The announcement came as a shock to myself and other teachers. It happened without warning. I was preparing for the next day’s lessons at about 11:00 pm on August 4th when I saw a popup on my screen. I leaned in to read the message. It said that the GOGOKID curriculum offered to Chinese students was being suspended as of August 5th. How nice. I rushed back home from my mom’s house to prepare for my classes and get to bed only to be laid off. See, things like this are why you should never put all your eggs in one basket. I’m thankful that I have other means of generating income, but my heart goes out to my fellow teachers whose sole income source was any of the companies affected by the new China regulations.
In a sweeping overhaul of its education technology sector, China took down its booming online TEFL industry. The country cracked down on all online companies offering for-profit tutoring of subjects taught in the public school curriculum. The Chinese government said that education technology companies had been hijacked by capital and that they should start operating like non-profits. The new regulations have brought the Chinese online TEFL industry to a screeching halt. The growth of the ed-tech sector is no longer being encouraged.
Well, a lot of damage has already been done. In an effort to restructure, Magic Ears and Palfish downsized their staff and at the moment, are allowing students to complete the lessons that they purchased. Palfish also reduced teachers’ pay from an hourly base pay of 50 RMB (approx. $15.50), not including bonuses, to 40 RMB (approx. $12.40). Other companies like GOGOKID have completely shut down. It’s expected that the remaining education companies will follow suit unless they can exploit some kind of loophole. We can only wait and hope those companies give students and teachers a heads up should they decide to close shop. In the meantime, teachers with no other income streams should start searching for companies that are not based in China, such as Cambly or Outschool.
I’m sure many of the children are overjoyed at not having to learn English. However, there are many that are absolutely devastated. Videos of some GOGOKID students crying uncontrollably circulated within TEFL teacher groups. The sudden cancellation of all classes and the inability to log into their accounts came as a surprise to them, too. We were not given the opportunity to say “Goodbye” to our kiddos. Now, teachers and students are trying to search for each other on WeChat. Some teachers and students have successfully reunited. Others are still working on it.
Maybe the online TEFL industry will be resurrected in the future. Only time will tell.
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