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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 8:10 am    Post subject: We're not alone Reply with quote

And there was me thinking that we were a special case.

http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/job/viewtopic.php?t=13934&postdays=0&postorder=asc&start=0

Seems Germany has the same prbolem with big schools keeping wages low by hiring wandering 'teachers'.

And I was planning to take trips to Germany to earn proper money. Hah, foiled again.

Come on folks, put your heads together. What can we do to make these schools pay us a decent wage? Strike?
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zaneth



Joined: 31 Mar 2004
Posts: 545
Location: Between Russia and Germany

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We could start our own, with the intention of paying teachers a living wage.

But then we'd probably decide that the other schools had the right idea all along.

Vote with your feet, but that's easy for me to say.
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Communist Smurf



Joined: 24 Jun 2003
Posts: 330
Location: San Francisco

PostPosted: Tue Nov 23, 2004 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't have to start your own school. Just don't work for the money grubbers anymore. Work free-lance as much as possible. If they want to pay you wandering-teacher fees, they all they'll get are wandering-teachers. If you consider yourself a professional, start acting like one.
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Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh boy!
Here we go again with the "we're being paid slave wages" and "how can they get away with it" nonsense.
To repeat what I've already said in some other thread:
1 TEFL teachers make a hell of a lot more than state school teachers, even though they're practically unqualified in comparison. Now, those guys really do have the right to complain!
2 Large language schools supply visas and accomodation. As teachers don't see any of this money, they forget the expense involved is part of the cost to the school of employing a foreign teacher. So, although a teacher may 'only' take home 600 dollars a month, he/she is really being paid over a thousand bucks a month. I know a tube driver in London makes more than this, but you have to judge a salary in a country by what the locals make, not by what you'd make in your home country for doing the same job.
3 Yes, off-contract guys make a lot more than contracted guys in Moscow, and most teachers who stay in Moscow for a while take the off-contract road for that reason Good luck to them!
However, arriving in Moscow on a tourist visa, with no contacts, and trying to immediately set yourself up as an off-contract teacher would be pretty difficult.

On a new note, the German thread is indeed interesting. Those guys really are paid buttons. It beings me back to my six years in Barcelona trying to make ends meet on a 1000 euro per month salary. After I'd paid accomodation, bills and bought some food, there wasn't all that much left to play around with. In fact, even on a contract salary in Moscow, I saved a hell of a lot more there than I ever could in Spain.
Western Europe in general, I think, is a saturated market, and best avoided.
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phillip Donnelly wrote:
Large language schools supply visas and accomodation...

...he/she is really being paid over a thousand bucks a month...


I think a lot of people would disagree with that entirely. The cost hardly adds up to $1000/month for a year-long contract, and in any case this is not a particularly great wage in Moscow.

Visa support costs are negligible (do they refund the consulate/embassy fees?), and yes, accommodation is expensive, but not everyone gets it, and do those who opt for their own accommodation get any benefits?

I know for a fact that one school in Saint Petersburg pays from $100 to $150 per month for a room in a family flat, and charges the teachers between $200 and $300 for it.

To compare the wages paid to foreign teachers with those paid to locals makes no sense. Native Russians generally have lower living costs for a start. Native English speakers may be lower qualified, but have 100% fluent English (give or take a few inadequacies), which can't be said of all Russian teachers. Do you expect native speakers to work in Russia for local wages, while dodging militsia and struggling with the usual problems that besiege foreigners?

While schools are not trying particularly hard, the market in Russia is not saturated by any means. Demand is high, but wages are still low for the same reasons that were posted in the German thread.

Some quick calculations will show up the difference between fees taken from a class and wages paid to the teacher. Are you saying that just because Russians work for less, we have no right to complain? If Russians are happy to work for those wages, that's their business. The fact is that we're not satisfied with the wages from big schools, but we have to put up with it because they control the market.

The people who have most right to complain are the dedicated teachers who rough it out here through thick and thin, not just for the money, but because they're appalled by the Soviet standards of English teaching that prevail in Russia, and want to make a difference. Russian teachers who want to be paid more ought to work on their English for a start (no offence anyone, I do know a few who pass for natives, despite never having been out of the country- they have my deepest respect), and get up to date with modern use of the language, and modern approaches to teaching, rather than burying their heads in the Great Soviet Sandpit and claiming that their English is 'right'.

Maybe schools should be more honest with their students, and set lesson prices according to the teacher in charge (after all, teachers are paid according to qualification) and the type of lesson he teaches. An unqualified beginner teacher might not be able to explain all the intricacies of the perfect tenses, but with the right attitude and the right approach he should be able to do a lot to improve pronunciation, idiomatic expression, beat out some typical Russian mistakes, expand vocabulary and improve overall fluency. He can do a lot which (most) Russian teachers cannot. Higher wages are justified.

In the UK, and I'm sure the same goes in plenty of other EU countries, you could expect a native language teacher to be paid a good deal more than a local teacher, so why not in Russia?
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Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's try to break down the costs:

Salary 600-725

I think BKC has just given a 50 dollar per month pay rise. As for the other schools, I don't know, but it's probably something similar.

