the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English

EnglishClub Blog

News and views from EnglishClub - see Archives

Asia-bound Teachers Face Airport Grammar Tests

Students worldwide unhappy

CAMBRIDGE, UK ( Friday April 1, 2011 — Foreigners travelling to Southeast Asia to teach English may soon face strict screening procedures upon arrival.

The newly-proposed measures include grammar, spelling and IQ tests, hygiene and personal grooming assessments, as well as mandatory on-the-spot drug tests utilizing state-of-the-art urine-testing kits.

The measures, proposed by education department officials in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), are intended to prevent large numbers of unemployed foreigners from countries including the US, the UK and Australia from flooding the local job market in search of employment as “native English teachers”.

ASEAN is following up on its recently-announced single visa plans. Under proposed new arrangements, foreigners wishing to teach English will be thoroughly screened both before and after arrival, but once admitted will be able to teach in any of the ten ASEAN countries (Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam).

Map of ASEAN countries

With a population of about 600 million and covering an area of 4.5 million km2, ASEAN is the world’s fastest-growing English teaching market

Under the scheme, TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) teachers from outside ASEAN will receive an Alien Teacher Fitness Certificate (ATFC).

Teacher representatives have reacted angrily to the ATFC process which starts with police background checks followed by on-the-spot tests at the airport that include basic English ability, drugs and personal hygiene. Brian Pullman of TEFLA (Teachers of English as a Foreign Language in Asia) called the procedure “degrading and racist”. Read on »