60%: The Statistic that Shames IATEFL

IATEFL start their annual trade fair in Harrogate today; with over 300 workshops on teaching issues to give an intellectual gloss to the naked profit-making and personal self-advancement that is really going on.  Of course, many committed practitioners will also attend this conference in a genuine attempt to improve their teaching and connect with other like-minded people. The tragedy is that there are too few other opportunities for such teachers to be able to do so elsewhere. It is little wonder, therefore, that their input can be so easily diverted to disguise the sheer rottenness of IATEFL.

Our contribution to this special week is to ask teachers and students to consider how life would be different if academies, universities and schools within ELT could all claim at least 60% of their actual teaching hours were delivered by experienced and qualified teachers (say teachers with a Diploma in ELT, a PGCE or similar and/or over five years teaching experience). Many institutions can already boast this statistic but, unfortunately, so many out there can’t. Until IATEFL or whatever body address this issue and are capable of raising the threshold beyond a four-week training course, the industry will always be trapped in low pay and low standards.  We are not for one moment suggesting that new teachers not be welcomed or valued in the industry. Rather, we are saying that they should be incorporated and nurtured within a skilled and experienced peer environment.

If International House were serious about standards, it would make this 60% part of its franchise conditions. If English UK were serious about standards, it would make this part of its accreditation criteria. If the British Council were serious about standards it would make this a condition of all its schools around the globe. Unfortunately, none of these institutions, nor for that matter many of the principle speakers at IATEFL, have any real interest in raising standards. IATEFL remains a sugar coated trade fair, unable and unwilling to address the interrelated issues of pay, standards and working conditions.



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35 responses to “60%: The Statistic that Shames IATEFL

  1. Of course, if they employed professionals, they’d have to pay professional salaries – it’s not like they make the millions of pounds necessary to pay such salaries. O no, hang about, they do…

    • marxistelf

      Hi Sputnik,
      This year the walking cheesey grins which pass for IATEFL “leadership” are using the word FAMILY rather than profession (maybe through fear of prosecution under the trades description act).

      If this is a family, then everywhere one looks, one sees abuse and neglect. Someone needs to intervene to provide adequate care and support.

  2. I agree with the sentiment wholeheartedly. Why 60% though? I ask because I think you actually have an answer (personally, I just like plucking numbers out the air that sound about right, but that’s not usually the MTEFL way).

    • marxistelf

      Thanks Darren,
      The figure is indeed rather arbitary. 10 years ago The British Council (allegedly) were promoting a figure of 75% of staff having a diploma and above. The industry rejected this as unworkable. We are being “ultra-reasonable” therefore to suggest a 60-40 split where experience of over five years also counts! We could add that maybe a three star system be introduced (below sixty deserving only one star, sixty to 80 two stars and, above 80%, three stars). How much more reasonable can we be than that?
      Unfortunately there appears no interest from industry leaders in promoting standards. We the teachers and students are the losers in this institutionalisation of low standards.
      Of course we at MTG are happy to debate appropriate levels of skills and experience, unsurprisingly the IATEFL conference isn’t.

  3. Compared to the public sector (at least in the UK) that’s laughable. If you want a job here, you have to commit to getting a PGCE within two years of starting work. Those with a CELTA will find a way in, but it’s not enough to keep you in long term. There’s also the new Level 5 qualification to ‘increase professionlism’ (my understanding of all these qualifications they make obligatory), though whether it does is another matter altogether…

  4. marxistelf

    Thanks for that input Mike, really important to get feedback on all key sectors of the industry. Of course, you are right, qualifications and experience do not directly equal higher standards. They do, however, create considerably more favourable conditions in which higher standards can be achieved.

    • Yep, I agree there. The fact that teachers have to have similar level of qualification this leads to more realistic possibility for parity in pay. The imbalance here is between ESOL teachers in Further Education and those in Primary/Secondary. It seems we are deemed ‘less professional’ than our mainstream sector colleagues – hence the drive for qualification.

      There’s also the fact that there seems to be no clear definition of what makes a teacher ‘professional’. There seem to be new qualifications invented daily sometimes. I can’t wait to see what the next Govt will dream up =(

    • I have my doubts. On the other hand, it is extremely difficult to organize and unionize on a worldwide basis. Hell, it’s extremely difficult to do it on a local basis (for one thing, many localities simply lack that many EFL teachers, if you are talking about ‘foreign nationals’ trying to get a place on the ‘native English speaker gravy train’).
      It’s mostly cold gravy that looks like snot.

