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Life on Lockdown: ‘Teachers need to share bad experiences’ – Andre

Life on Lockdown: ‘Teachers need to share bad experiences’ – Andre

The Coronavirus lockdown isn’t easy on anyone… But in this series, we take a look at the positive ways in which some across the community are spending their time on lockdown. Let’s continue to keep those affected by the Coronavirus most in our thoughts.

Andre Roberts, Hungry English CEO, Beijing

“My message to anyone struggling with the lockdown, related school payment issues and other things is to join WeChat Legal Services groups, which exclusively focus on the laws relating to foreigners and the steps they can take to claim what is rightfully theirs…This Coronavirus situation won’t be judged by where you were when it happened, but what you did with the extra time you were off, make it count!”

Andre Roberts first came to China in 2015 as an English teacher, although his background is in Business Development.

“I chose to teach because I find it a lot like sales, sharing value with someone so that they can use it in the future.”

For Andre, founder of English teaching app Hungry English, the lockdown has exposed malpractice in training centres across China. From withheld wages to threats about cancelling visas, Andre has used his platform to create a user-submitted list of schools and training centres (available here – that allegedly participate in underhand tactics. He hopes the list will help new teachers and seasoned ones alike to make informed decisions about their next employers.

Read on for his full story 

The foundation of Hungry English 

“Whilst teaching in China I quickly learnt of the inherent discrimination toward anyone who was not white or didn’t come from (what is regarded here as) a native speaking country. I also noticed the desire of parents to find passionate and enthusiastic teachers in their area at reasonable rates. Thus my company Hungry English was born.”

“How would I explain it in 3 words? Didi for Education.”

The common challenges whilst teaching in China

“Discrimination is probably the most widely known challenge that teachers of colour face. This happens for a number of reasons, but most common is that they simply don’t trust in our abilities. So we find ourselves having to work twice as hard in order to show that we are worthy of the pay we requested. It still amazes me how some people can get very high paying teaching jobs with minimal qualifications, whilst those of colour with teaching degrees, years spent in English speaking countries and practical hands-on experience are turned away.”

Exposing bad practice in training centres and schools

“As I have found, there are really passionate educators out there who get poorly treated by schools and training centres. No pay, withholding information, bullying and of course discriminatory practices. The list is important to me because of the lack of foreign teacher representation in China. My original purpose for my app was to have a standardised portal where educators could be assessed by teaching skill as opposed to skin colour or ethnicity. Now with the realisation that we are massively underrepresented and without means to voice our experiences, it became a priority to make this list. Especially now.”

“Teachers should share their experiences in order to ensure that others can learn and be appropriately warned. Our mission is a simple one, to provide a level playing field for educators and students of all types to find what they are looking for, an amazing learning experience. Thus the list is a resource to learn from and at the same time a signal to others that in all things we should be fair. Getting those experiences shared will put people on notice, that times are changing and we are moving forward.”

(Just one example of the countless teaching horror stories shared on Hungry English’s platform- list available here:

Bad practices related to Coronavirus

“A lot of the bad practices have included refusal to pay appropriate salaries, unfair dismissals and documents being held by schools. Most recently I was informed of a teacher in a situation where the school has closed down, the owner had run off with the money and naturally didn’t pay any of the staff.”

“These are just some of the bad practices, but my goal is to at least provide the space for people to anonymously get their bad experiences told so that others downfall into the same trap.”

The impact of Coronavirus on Hungry English

“As with a few of the different online course providers, we have seen an uptick in the number of people taking online classes. What makes us unique is that we help users of our app to be in control of their own availability and rates. Which means that given the lockdown, we have seen upticks in sign-ups both from education providers, as well as education buyers. At the same time, we have worked with other content providers to give useful advice during the lockdown period.”


“There is a lesson I learned while out here, which kind of drove me to create this app and take this journey: Our excuses are our own. No matter how much we try to convince others of how genuine our excuses are, it is only us who has to live with them. This propelled me to take action against the issues which I found most pressing.”

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