Give Me Five Minutes And I’ll Tell You How To TEFL Your Way Onto TV
1. Get a TEFL certificate (not always required, but recommended)
2. Find work teaching English in China.
3. Learn some Mandarin, before Mandarin-speaking foreigner in China become commonplace.
4. Be in the right place at the right time. University campuses and expat hangouts are a good place to start.
5. Be willing to have people laugh at you.
Yes, these tips are somewhat in jest, but according to CBS News, foreigners are more and more making it onto Chinese television.
What’s the draw? One (Chinese) retiree says: “We like watching these shows because they have foreigners speaking Chinese…They show us that the world is getting smaller.” A director points out that seeing foreigners speaking Chinese makes a positive impression because it is quite naturally considered a sign of respect. Also, perhaps like many countries which get relatively few western tourists, people want to know what foreigners think of China and Chinese culture.
By the way, your Chinese does not need to be fluent: once you get your break, it’s okay if you start in Chinese, make a few funny mistakes, and then ask to speak in English: “It’s pretty funny to see foreigners with an accent” says blogger and former English teacher Ben Ross, who has appeared on tv.
A Canadian and a Frenchman, both of whom speak fluent Chinese, led the way in the talk show industry. The Frenchman now hosts talk shows which deal with foreigners’ thoughts on topics ranging from the one-child policy to fashion. The film industry is a bit harder, and usually requires fluency, but opportunities in television seem – to me anyway – plentiful.
So what are you waiting for? And how do you say “TEFL Logue” in Mandarin?