pants on by the same manager. Every. Single. Day. Don’t forget that. Only difference is, they don’t complain. The co-teachers somehow find their inner Tennyson and plunge into Death Valley without question. It should therefore surprise no one that they’re chagrined to see foreign teachers indulging the boss’ double standards. That’s not the worse that can happen, though. “Sometimes I see foreign teachers take it a step further and try negotiating rules just for them,” says one teacher. “It drives me crazy!”

How to respond harmoniously: 

Feign disinterest when the school manager plays favorites with you, and keep a level playing field. If your efforts are for naught, however, you can always try buying your co-teacher’s love. We suggest Hello Kitty or a 自拍神器 (zi pai shen qi – those damned selfie sticks you see freaking everywhere now).


Reason #3



The ‘R-rated Movie Incarnate’ Ordeal:

Which ought to come with balloons, but alas…we’re in China. And as guests of China, we’re required to respect its social mores. So what the hell are we talking about, you might ask? Well, simply put…BOSOMS! LOTS AND LOTS OF BOSOMS! Sorry ladies, but your dimensions combined with, shall we say, revealing attire can make your Chinese comrades a bit cranky. And not just the teachers, mind you. “My parents and students are very uncomfortable when a foreign teacher is too open,” says one co-teacher. (Too open or too yellow is China-speak for You look like a harlot and we don’t like it.) Beware these other R-rated features that can make your co-teachers squirm: nose rings, tattoos, and (our favorite) wearing shower sandals to work. Yup. Shower sandals are equivalent to used condoms here. Revealing them in public can never bode well for you.

How to respond harmoniously: 

Ladies, you can still be proud of your bosoms…just consider fastening up a few more buttons before class.


Reason #4


Oh, do go on. Tell me how cool you are, Mr Foreigner.


The Snob Identity:

Which stars you, the foreign teacher, as a condescending a-hole trying to ‘educate’ your Chinese coworkers. Oops, did we say foreign teachers? Sorry…foreign managers out there need to pay particular attention to this one. Reality check: those ‘meetings’ you have ‘training’ the Chinese staff often come across as Here are the reasons why my country is awesome and yours isn’t. And usually they’re combined with a patronizing tone that’ll have co-teachers wishing Lei Feng would burst in the room and dropkick your ass to the ground. Don’t even think they don’t know you’re talking down to them. Oh, THEY KNOW.

How to respond harmoniously: 

Resist the temptation to enlighten others about your culture. Yes, culture is a fun topic for both parties to discuss. Unfortunately, there’s a fine line between ‘cultural awareness’ and ‘cultural superiority’. Kind of like how there’s a fine line between snuggling and holding someone down so that they can’t get away.


Reason #5


The foreign teacher has arrived? No words, no words…


The ‘I’ve Got Skillz’ Faux Pas:

Which, when exercised in the classroom, reveals shortcomings and attitudes that’ll have your Chinese co-workers eager to kill you. There’s a difference between skillz and skills. The latter is real. You’ve got the former. Which, put simply, means you can’t play a game or teach, even if the team from Inception went in and deposited lesson plans in your head. Co-teachers are tired of foreign teachers prancing about with puffed-up chests thinking that they’re the Savior of the School. Says one teacher: “Tone it down. We know you escaped to our country. And we know most of you probably never taught before.” Said another: “Many foreign teachers can’t play games. They just can’t.” Translation? Cease and desist all attempts to ‘fake it till you make it’.

How to respond harmoniously: 

It’s pretty easy. Drop the hubris, try learning your trade, and start actually preparing decent lessons. Remember, education is the silver bullet. It’s serious work for serious people.

– Mike’s Guide to China