  5. I managed to get a job teaching ESOL in an FE college with a CELTA plus more than five years teaching experience but, as Mike says, it was conditional on getting the Cert FE /ESOL subject specialism within two years (the Level 5 Mike refers to). Cambridge unofficially call the ESOL subject specialism the Celta Module 2, though nobody in TEFL seems to have heard of it. Certainly, TEFL is missing a bridging qualification between CELTA and DELTA (which is very expensive unless you’re up for a career in management).

  6. alexcase

    With the upcoming situation of fewer EFL schools due to visa restrictions and cuts in public spending, we are hardly going to be increasing pay in the near future just by moaning. Does anyone have a single sensible proposal on how to increase UK TEFL pay?

  7. marxistelf

    Thanks Michael, Mike and Alex,
    It is surprising and significant that our intended discusion of IATEFL (with its obvious international dimension) has resulted in a discussion of ESOL and UK TEFL pay. This is no bad thing and we can only apologise for not participating earlier in the excellent debate hosted on Alex’s site and inspired by a guest piece from 26 letters:
    It seems to us that we are touching on a number of key contradictions at the heart of the industry, contradictions which need to be analysed and understood before we can effectively organise ourselves to effect change.
    The first of these contradictions is the presentation/marketting of ELT as a unitary field when in fact it is an unstable “alliance” between diverse and competing interests/fields (literacy training, adult education, higher education, industry based skills training, tourism, primary and secondary education, after-school activities). This is not to say they do not intersect or draw upon shared assumptions about language learning but they require specific skills, training, methodologies, systems of evaluation etc.
    The second of these, and we have to confess to being culprits of this crime, is that we have downplayed the contradiction between the private sector and the state. In the distinction between NESTs and non-NESTs we miss the obvious. The vast majority of non-NESTs work for their respective state systems while the majority of NESTs work in the private sector (this also includes higher education “non-profitmaking” organisations). This is important for the next contradiction.
    The hegemony of America and, particularly Britain, in language teaching is extremely contradictory. America and Britain have a poor record in the foreign/second language training of its respective populations when compared say with Scandanavian countries, the Phillipines, Germany or the Netherlands. The dominance of these countries would appear to be related to their brand (think English football here- incredibly reliant on outside talent for its domestic game and lacking success in international competition but highly marketable, nevertheless, as the “great English game”) and the backing of universities which enjoy great status and advantages in international higher education.
    So in answer to Alex’s salient point, what should we do about low pay in a time of crisis, we say we should raise the issue of training and standards. The same that we should have been doing in ELT “boom times”. We have allowed the institutions who enjoy a hegemonic position within the industry, to institutionalise low pay through low standards and four week training courses (this was the Devil’s pact between John Haycraft, founder of International House, and Trinity College).
    Arguing for a threshold of qualifications and experience (60%) within NEST heartlands like English UK is our way exposing these contradictions and challenging the current hegemony enjoyed by such groups as the British Council, The North American Institute, Cambridge exams, Trinity, TOEFL, TOEFIC, English UK and International House. It is these groups who enslave us in low pay and institutionalise low standards in key parts of the industry. They have allied with the private sector (they of course are all “non-profitmaking” with the exception of IH) because it is here they can avoid accountability.
    We certainly do not worship the state (indeed we want to smash it and replace it with democratic alternatives) but we do recognise the advantages of accountability, of being within the political sphere, as well as the disadvantages. It is no surprise that the most effective industrial struggles this year were undertaken in the state system not the private sector (that is where we are best organised).
    For this we call for accountability, for standards, for proper training. for 60% of teaching hours to be taught by those with a diploma, PGCE alternative and/or over five years experience. This is the bare minimu our students can expect. If IATEFL cannot deliver this (we know they can’t) then it should be disolved and an alternative international ELT teachers’ association formed.

  8. marxistelf

    We would also recommend readers see this debate posted on Alex’s site this time last year but recently reactivated
    It appears to us that we need to focus our attention (and anger) outwards, if we are to secure change.

    • TEFLista

      I think that the problem isn’t IATEFL, it’s an external one. There are plenty of employers, including entire ministries of eduction, that will hire underqualified or unqualified teachers and they have become a driving force for setting low standards. Take the JET program in Japan or EPIK in Korea, for example — both of which hire thousands of teachers each year. For them, a BA in any field, along with blond hair, is pretty much the preferred qualification.

      • The standard in Japan, at least regarding the JET Programme and some other ALT programs, is really the qualifications and professionalism of the teaching situations they will find themselves in. That is, the Japanese teachers of English. It’s these people who for better or worse induct ALTs into ‘EFL Japan-style’. Outside/foreign qualifications would mean next to nothing to the teachers who dominate EFL in Japan, which is Japanese teachers of English. At the universities, it’s professors of linguistics, literature and ‘English education’ (the collection of studies given to the Japanese who want to teach at lower age levels). Again, outside qualifications mean next to nothing in these situations. For a start, most of these professors are not interested very much in FL education at their own institutions and programs.

