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The future of ESL 
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MES-Zealot!

Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:38 am
Posts: 128
Location: Italy
Post The future of ESL
The demand for English still seems to be increasing. You'd think that would affect employment supply and demand, but in general it doesn't seem to be resulting in improved conditions for teachers. And standards in private language schools don't seem to be improving noticeably either - far too many are profit-fixated rip-off mills.

And yet the collapse of Nova (and Opening a couple of years back in Europe) shows that there isn't an inexhaustible supply of students who'll sign up for anything, regardless of the quality.

Where do you see this heading? Any thoughts about what the private sector of ESL might look like in five years time? Will quality eventually become the norm, or are we doomed to see the get-rich-quick outfits set the tone for the industry?

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 7:47 am
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
Post 
Hard to say ...

I think it's getting better over here. At least where I am, I've been getting students from other schools and the parents have said they heard good things about my school. They said their kids went somewhere else for 3 years and can't speak at all. They were just doing vocabulary after vocabulary lesson with nothing in between. While that seems to be the norm, many smaller English conversation are really doing a great job.

The paying customers are looking for alternatives and realising English 'conversation' classes aren't necessarily just fun and games. They are expecting some progress, as they should. I also think they are starting to recognize there is a difference between schools but I don't think they know what they should be looking for.

The reason for the lack of quality in my mind is a lack of teacher training. That could be the fault of the industry, in that most places don't require any experience nor any training. There's also the high turn over rate possibly due to the fact that the job isn't promoted as a career move, but instead as a one year holiday. Not to exclude ourselves, responsibility also lies on the teachers to get training and help their students.

Like you said, there's still more demand than supply. The demand for schools and teachers is so high that people will just take what's closest to them or easiest to get to as far as commute and time. That may be some new school that just popped up with an untrained teacher, no curriculum, and expensive fees...

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Tue Mar 25, 2008 8:38 am
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MES-Zealot!

Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
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Dare I say it but there will continue to be people who see a quick profit because they can easily manipulate parents concerned about the welfare of their children. In highly competitive societies this is more of a problem. It is easy for a con-artist to explain to parents that their children need more time in the school to really see benefits and so they should sign up for another year. It is also difficult for a parent to admit to another parent that they have made a mistake and forked out money for something that is of little value and so word of mouth about poor places doesn't travel.

As for it being a career. In Japan there has been no change in ALT's salaries since the start of the programme 20 years ago and private English teachers seem to be paid the same here as when we were here back then. Either we were paid exceptional money then or .... There also seems to be little extra for more qualified teachers or language specialists. They probably have the pick of jobs and hopefully do a better job but qualifications don't always make a better teacher!!

I personally am here for a sabbatical and for my own kids. Doesn't mean I slack off or have a holiday but the lower level of pressure is certainly appreciated for a while, but conversely the lack of control over what I do can be frustrating. I will however go back to a teaching job and continue my career path.


Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:23 am
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MES-Zealot!

Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:38 am
Posts: 128
Location: Italy
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From the teacher's point of view, I think being totally dependent on a basic private language school employer or on a low-paying high-demand state education job can be worrying and dispiriting, especially when you're no longer on the partying side of 30.

Obviously there are numerous ways forward from that position, but what I don't get is why in so many countries, the average ESL teacher's experience of work is only one step up from flipping burgers. English is now widely considered to be a necessary skill for acquiring prosperity and security, but teachers are still being given the message that they're an unvalued disposable resource. How many talented teachers leave ESL in order to get "a proper job"? It's crazy.

OK. Rant over. I'll shut up now.

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Fri Mar 28, 2008 8:46 pm
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