Accomodation 300

This is the extra amount IH give teachers who find their own accomodation. It has also increased a lot recently, as IH could well do without the cost of finding and maintaining accomodation. Again, I can't say for sure what other schools do, but I tihnk EF insist teachers find their own accomodation.

Visa Fees ?
IH do repay consular and visa fees. However, I'm not sure what the total cost is. Whatever it is, divide it by nine (not 12, as it's a 9 month contract), and factor that in.

Flight reimbursement 60-100
That's 600-1000 dollars per nine-month contract, so divide by nine again.

The total comes to about 1000 dollars per month.


[Do you expect native speakers to work in Russia for local wages]

No, I don't. However, I would ask underqualified TEFL teachers to remember their overqualified and grossly underpaid Russian counterparts eeking out a living on about a fifth what they makes. Teachers should also remember that the Russian Director of the school they're working in might well be earning less than they are.

[Demand is high, but wages are still low]
Wages are what the market dictates-no more, no less. Moreover, the only way to dramatically increase them is to framatically increase student fees. Only the elite schools, like the British Council, can do this as there is a very limited of students prepared to pay their colossal fees.



[/Some quick calculations will show up the difference between fees taken from a class and wages paid to the teacher. ]

Show me these calculations. However, don't forget to factor in the cost of administration, training, rent etc etc.


[Are you saying that just because Russians work for less, we have no right to complain? If Russians are happy to work for those wages, that's their business]

No, of course I'm not saying that. I don't imagaine Russians are happy to work for peanuts, but what options have they got? Leave teaching, I guess, or work for an international school or language academy. Believe me, for every 22 year old native speaker teacher griping about inadequate salary, I'm sure there are armies of state school teachers only too eager to take their place, if they could.

[/In the UK, and I'm sure the same goes in plenty of other EU countries, you could expect a native language teacher to be paid a good deal more than a local teacher, so why not in Russia?]

What absolute Rubbish! IH London, for example, pay about 12 pounds an hour for a DELTA qualified teacher. State school teachers probably make triple that. In Western Europe native speaker teachers working in academies invariably earn a great deal less that native teachers working in the state sector. It's only in non-first world countries that TEFLers earn more.

[The people who have most right to complain are the dedicated teachers who rough it out here through thick and thin, not just for the money, but because they're appalled by the Soviet standards of English teaching that prevail in Russia, and want to make a difference. Russian teachers who want to be paid more ought to work on their English for a start ]

TEFL teachers "rough it out" only in comparison to the life they would be living back home. Compared to the average Russian, they lead somewhat of a pampered lifestyle.[/quote]
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2004 12:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Phillip Donnelly wrote:
What absolute Rubbish! IH London, for example, pay about 12 pounds an hour for a DELTA qualified teacher. State school teachers probably make triple that. In Western Europe native speaker teachers working in academies invariably earn a great deal less that native teachers working in the state sector. It's only in non-first world countries that TEFLers earn more.


Sorry, I didn't make that clear. I had in mind foreign language teachers.

I've never worked at BKC, in fact I've never worked in Moscow. My viewpoint is based on the schools I worked with in Saint Petersburg, who, to the best of my knowledge, don't offer accommodation reimbursement (or didn't when I worked there, nor did they offer airfare.) to teachers, contract or no contract. Maybe they only do so when your visa (invitation around $20 through one SPb school, without working for them) is dependent on the school, so I won't debate those figures- you've got me there.

As it happens, I'm about to send a few friends out to research the hourly (lesson) rates for businesses here. I'll try to get the general lesson rates and teachers' rates for a few schools and we'll work out the difference. It may well prove you right.

Yes, 'roughing it' is compared to life 'back home', but 'roughing it' will appeal more to backpackers than to professionals, so schools will get what they pay for. It's a silly myth that all Russians live in squalor. Yes, while Mr. 22-year-old CELTA hero should think of the underpaid Russian teachers, he might also take heart in knowing that he is being paid not for his qualifications, but for his (hopefully) superior knowledge of the language. Sadly, being highly qualified as a teacher (even for a native) doesn't guarantee a high level of proficiency.

I don't know what level of English the Russian teachers degree guarantees, but I think it's the reason why...

Phillip Donnelly wrote:
I'm sure there are armies of state school teachers only too eager to take their place, if they could.


...they can't. And unless they become native speakers overnight, they won't. I'd love to be the managing director of my company, but I can't.

Like I said, though I know a few teachers here who would almost get away without detection behind 'enemy lines' (and I just remembered one guy who successfully passed off as a native, even fooling other teachers, though he had lived abroad for a while) a lot of the rest have some pretty funny ideas about English.

I have a losing battle with one woman who picks up titbits of Soviet English at home from her son's homework tasks. She is very capable, but answers tests according to what she sees when she helps her son with his homework. Perhaps she assumes that the state teacher is better qualified than I, and so is more an authority on the language. I've been hit with, "I'm about to graduate as a teacher, from the State Pedagogical University!" when correcting a horrendous mistake from my girlfriend's soon-to-be-let-loose-as-a-teacher friend.

