Lemons and Low Pay

There is an interesting article and discussion on Alex Case’s TEFL tastic which I urge readers to particpate in. The article taken from the EL Gaztte discusses the reasons for TEFL classes being cheaper in real terms now than they were twenty years ago. Kind of obvious really, but worth a look.

Our thanks, of course, to Alex for hosting a discussion not seen in the mainstream media but an absolute must for current  and would be TEFL teachers.



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6 responses to “Lemons and Low Pay

  1. There are some interesting ideas over on Alex’s blog (by the way, your link is bad), though it does seem to have focused on the UK market. After reading your comments, I can say that my wage here in Spain has not risen in about 8 years….and prices here certainly have.

  2. marxistelf

    Yes Troy, all the information from around the globe that reaches us (I am based in Spain too) suggests TEFL wages have hardly risen over the past ten years and real wages have fallen considerably. Pete Wilkes’s comments on Alex’s blog came as something of a surprise therefore, almost suggesting the UK was an isolated case. Under closer inspection, however, it clearly isn’t. I agree though that it is a pity more people didn’t join the discussion and share their experiences from around the world.

  3. Brightred Ted

    I thought it was a really promising discussion. I wanted to debate more about the economic theory though. I thought the whole “lemon” thing was wrong. We need a much more sophisticated theory of how TEFL demand is being pushed by globalisation or at least the “myth of globalisation” and how major players have failed in or show litlle interest in monopolising the sector

  4. marxistelf

    Link restored, thanks Troy.
    Brightred Ted, are you saying you are disappointed that TEFL is not dominated by monopoly capitalists?
    The Cambridge and TOEFL exam systems are monopolies and they dominate the industry in all sorts of pervasive ways. I don’t think this is positive.

  5. Brightred Ted

    Of course I don’t support monopoly captalists but it surprises me that leading players in the industry have not closed ranks to squeeze competitors out and keep prices high. I think this may be due to a lack of state action in the sector and a reliance on a dubious accreditation industry where such bodies themselves are often in competition with each other (like the ludicrous examples of teacher training).
    This lack of state action, a contract between leading capitalists, may itself be owing to a fear of rising prices and calls on the state to subsidise the industry.
    I think the comical, although tragic for students, twists and turns over ESL provision in the UK shows this problem. The Government promoted English classes as an anti-terrorist measure (social cohesion), employers caught on that the state could help them with their low paid workforce and abracadabra the state found itself with a funding crisis. Lesson for the state- leave language learning to the individual pocket and those “highly competent” language academies out there.
    What we need is both proper subsidies for language learning and tighter control of language course quality, i.e, proper recognition of the experience and qualiications of trained teachers. If over 60% of teaching hours are to be taught by teachers with over 3 years experience at teaching institutions and proper mentoring schemes in place then this should encourage schools to retain experienced staff.
    Such schemes could also guarantee dissatisfied students get their money back.

  6. marxistelf

    Extremely interesting contribution as always Brightred Ted, though I’m not sure it is the job of socialist TEFL teachers to resolve management problems or strengthen the state. Rather our efforts would be better deployed winning the battle of ideas and building workplace organisations In concrete, I mean language learning should be a humanistic enterprise, developing oneself to understand and share new possibilities of thought and communication and not about being bullied by market imperatives and discriminatory practices. Moreover, the teachers teaching it should be entitled to a dignified wage and dignified working conditions (like fully remunerated preparation and travelling time, a clear pay scale representing experience and qualifications). If there is to be an accreditation system it must be placed in the hands of workers and service users.

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