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Don’t do it.

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This was going to be another fulminating rant about the status quo in EFL, but honestly, I’m too damn tired to summon up the energy. That’s not to say I won’t have wound myself up to a fine pitch by the end, but here at the beginning, the tone is one of profound weariness. I have worked for some 14 years in EFL and it has to be the most soul-destroying, thankless task ever. The actual teaching and the students are not what I’m on about here – although they too can be a royal pain in the nethers. It’s the whole sorry industry – and for all my 14 years in the business, it has taken just 6 months for me to come to that depressing conclusion. Because you see, during the first 13 years, I worked on a full-time permanent contract with all the things that comes with – all the things that normal everyday working people are entitled to like holidays, and sick leave and access to resources and a decent space to work in and a regular salary commensurate with my contributions. Oh my, how very fortunate I was back then, and how I loved what I did. Suddenly, I was catapulted on to the sharp end of this so-called business by that by now tired old excuse: “We don’t think you fit the profile of this company. (What? It’s a language school company. I have all the qualifications required, I have all the experience and a superbly nurtured and loyal team of teachers staunchly willing to teach whoever comes their way with skill and expertise- what do you mean “I don’t fit the profile”? What are you TALKING about?) Oh, I get it, I’m too expensive. And thus was I thrust into the cold hard world that many many people like me battle with every single day. Since pounding the streets and flogging my wares for 6 months, the most I have been offered for my services is £25 a hour and the least? Wait for it – €10 an hour. I kid you not. I have taught students in my home; I have taught in libraries and other people’s lounges; back rooms in pubs and community centres, outside in public gardens – thank God for the good weather – and all for not enough money to make the mortgage every month. Why on earth do we do this? It is a ridiculous profession to be in if you work for yourself and working for others is equally soul-destroying. Unless you have a permanent contract with a company that actually values you as a professional and an asset (chance would be a fine thing!) DO NOT DO THIS. Please, find yourself another job, do something that is recognised as worthy and stop thinking it will ever get better – it won’t. You have been warned.


3 responses »

  1. I think a better message would be “Don’t do it in the UK”, which I imagine is where you are. And most of Europe is only good for a long working holiday of a year or two. Although it’s rarely a particularly secure and well-paid job (but what is these days outside the finance sector), there are countries where you can have more job satisfaction and quality of life than you would have got in an office job back home.

    • Hi Alex, I agree that there might be a few places that still offer a better standard of life – and where native speakers still command a premium.

      But for many it’s just not realistic to jet off to, for example, Asia – if you have any kind of ties then you have to stay close to home.


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