I’m sure every single one of our Loco teachers (yes, even this one) has been asked, or will be asked at some stage, “don’t you need to speak Chinese to teach Chinese kids”, NO!
There is a plentiful amount of English speaking Chinese adults throughout each city, but it is your knowledge and experience as a teacher, in addition to your fluency of speech that is often the most sought after thing employers look for when hiring teachers. Coming from a strictly English speaking background is regularly seen as an advantage, and parents pay large sums of money annually to have their children exposed to such an environment.
There is no better feeling in the world than watching a student progress from not being able to say the word ‘blue’, to understanding you in full sentence. Not only does not speaking Chinese not offer any short cuts to students, but it makes the students have to really understand and comprehend the material you are teaching. Teachers who have properly learned how to effectively use TPR (Total Physical Response), which is ones’ greatest tool on the way to making a student bi-lingual, are seen as more complete, as their ability to communicate is amplified and are more desired.
Even for those who do know the local language, it is heavily discouraged to use it whilst in class, where often at the beginning of lessons parents will instruct their children saying “no Chinese”. The parents pay for an immersion in the English language and that’s what they expect.