Are ESL Job Sites To Blame For Unsavory Schools?

The topic of ESL or EFL job sites as the cause of the tefl world’s woes comes up every now and again. Should job sites take responsibility for screening job ads? Should they remove them if there are complaints? And are they responsible for the proliferation of “lemon” EFL jobs if they don’t?

Well, no, to the last one.

These are hard questions to answer – to the first one, given the global nature of EFL work, I think it would be impossible in practical terms to screen jobs well enough to make any difference, and if it could be done, would leave us only with a small selection of schools that could provide whatever the site required.

And it wouldn’t solve the problem of bad employers anyway, as school staff – not just teachers – come and go. I think the fact that a variety of ads are available for comparison is a huge benefit to EFL teachers, and the existence of multiple sites is much better than the existence of one all-powerful one.

Should job ads be removed or refused if there are complaints? I think there is a fair enough argument for this, if the complaints are well-documented and presented, and especially if they are from different sources. One difficulty is obviously that it is hard to ensure the veracity of a complaint (ie that the teacher is telling the truth): in a field so based on Internet exchange of information, there are plenty of reasons which a dishonest person might manufacture a story (to get back at someone, to hurt a competitor). Another problem is that a truly “bad” school can just lie to get around whatever restriction there is…advertise with a different name (or no name) and alternate contact information. I don’t think this happens frequently, but a school bad enough to merit a serious complaint is exactly the kind of school that would lie to get around a given restriction. Claiming that jobs are screened could very well lull people into a false sense of security.

The moral of this post, I suppose, is that I don’t agree that job sites somehow play an accomplice role to schools from the dark side – keep your wits about you when searching and use more than one site. Think hard about accepting a job in any form other than in person, and check out the questions to ask at an interview while you’re at it.