However, when I opened up its 'the slavery of teaching English', what I initially thought was going to be a humorous take on things in fact turned out to be a serious article, and quite a sobering one at that:
(EDIT - somebody must've objected to englishdroid quoting the article in its entirety, because there are only excerpts there now. There is, however, now a link to the original article itself:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/ed ... glish.html
Here is the link to the altered englishdroid page:
http://www.englishdroid.com/guestarticl ... urner.html )
The implication seems to be that for all of us not working in the better TEFL jobs e.g. in universities, we'd do better to simply "cut our losses" and go become solicitors or something instead. I'm not sure, though, if working in (alright qualifying then working in) what I do consider a "parasitic" industry par excellence (legal practice) would make me feel any better (although, admittedly, I would be financially better-off, able to get a mortgage on an apartment in a swanky part of London).
What do you think the answer is, then, that would improve the situation for everybody (wanting to remain) involved in TEFL? The easiest answer, perhaps, would be for us all to become self-employed, private teachers, but this "answer" assumes that we'd all be able to offer something substantially better than what was in the textbooks our old employers/language schools were flogging, and that the price we ourselves would be charging - higher pro rata than the salary we received, but less than the total the employer charged before taking their huge cut - would therefore be better value (probably quite a few teachers who go private continue using - or would like to continue using!- the same or similar books to those which they were using before and are thus familiar and "comfortable" with).
I suspect that a lot of 1-2-1 does not actually offer very much beyond the increased opportunities for the student to talk, and the "motivational" study tips and exhortations of the teacher (usually not a keen language learner with any proof that they do what they say), so I don't myself offer private lessons (yet!).
Regardless of who we work for, "satisfaction" for everybody involved seems to come down to "knowledge paid for". If basic
TEFL training was of a higher standard (and lenghtier duration) and expense, the salaries would surely reflect this (otherwise, people really would just go and study law instead). And higher salaries would lead to higher student expectations, which might help force some of the jackasses out of their ownership/"entreprenuerial" positions (there they are, generating opportunities and wealth for you!). The biggest advantage, however, would be that the teacher would have a (much?) better idea of what to do, might see better results, and would thus feel more fulfilled (and not be looking to anyone else for help so much).
Perhaps the further qualifications available (DELTA, MAs etc) are meant to help the teacher at least, but the fact is, they are not always of much of a standard either, and even when they are, they do not command a substantial enough increase in wages to make them appear "value enough"; nor do they get the teacher out of and away from more narrow-minded bosses or back-packing "colleagues", into a genuinely "faster track" profession and career (for that, it seems you need a PhD, and I am sure I have seen several advertisments for English lecturing positions at universities in Japan where "any discipline" will do).
Basically, any vision and genuine concerns in TEFL are always brought firmly back down to earth by the stomping feet of clay of the bosses. Nobody, for example, is going to give serious consideration to (if even capable of thought rather than finances), or pay "good" money for e.g. an original and well-thought out approach - syllabus and derived methodology(-ies, depending on the language items). The temptation to set up shop and make a quick buck quicker is just too strong. It is easier to peddle the same old same old, with tacked on so-called "scientific" or "revolutionary" methods (not much mention of truly "social" dimensions - language, practice, relationships, interdependency etc) etc. Glossy pamphleteering helps "a bundle", too.
I found this part of the article somewhat amusing:
Somewhat amusing, because:The most objectionable aspect of this industry is not, however, the misery of those who work in it, but the posturing endemic to it. Typical of this is the pretence of professional credibility that surrounds the Mickey Mouse teaching certificate most teachers possess.
When, several years ago, I rang up International House in London and said I had a degree in French and Russian from Oxford and wanted to do their TEFL course, they sniffily told me that they might perhaps 'consider' my application . . . later. The admissions tutor for the Harvard MBA programme could hardly have sounded grander; whereas all that was on offer was a passport to nowhere.
So I went to the Hammersmith & West London College, where I spent a month learning clownish 'miming techniques' and making idiotic 'flashcards' (silly bits of cardboard with little pictures on them). Comedy was never far off. Several people on the course were barely literate, and one of them was not even able to identify 'I would of gone' as incorrect. As one of the coaches said to me: 'I don't believe in half of this either. But just play the game, get your certificate, and then do what you want.'
Every year, about 14,000 innocents pay £1,000-odd to spend four or five weeks acquiring a TEFL certificate from the two main examining boards that peddle them. I won't deny that I picked up the odd trick, but I wish I'd spared myself the hassle and sent off to Thailand for a fake certificate, as a friend of mine in Paris sensibly did.
-Catherine Walter had the same kind of response when she applied to do the IH Paris RSA course (even though she'd done a second degree in linguistics and French literature, in French, at the Sorbonne).
http://www.eltnews.com/features/intervi ... ter1.shtml
-At least one teacher I have met (and I believe it was also on a CTEFLA course) WROTE ''I would of gone', or something very much like it - he too didn't know that the sound 'of' was a contraction of the auxiliary 'have', even after weeks of studying verb phrases both before (in preparatory reading) and during the course. (I think we can also assume he didn't spot any mistakes in e.g. 'Its scratching it's ass as opposed to it's head', the same as me - but I'd never have missed or written anything like 'He could of studied harder', either before and certainly not during or after a CTEFLA course. I must admit, my eyes bugged like this when I saw his writing! ).
http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/v ... php?t=2719
-Buying fake certificates, whilst "excusable" for well-educated and qualified (e.g. degrees in foreign languages and linguistics) people who take a responsible interest in the job, read up on TEFL and grammar etc, doesn't in the end help distinguish the more from the less able teachers. The obvious solution would be to have people failing much more rigorous courses, that weren't so much geared to instilling respect for THE method as bringing people up to speed with a wide range of complex and often (just seemingly?) contradictory, that is, in a word, HARD knowledge.