Hŭ tóu shé wĕ

Hŭ tóu shé wĕ is translated “tiger’s head, snake’s body.” This Chinese saying describes how things can start out well with a project or partnership and then (all too soon) the quality fades. In the book Poorly Made in China, this saying is mentioned a lot as it is how the Chinese like to do things all too often.

I saw this at Xiang Jiang High School where I taught for Coastline Community College. They cut back on time spent teaching English, on resources, but not on tuition. It’s happened with the Australian program here and my program. When I first started teaching here students got 10 hours a week of English. Now they get 8. Next year some freshmen will get 4 hours with the others soon to follow suit as they did with the Univ. of Tasmanian students. When all the first years get 4, then all the other students will just get 6. They’ll have more time mainly for test prep with the Chinese English teachers, some are fine and others aren’t. The less skilled Chinese English teachers just talk about English in Chinese. It’s the best they can do. They use a lot of rote learning. As these hours with Western educators decreases, the students will be less prepared to take on the daunting task of business or technology classes in English.

The program becomes a Potemkin Village, with a high price tag.

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