Expat Demographics in 4 Quadrants part the first: Loser English Teachers and Cool English Teachers

In my latest post, I shall attempt to categorize the demographics of the mainland Chinese expat in four quadrants. Just a theory of mine I like sharing. Please note this is very much generalization. It is not meant to encompass all foreigners, it’s about Westerner expats and their scene. In fact, this mostly goes for males so I’m going to assume masculine terms below. Forgive me for painting with a broad brush, there are degrees and exceptions but I think it by and large counts.

Often the casual observer makes an even simpler observation on expat demos; there are loser English teachers, and everybody else. There is more than a kernel of truth in that stereotype to be sure, but I hope to be a bit more detailed so as a to give a break to our ESL friends and simultaneously not give a break to some other sorts.

It breaks up as so: Loser English Teachers & Cool English teachers, and Good Businessmen & Evil Businessmen


Loser English Teachers: This is an archetype we all know well. The dropouts, the drunks at clubs, the young and (sadly, sometimes very) old who don’t seem to be employable anywhere else in the world and tend to have no skill sets and are only hired because of a foreign face. It’s downright profiling.

Not necessarily native-English speakers at all, they can hail from any country in the world and simply bounce from one ‘performing monkey’ job to the next. The blond Russians, the aloof central Europeans, and some seriously awkward French-Canadians.

The native speakers themselves are more often than not terrible at English, especially in writing, and obviously have no business teaching anything. Yet here they are. The Australians with serious alcoholism issues, the Americans with barely a high school education, the British sex addicts.

They drink, they party, they fuck, and they learn nothing. And, without being too crass, let’s just say they are into Asian chicks. And they generally can’t get chicks back home. You surely know what I mean.

It should be noted, however, that as China has progressed these past years the average Chinese female citizen is not so easily impressed by a white face and expects more. Time to learn some new skill sets, people.

Simply put, these guys are not TEFL-certified and the desperate shady schools that hire them are not doing a service to their students at all.


Cool English Teachers: But it’s not all bad. A lot of people take up the opportunity to move to China because they are actually interested in Chinese culture. They might go after graduation, or later in life to reinvent themselves, perhaps take advantage after a gap year of backpacking, and ESL is an easy enough job to see the world and get your foot in the door in China.

They might party, but that’s not all they do. With more long-term plans in mind, they learn Mandarin and can eventually get jobs in other fields. Then there are the very long-term expats who settle down here and raise families as well.

Anyway, no shame in being that kind of ESL guy at all, and I for one think they are undeservedly lumped in with the losers. As for teaching, credentials aren’t everything and there are solid people out there who just have a knack. There’s my defense.

What do you think? Recognize any expat friends up there? Ever taught English yourself, where do you fall on the scale?

(Btw, a group I notice left out is the qualified international school teacher. Like, they can teach math and actually majored in teaching. That is a wholly different animal, more like the Good Businessman than anything else as far as being people with “real jobs” who just happen to work in China. With that…)

Part the second, Good Businessmen & Evil Businessmen, to be continued…