Hiatus Over, Thoughts on New Oriental

I have returned from China, freshly jet-lagged and also — congratulations, stalkers, here’s your newest piece of personal information to twist — engaged. Yes!

Anyway, there will be more substantive posts later, obviously, but as I shake off the throes of jet lag and prepare to plunge into what promises to be a much busier spring work schedule (fair warning — I probably won’t be able to update as much), I wanted to link to this piece on Jenny Zhu’s blog because I find it pretty fascinating. Talking about the massive training school New Oriental [新东方], she writes,

Speaking of jokes, New Oriental is famous for its team of ‘edutainers’ who have mastered the art of engaging students. It is even said that the school partly evaluates teachers on the number of times they make students laugh during a class. Funny as it was, what really resonated with me is the teacher’s point of the lasting effect of GMAT prep, or in his words ‘America’s silent revolution in China’. He said that to do well in GMAT, Chinese students need to reverse their ways of thinking, namely to learn to think critically. To question, to reason and to separate facts from opinions are counter-intuitive for a Chinese student. But when they are exposed to these skills as young adults, there is no going back. According to the teacher, during his 10 years at New Oriental, only 10% of students end up going to business schools in the U.S. But regardless of the path they choose, the way they see the world is changed. They are not easily fooled anymore. That’s America’s silent revolution in China.

I find this interesting because it very much flies in the face of what I heard from a close friend who was employed as a New Oriental teacher for a brief time last year before quitting out of frustration. I can’t quote her directly as I have discovered recently that some readers of this site are attempting to use details from it to sabotage my personal life (incompetently!) and I don’t want to bring any friends into that; suffice it to say that the picture of New Oriental she painted was not one of free-wheeling “edu-tainers” engaged in teaching critical thinking skills. I’m curious, then, as to whether anyone else here has experience with New Oriental as a teacher or a student, and if so, what their experiences were.

(Apologies for the short and informal post. More coming soon, but there are some things I need to take care of and a lot of news I need to catch up on before I can dig into something more juicy than this…)

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0 thoughts on “Hiatus Over, Thoughts on New Oriental”

  1. Actually I think it is just the opposite. Remember the Tibetan riots in 3/2008? I recall that in many Western countries that many Overseas students were protesting against their government of how the Media handled this situation. I think that many Chinese Students studying overseas got less favorable impression of their host countries once when they get there.

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  2. I work in education and have been to quite a few New Oriental schools across China and sat in on quite a few classes. Overall, their teachers are of a very high standard, quite entertaining and fairly American in style. To describe it as Americanization of thinking is pushing it a bit far – it certainly does not offer a liberal arts education. New Oriental is a well branded cram school, that puts aside education (either traditional or critical), and focuses primarily on exam preparation and teaching students tricks and techniques that will enhance their exam results (GRE, GMAT, TOEFL, IELTS etc). In certain circumstances an engaged critical style will be useful and gain an exam candidates additional points in say an IELTS essay, hence New Oriental teaches that too. It’s a mix of motivation, entertainment and exam prep. The entertainment side can liven things up, take students’ attention away from the fact they are sitting in a class of 50-500 and get zero personal attention or opportunity to express themselves. It also keeps student’s motivated and focused. New Oriental is quite well run, very well branded and has a solid business model. With that many students in a class, they certainly need something special.

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  3. It depends on the class category. New Oriental has a class for business English which has the main goal of teaching the students enough to pass the required English test. These are huge classes of 200+ students. Also there is the fact that after a certain point quality control becomes very hard.
    I would also not call it an American revolutionary idea to ask students “why do you think that?” or “why is that what it is?”. It is just not the memorize everything learning system China has had forever. If anything it is a French Enlightenment silent revolution.

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  4. What? I’ve worked for these guys for three years on and off.
    The teachers teach for the test and tell the students what to think and say and then the teachers go take the exams and report back to the school what is on the tests.
    It’s a pack-em-in-cram-school peppered with jokes to keep your salary decent while students cram-memorize what is needed… but that’s what Mama and Baba pay for and 新东方学校 give the customer exactly what he/she wants…
    A passing grade.

    The jokes are added because students evaluate teachers and your pay is tied to you evaluations.
    So you got to make them like you as students in general don’t know what is a good teacher.

    Singing dancing clowns get better evaluations (in general) than strict focused teachers.
    The teacher turnover is high because of this. Major burnout!
    The evaluations are usually carried out in their second last or last class.

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