Local teachers probably have an infinitely better approach (and the advantage of Russian as their native tongue) for teaching at lower levels, and undoubtedly would blast all the 22-year-olds put together into oblivion, but from there on a good native teacher is worth a whole division of bespectacled Tatianas (sorry for the stereotype) who defiantly insist that natives don't speak English 'right'.

If you've ever tried to correct a student who always comes back defiantly and triumphantly with the retort, "But our teacher said us..." you'll know that we're not here to think about the welfare of Russian teachers, but to do a job and to give our students the skills that they are paying for.
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Phillip Donnelly



Joined: 24 Mar 2004
Posts: 43

PostPosted: Sat Nov 27, 2004 1:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, we seem to be moving into the different issue of whether native speaker teachers are better than Russian ones.
I think you have a point that many Russian teachers are often overtrained in grammar and have inadequate spoken English skills. However, things are much worse in Thailand, my current location, where Thai teachers seem to range from elementary to intermediate, at best. Their pronunciation is even worse.
I suppose you're also right in saying that TEFL teachers are being paid more for their usually superior knowledge of English. However, we must also remember that Russians seem to put a premium on being taught by a native speaker, not only because their command of English is higher, but also because they believe native teachers to possess superior teaching qualifications.
While a CELTA will achieve a lot, I don't think the average Russian student would be too impressed if they knew their teacher only had one month's training. I remember trying to impress a class with my DELTA, but when they found out the course can be done in two months, they were horrified!
On a different note, I never really had the problems you mentioned with students insisting their 'Soviet English' is 'right' and my English is 'wrong'. On the other hand, many of them did try and insist their mistakes were actually correct American usage, and not being American, I was incapable of proving otherwise! I think it was a face saving thing, actually, and much more common among suited business types.
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bobs12



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 310
Location: Saint Petersburg

PostPosted: Mon Nov 29, 2004 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I fully agree there, especially about X-ELTA generic qualifications not really being so impressive if you actually tell them how long they took to obtain. But then again, how much does training help in being a teacher? I have the impression that CELTA centres on stereotypical classroom teaching and doesn't deal with the wide variety of situations that a teacher faces. Does it deal with different learning 'personalities', and how to deal with them in one-to-one or small group sessions, and how to make exercises and plan long term courses (12 months and over) for them? And how to adapt your approach for different situations in general? Not a rhetorical question. If it does, I'll drop my prejudice and take a course next summer. I could do with a bit of that.

I don't blame students for being unimpressed with one- and two-month courses. When I was looking up information on EFL courses, the specifics of the course contents and objectives seemed in places to be as grey and woolly as the industry itself. One trainer explained to me that CELTA dosn't prove you can teach, but rather that you have the potential, i.e. the necessary skills, to become a teacher. Now there's a limited liability clause if ever I heard one. I plan to take a DELTA next year, and I just hope it will be worth the money.

I think that it's difficult to rate teachers as 'better' or 'worse' than one another, but no amount of cutting-edge (no pun intended) methodology can make up for bad English. Look at it another way- if a teacher has some great methodology that makes students learn and remember absolutely everything, do you really want him to be teaching bad English? I'd much rather have my students exposed to correct (or at least natural) English from a 'poor' teacher. I think that's where the wage differences are justified.

I worked in Finland with a Russian teacher who'd been on some training course in London. I can't remember the name of the organisation, but the course seemed to be on some fancy-schmancy methodology. She assumed herself to be an authority not only on how to teach, but also on the language itself.

She tried to hijack a couple of lessons, attempting to persuade me that I 'had to' use her absurd methods (things like repeating the last word of every sentence three times. Are you mad, mad, mad?) which were totally inappropriate, even embarrassing, for group of adult women I was working with. She even tried to tell me that people do not 'give' presents, but rather 'present' them, and that the stress on the noun is the same as on the verb.

Not all Russian teachers deserve to be beaten with the same stick, but I think that modern English learners do need a practical, confidence-inspiring approach along with contemporary English for real-life communication. The best sources for that are native speakers and cable TV.
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travellingscot



Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Posts: 64
Location: UK/Eastern Europe

PostPosted: Tue Dec 14, 2004 7:14 am    Post subject: Similar story here Reply with quote

Not having posted for many months for various reasons,i was pleased to see that i'm not alone either. I've been working in Bulgaria for a year and found many similarities to yourselves,added to which is the "Interesting" fact that many of my students have been taught English by a Russian teacher !
Language schools here do not even pay a native speaker much more if anything,as they can get a local teacher instead and don't often care about anything other than money. I partly blame the students however,as many of those i speak to just look for the cheapest school-their poor financial situation is the reason given.
I have heard stories from students about being able to buy qualifications from poorly paid lecturers,using cash or other means if female,so there is a culture of not valuing education.I have worked with teachers who gave students maximum marks because "I didn't want to spoil their diploma", and then became the bad guy because i refused to do the same.
As a newcomer to teaching i am still not put off by all this,as i expect there are different problems in every country,but it would be nice if our skills were valued more.When someone who has been teaching here for 2 years (Bad language school,but all levels from beginner to advanced) couldn't understand how i could teach English without speaking their language,i understood just how big a gap there was between us.
I could go on for ages but i'm sure you know the story.
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