Signs Of A Bad School, Part 2

What’s not so spot on: This is part 2 of my thoughts on Consider Your Teaching Job Carefully: Bad English Language Schools Can Happen To Good Teachers at Transitions Abroad. Find out what I think is spot on and also what you can do if you find yourself working for a school that treats you badly.

I’d like to point out in advance that while I don’t necessarily think schools taking the following actions are great, I think setting criteria by which to judge schools is serious and in my book, the following points are just not realistic signs of a bad school. What are the signs of a bad school? It may not be as easy to say as we’d all like, but stay tuned for more on this topic.

“Teachers have found themselves homeless in foreign countries, unable to speak the language, penniless after having spent all their money for plane fare and other preparatory expenses, having no place to go and no idea of how to get anywhere safe.”

I think this vastly mischaracterizes the situation. Some schools absolutely do lie sometimes and take advantage of foreign teachers, however teachers are adults and not lost puppies or victims of human trafficking; most are from western countries and have access to relatives at home, credit cards, and a college education. If you have no idea “how to get anywhere safe”, you shouldn’t go abroad. Teachers may lose money and gain frustration at bad schools…but more common is that the teacher just puts up with it all and feels unhappy about it.

“If the owner or DoS requires that, along with your application, you send lesson plans or other things for which you would normally be paid after you are hired… walk away.” In my experience, it is quite normal for a school to require – in person – a demo lesson, and a lesson plan is part of this. I’ve been asked and have given detailed written information on how I would deal with a certain grammar point or classroom issue and found nothing sketchy about it at all.

While a lesson plan is valuable to you as a teacher who will use it to teach a class…it’s hard for me to imagine a school benefitting from the lesson plan of a teacher new enough to need advice like this. I don’t think the worst schools are plotting how to get free lesson plans from inexperienced teachers, and teachers aren’t generally paid for lesson plans – they’re paid for teaching. Certainly don’t send money or original documents ahead, but I don’t think asking for a lesson plan signifies a bad school.

“Specifying that this [four-week TEFL certificate] must be a CELTA—and only a CELTA—is highly questionable.”

While people might disagree about whether the CELTA is better than the rest and feel that a school that is requiring it is being unfair…schools get to set their own qualification requirements. Though it might represent the school trying to take what it assumes is a shortcut to ensuring quality control, I don’t think it’s a sign of a “dangerous” school.