More Western elites hiring Chinese nannies and teachers with university degrees to expose their kids to the language at an earlier age
Lei Yuqing, 28, enjoyed teaching Chinese to American children while pursuing her postgraduate degree in education in the U.S.
"Many of the parents were upper class. They paid a lot of attention to their children's Chinese language learning and were very supportive of my work," said Lei, who has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Chinese language and literature.
Lei said that some Americans think that China is developing very quickly and want their children to be able to understand the language and culture as China continues to rise in the global sphere. Those with the means want their kids to be introduced to the language as early as possible.
According to a September report on mommyish.com, an American parenting website, a San Francisco business family is looking for a Chinese-speaking nanny for 0,000 a year, and many people think it is Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg because his second daughter was born in August. The job description said that the person should have three years of experience, basic medical training, a bachelor's degree, and be fluent in Chinese.
Other high-profile families such as Ivanka Trump and Jim Rogers either hired Chinese nannies or sent their kids to Chinese language schools to learn Chinese.
Recent years have seen a growing trend of elite Western parents making their children learn Chinese. Thus, there is an increasing need for Chinese teaching professionals with an advanced degree.
During her four years of teaching, Lei found that many elite American families attach great importance to learning Chinese.
She started teaching Chinese part-time at a private high school in Idaho in 2012, during the final year of her postgraduate study. There was no Chinese program at the school, and the principal hired her to create a Chinese program.
After she graduated, she moved to Indiana and taught full-time at a public school for three years. One of her fondest memories of that time was when a family invited her dinner.
"Since Chinese is a minor subject in the school, not many parents would think of inviting the Chinese teacher to their home for dinner," said Lei.
She said during the dinner, the student's parents, who were businesspeople, said he also has a brother who worked in India and that "they want both the brothers to master Chinese so that they own a big advantage in the future."
Cliff Greenhouse, president of Pavillion Agency, a domestic staffing agency in New York, told Metropolitan that his clientele is made up of high net worth families who want nannies who can speak and write proper Chinese. The Chinese-speaking nannies the company represents are well-educated with advanced degrees, many of which are teaching degrees, he said.
According to Cliff, the nannies provide educational guidance and expose the children in their care to Chinese culture, cuisine and arts. They play a role in teaching the children traditional Chinese customs, manners and partner with parents on appropriate discipline.
"Requests for Chinese speakers have been quite robust over the past 10 to 15 years. That demonstrates that this trend is no longer a fad and has taken hold as a mainstream request on par with requests for French, Spanish and Russian speakers," said Cliff. "A Chinese-speaking nanny can earn a minimum of ,000 yearly, and many salaries are well in excess of 0,000."
He said the reason for the growing demand is that more high-profile families recognize the future economic advantages their children will enjoy after mastering the primary language of the world's most populous nation. He also gave intermarriage between Americans and Chinese as another reason, noting that such families often place a high importance on exposing their child to the Chinese language and culture because it is a part of the child's heritage.