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US teachers sought by education companies in China to work online

By Lia Zhu in Salt Lake City | China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-03-13 10:48

Education companies in China are looking to hire US teachers to exploit the lucrative market of rich kids' ambitious parents.

When it comes to children's education, Chinese parents are known to begrudge no expense and spare no effort. "Don't lose at the starting point" - a saying circulated among parents of young children - has been popular for years.

Educational programs covering various subjects have been mushrooming across China's big cities. English-language classes, especially taught by foreign teachers, are among the most popular.

More companies have shifted to online video classes linking teachers in the US to students in China, which is more profitable as it engages with more students and costs less than relocating the teachers to China.

"Increasing income" and "second-child policy" are the main driving forces in the business, said Mi Wenjuan, CEO of VIPkid, a Beijing-based English-language education company targeting children 4 to 12.

"The growing middle-class parents demand private, one-on-one lessons for their children," she told an excited audience of middle-aged women packed in a hotel room in Salt Lake City, Utah, on Saturday.

They were the company's contract teachers. Almost all of them are full-time mothers, and belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormons, said one of the teachers, who gave only her first name Christina.

"Our religion values family. That's why we have a lot of (contract) teachers here," she said.

In 2017, VIPkid's 25-minute-long classes raked in $760 million in revenue, according to Mi. The US teachers are paid $14-$18 per hour, according to the company's job posting at LinkedIn. People with at least one year of teaching experience, either in school or a tutoring setting, are qualified for the job.

The company touts "working at home" and "no lesson planning is required" as perks in the job description.

The teachers seem to be happy with the pay for a "work-from-home job". An entry-level teacher in Salt Lake City makes $32,000 a year, said Christina, who is paid $16 an hour by VIPkid.

China's online education promises an almost $43 billion market in 2019 with an annual growth rate of 20 percent, according to Beijing-based market consultancy iResearch.

Coming along with the rapid expansion of the companies is the increasing demand from the US teachers to improve management.


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