I’ve never attended a training session that helped me develop my character.
Teaching skills? Sure. Technical, training and interpersonal skills? Also yes. But in 15 years I’ve never seen a workshop on improving as a person, or ethical considerations within the TEFL industry.
At first, it appears unnecessary – most teachers genuinely care about their students, and their work. That’s why they’re teachers.
Have you ever asked a teacher trainer exactly how they became a trainer? What answer did you get? I’m sure it was rather long and full of ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’. At least mine was, when the charming pair at the TEFL Training Institute interviewed me as part of their podcast on the same topic. That chat inspired me to plan what I’d do if I started all over again...
What will happen to private language schools as English becomes taught more as a universal skill in schools around the world? The simple answer is that no-one can tell you for certain – but we can make some logical predictions, based on industry trends.
Some would say it’s already changed. It used to be that if you were a language student, you had to come to us, the experts. Language schools, teachers, and course books were the gatekeepers that controlled access to knowledge. It used to be that you had to come through us if you wanted to learn a language.
Well, for starters, academic professional development shouldn’t suck. So if you’re an academic manager wondering how to keep your teachers interested in professional development (PD), or a teacher in charge of your own PD, keep reading.
In today’s world, managing by data is happening in every industry, in every organization. Collecting data is addictive, as it gives a sense of control.
The language teaching world is also not immune to this.
We should be teaching learners the skills they need to learn a language, not just the language itself. Where students are too young to understand this, we should be motivating them to want to ‘do stuff’ at home in English.
Let’s be honest, as an industry to choose a career in, the TEFL industry does have a train-wreck of a reputation.
It’s easy to see why; a low barrier to entry combined with world travel (i.e. escapism) seemingly provides a path for people to escape their current troubles and start afresh.
It’s a decision every language school owner makes, consciously or not. Do you focus on making a short-term profit, or on building an excellent brand?
Data is not a dirty word.
Data can improve your school, your students’ experience and your teaching performance.
Data identifies longer term trends about you and your students which you can use to inform your teaching and managing, and become a better TEFL teacher.
Which are the most important figures to look at?
As a language school customer, once I’ve paid my money I have some demands you need to meet.
Fail to meet them, and I’ll go spend my money someplace else. I’ll probably bad mouth you to all my friends on and offline, too.
Even though you may love TEFL teaching, at some point reality will punch you in the face. Staying as a teacher won’t necessarily give you the salary you need as you get older, especially if you want to buy a home, get married, and have a family, and have a pension.