From Linguistic Life: Foreign English Teachers As Products?

0130-sw_bug1.jpgA helpful reader (okay, it was the author of a blog that rhymes with ELT Totebook) drew my attention to Foreign English Teachers: Products or People? at Linguistic Life, and then I saw it referred to again at EFL Geek and couldn’t resist the urge to comment immediately (but hey, I’m not in Germany!)

The gist of the blog post in question is that the JET Program seems to be on the way out because private companies are providing what the Japanese government has been providing with JET for less, and, not surprisingly, teachers see this reflected in their salary and benefits package.

Dana at Linguistic Life goes on to express her thoughts on the general decline in TEFL situations – to put it bluntly, less interest in real teaching and professionalism and more interest in talking heads (and blond ones, preferably).

Without simply repeating my post at EFL Geek, I can just say that I agree that this is an unfortunate trend – especially when it includes schools outright lying to teachers about conditions and benefits pre-departure – but I can also see the circular nature of it. In short, as long as there are students paying for these classes and teachers willing to teach them…it’s hard to see an end.

I can deal with the claim – and it’s one I’ve made – that private language schools are a business. That doesn’t mean language school teachers earn on par with others in the “business field,” but it does mean that they are in practice often bound or limited more by the set of principles governing business or customer service than by those usually connected with education. This is just a reality. But it’s unfortunate to see that even public schools (in Japan in the case of the JET program, but I suspect eventually or maybe already elsewhere) will share this business focus.