China Targets On-line EFL

A Chinese girl learning English online

New regulations require online platforms based in China to display details of the qualifications of their foreign teachers. Under new Ministry of Education guidelines announced in July, online English schools that teach under-15s have until June 2020 to make their teachers’ credentials viewable to students and parents. Personal information will be redacted.

Platforms must now obtain teachers’ 120+ hour TEFL certificate from a “recognised institution”. They also need evidence of two years of teaching experience; a bachelor’s degree certificate and a police background check.

One teacher who contacted the Teachway website had been told that their 40-hour TEFL certificate wouldn’t be enough. Another teacher with a master’s degree in TESOL was told they’d still need to see their initial TEFL certificate as well. Those who don’t have the required initial TEFL certification are being urged by their schools to get one – fast.

News outlet Caijing reported customers of online English platform 51Talk who were looking for evidence of their teachers’ credentials had either been given those of a different teacher, or the organisation “refused” to share details with them. In response, 51Talk said 80 per cent of their teachers already have the required certification, while the remainder are expected to have gained this by the 2020 deadline.


A Chinese language school franchise, Web International English, with 154 centres closed its doors shortly before we went to press. According to China’s Sixth Tone website, this is the third educational franchise to close since July this year in Shanghai alone.

Image courtesy of Handout
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Matt Salusbury
MATT SALUSBURY, news editor and journalist, has worked for EL Gazette since 2007. He is also joint Chair of the London Freelance Branch of the National Union of Journalists and co-edits its newsletter, the Freelance. He taught English language for 15 years in the Netherlands, in Turkey, in a North London further education college and now as an English for Academic Purposes tutor, most recently at the London School of Economics. He is a native English speaker and is also fluent in Dutch.