The Guardian TEFL have returned to their old ways. After publishing some interesting articles, one about problems with IELTS (International English language testing System) and two similar but separate articles about the role of English in Uganda and Malaysia, the last two months have seen them reverting to their trademark advertorials. Apparently, if you want to get on in the world of business, you should spend a year teaching TEFL in China, Japan or Taiwan. While you are there you can make friends, learn about new cultures and master a foreign language. The perfect addition to your CV and an excellent way to escape the recession.
Guardian TEFL is renowned for publishing this type of rubbish, which is a cosmetic exercise to disguise simple exploitation of the naive by unscrupulous language schools and related employment and teacher training agencies. These practices help drive down experienced teachers’ pay (both native and non-native teachers) and damage the quality of teaching on offer to students. As a certain “JellieAnne” points out in the comments (and we quote them in full):
Nice advertising piece for Reach To Teach in Taiwan. 😀
Grads; the main questions to ask yourselves:
1. Why are R-T-T and all the other dodgy agencies go to the expense and risk of recruiting on the other side of the world when there are legions of qualified and experienced native English teachers who already speak Mandarin (and not the mandarin you get from a year on a working holiday – um, actual functional language)? Because a bunch of unemployed grad-kids will do it for far below the going rate.
2. Why do you imagine that east Asia has escaped the global recession? Discretionary spending and corporate budgets for luxuries such as private language training have been slashed in the last year or so, causing unscrupulous language school owners to dump all their staff and replace them with non-teachers straight from school, on very low wages on exploitative and often illegal contracts. For example, in Taiwan, it is illegal to teach under 6s, or to work before you have your work permit and residency card in your hand. They won’t tell you this, but you will still be fined heavily and deported if this happens. The school owners will receive a fine and continue to hire abroad, through agencies.
3. Learning Mandarin in one year to any useful level is a fantasy and just agency bs. It takes years.
4. How much money do you expect to make? In the current climate in Taiwan, you’ll be lucky to clear £800-900 a month, before tax. Tax is 20%. You won’t save much unless you live on instant noodles, never go to pubs or travel, or live outside a major city. Any savings will be wiped out if you need to do a visa run because of problems with your papers, or you get fired. One or the other will happen, unless you are preternaturally lucky. Furthermore, hourly rates have stagnated and declined in the last decade, and that’s without taking into account inflation and the huge rise in living costs.
5. How does it benefit the children you will be teaching to have unqualified, unregulated, inexperienced foreigners who don’t speak their language, conducting their education? Would you tolerate that for your children, here in the UK? There is a considerable buy-in to this viewpoint amongst ordinary Taiwanese people, who have been ripped off for a long time by high prices for tuition with qualified English teachers, and given grads with no training, or just a daft four week course (CELTA, et al). You will be tolerated and patronised, but not welcomed.
This sounds negative, I know. Taiwan is a brilliant place, but I wish people would go there to contribute, not simply on a silly middle class gap year. It’s misguided, and everyone (the students and yourselves) are being exploited.
Very well expressed JellieAnn, we hope others will join JellieAnn in posting “pertinent” questions to the “panel of experts” when they invite your questions on Wednesday 7th October from 1pm.