Cross-Cultural Management of Foreign Teachers in Chinese Colleges

By Yao, Lanzhi; Lu, Haiping | International Forum of Teaching and Studies, January 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

Cross-Cultural Management of Foreign Teachers in Chinese Colleges


Yao, Lanzhi, Lu, Haiping, International Forum of Teaching and Studies


[Abstract] As part of the higher education internationalization process, recruitment of foreign teachers is an important way for colleges to learn about progress in science and technology and about overseas teaching methods. It is also an important way to achieve internationalization in disciplinary construction and personnel training. In recent years, the number of foreign teachers engaged in teaching and research work has grown rapidly in different colleges in China. Foreign teachers come from different countries, ethnic and racial groups, which makes cross-cultural management of foreign teachers particularly important for colleges in China. This article lists the problems in the process of management and sets out preliminary work and exploratory research aimed at developing means of positive and effective management of foreign teachers. The challenge for colleges is how to manage foreign teachers so that their different cultural backgrounds can be used to extend and develop teaching and scientific research and promote these institutions' international development.

[Keywords] cross-cultural management; colleges; foreign teachers; teacher training; international study in higher education; foreign teachers; internationalization of education; management of foreign instructors.

The foreign teachers employed at colleges and universities in China come from different national and cultural backgrounds. As individuals, they speak different languages, with different accents, and have different educational backgrounds, religious beliefs, and values. They are also of different ages and experience. The ability to understand, communicate and co-ordinate with such diverse cultural backgrounds is essential for a college to make efficient use of this important resource in helping achieve its overall academic and institutional aims. Cross-cultural management will, therefore, always be an important factor for a university in the process of developing internationalization.

Edward Taylor the founder of British cultural anthropology, proposed: "culture is a complex whole, including knowledge and belief, art, morals, law, custom, and all abilities and habits the human attain in the society." "Cross-cultural conflict" refers to various forms of cultural or cultural factors that are contradictory or mutually exclusive.

This article examines the work and life of foreign teachers in Chinese universities in the context of their different cultures and concepts. It refers to the experience of foreign teachers in teaching management and day-to-day life and sums up the cross-cultural conflicts foreign teachers face. Finally, it suggests measures that may help to overcome some of these difficulties.

The Cross-cultural Conflicts Foreign Teachers Face

The Conflict of Values and Self-Worth Realization

Different cultures and values cause different patterns of behavior that will be reflected clearly in teaching and management. Chinese teachers engaged in foreign language teaching will base their activities on the course syllabus and plan teaching activity according to the characteristics of Chinese students learning styles and the teaching task. Foreign teachers, however, often carry on familiar learning habits and teaching experience from their home countries. They devote themselves to the teaching environment. The Chinese textbooks and the teaching syllabus for them are simply used for guidance and reference. Their individualized teaching practices are augmented by adding their own personalities, knowledge, and experiences. Their flexible approach to the curriculum plan gives them more freedom and fewer rules and results in a lack of step-by-step process and systematic content with clear objectives. Foreign teachers also have very different evaluation methods compared with Chinese teachers. These differences can lead to students' and teachers' psychologically ungrounded feelings. Students may feel they have not learned anything solid, but are still expected to perform well when the examination comes to them. …

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