China Cracks Down on Language (Amanda Florian, November 29, 2023, New/Lines)
Two years ago, a linguistic and political Pandora’s box was opened in China. Under new rules, tutors were no longer allowed to hold private classes in person or online for students based in China. Though this was not exclusive to English-language courses, it largely affected tutors and education companies that specialized in teaching English as a second language (ESL).
The crackdown not only restricted the raising of foreign capital by tutoring companies, it also had an impact on tutors thousands of miles away. Private tutors across the globe, including young Americans who taught English as their second job, found themselves without work. Chinese students — and their parents — eager to sign up for English courses in person or online suddenly had to resort to private lessons on the black market. This was only the beginning.
“Suddenly, this crackdown of no more online teaching appeared,” Katie, a teacher based in Hampshire, England, who taught independently after the ban was implemented, told New Lines. “So, yeah, I would say it was quite unexpected for a lot of teachers.” Advertising her services on Chinese platforms like WeChat and Xiaohongshu, China’s version of Pinterest, she said, there was still a lot of demand from students and parents looking for solutions despite the ban.
The restrictions on private tutoring led VIPKid, one of the biggest online education companies, to halt private courses offered in China while other companies shut down completely. VIPKid, once valued at $3 billion, had been backed by a hefty lineup, including Tencent, Sequoia Capital and Jack Ma’s Yunfeng Capital.
“As a foreigner, former teacher, and person living in the modern global economy, I cannot agree with or even understand the thought process of neutering an entire generation’s ability to communicate with the world. It seems absolutely insane to me,” said an American former ESL teacher, currently based in Henan, China.
Globalization is Anglofication. Mandarin is a dead language.