20K Filipinos teaching English to Chinese students online — envoy
The coronavirus pandemic, which saw schools worldwide being limited to holding internet classes due to health and safety concerns, has provided an opportunity for some 20,000 Filipinos hired to teach English to Chinese students online, according to the top Philippine diplomat in China.
In a webinar on Friday hosted by 51Talk, an e-learning center based in Beijing, Ambassador Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said “this educational exchange, albeit virtual, provides an enabling environment for cultural exchanges between Filipinos and the Chinese.”
Sta. Romana welcomed the development as the Philippines and China marked the 45th anniversary of their diplomatic relations this year, even as the South China Sea maritime dispute remains the singular hot-button issue in their bilateral ties.
‘Room for growth’
For Jack Huang, founder and CEO of 51Talk, “Filipinos are a perfect fit to educate Chinese children age 5 to 12 years, which make up over 90 percent of 51Talk’s students.”
“That’s why I believe that there is still much room for growth in these bilateral educational exchanges,” he said.
Huang said about 300 million Chinese, or almost one-fourth of China’s population, were currently enrolled in English classes.
“It’s a huge number. That’s a great opportunity for online English tutors and we have only scratched the surface,” he said at the webinar.
He said his company would hire another 30,000 foreign online teachers to meet the increasing demand for English-language education in China.
The Filipino tutors may earn P108 to P200 per hour, depending on the size of the class, Huang added.
In comparison, the current going rate for English language classes for Korean students is P300 to P750 per hour, for a class taking up a maximum of three hours, according to a teacher who has taught both Korean and Chinese students.
The teacher, who requested not to be identified, said classes with more students may be charged as much as P1,000 per hour.
In the Philippines, 51Talk has helped put up 90 training centers that have so far enabled about 1,000 Filipinos to qualify as online English tutors, said Huang.
“As the demand for online-based learning surges in China brought about by the … COVID-19 pandemic, it is my hope that more doors will be opened up for more and more Filipino educators in the same mutually beneficial manner,” Sta. Romana said.
The two countries are working together to “maintain an environment that permits the continuity of such a fruitful exchange, and that allows our endeavors to reach more of our peoples on the ground,” he added.
Interested applicants may check out 51Talk’s Facebook account or visit its official website in the Philippines, 51Talk.ph.