  9. marxistelf

    Hi TEFLista,
    Thanks a lot for your comments, they are much appreciated.
    We agree, of course, that the problems faced by teachers and students are, in large part, external to IATEFL. We also agree that EPIK in Korea and JET in Japan is evidence of how nation states want education on the cheap. Indeed, we would argue that the driving force for better standards in mass education is/was and will be, working class self-organisation (most notably among teachers).
    And this is why IATEFL is the problem, it is an opportunity and impediment to the self-organisation of ELT teachers. Opportunity because it claims over 3,000 members worldwide and over 1,500 of these visit their annual conference. Impediment because it seeks to channel the energies and ideas of some of our most able colleagues into an ethical and political cul-de-sac. Put simply, if IATEFL didn’t exist then many of those teachers would be looking to establish an alternative. An alternative organisation which could campaign around teachers and students’ interests rather the interests of the British Council, IH, English UK etc.
    Maybe a proper teachers body could have raised its concerns and ideas with the Korean and Japanese teachers’ trade unions on how EKIP and JET respectively could be better implemented. Maybe such an organisation could campaign around raising standards globally, maybe such an organisation can link with trade unions around the world, mabe such an organisation could offer infomation and support (including legal resources) globally to all its members. Maybe…
    At the moment, many of our finest trudge off to IATEFL conferences, contribute to the groups, read and write newsletters, in the hope (no matter how vain) that IATEFL might one day represent our (the teachers and students’) interests.
    So, finally, if IATEFL, The International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) is not part of the solution then it is most definately a part of the problem

  10. A different question might be: how many people presenting at IATEFL actually currently teach EFL?

    I haven’t belonged to IATEFL since they refused to condemn the invasion of Iraq. They sucked then, they probably still suck.

  11. marxistelf

    Hi Charles,
    It is good to have you back here. (Loved that image of ” mostly cold gravy that looks like snot”!)
    We would echo your points on the difficulty ,even undesirability, of organising a union of ELT teachers at an international level. The trade union struggles of teachers will largely be fought at a local level.We do, however, believe that it is worthwhile building an international platform for sharing ideas both on genuine teaching and workplace issues, connecting ideas and experiences, building international solidarity.
    Moreover, we believe it is important to connect with principled elements within the IATEFL membership in order that such a platform can be built. If only ten percent (we believe the figure is considerably higher) of the people who went to Harrogate have a principled interest in progressing teachers and students’ interests (rather than their own narrow interests) then that is 150 people we can work with to build such an alternative platform. After all, you yourself were once attracted to the possibilities of IATEFL before your principled withdrawal on the issue of Iraq.
    In this article we have sought to mobilise around the issue of experience and qualifications because we believe the “swamp” of poor quality ELT institutions has a detrimental effect on all key ELT sectors. If this article has struck a chord with workers then it is hoped they might mobilise in some way to help raise thresholds of experience and qualifications in their own workplace. When experienced workers in language academies cannot be so easily replaced by trainee teachers straight off
    four week training courses, then this will raise the bargaining power of ELT teachers in universities and ESOL programmes in the UK and US as well. This is not to militate against new entrants to the industry but to work with them to provide better supportive working environments and more promising longer term prospects.
    Finally, there is more than one way to raise conscioussness at an international level and we hope you will join us in setting up a twice yearly Radical ELT journal which analyses ELT in a wider social, political and economic context. (we are taking as our template at present the Radical Anthropology Group’s journal
    which manages to avoid the two extremes of academicism and anti-intellectualism).
    In the meantime we would also like to draw your attention to this article on militant research which we think might be of interest to you:
    We look forward to further co-operation

    • Try and take a shot at my own question: how many presenting at international conferences like IATEFL actually TEFL? I would bet most do not. That says something about our ‘profession’. Imagine BA pilots being trained to fly Airbuses by some academics who have never flown an Airbus. We would get the theory of the Airbus and a quantified study on pilots’ attitudes toward flying tasks on the Airbus, all of which would be sociologically interpreted to put together a task-based syllabus, including how to combine anti-depressants with airline coffee.

      I think one problem with specifiying some sort of minimum of qualifications is , well, look at who is in charge of those qualifications–the very same sort of people who give presentations at IATEFL. Or at least people who trained under these.

      I understand the concern about how every new wave of ELT newbie wipes out any possible gains in employment, salaries, benefits, satisfying careers, effective teaching and learning, etc. etc.
      But the ELT industry is this dragon-like beast, and by focusing on this issue, you are begging to trim the dragon’s toenails.

  12. I know it’s bad when I’m replying to my own replies to my own replies, but that’s the internet and timezone differences, etc.

    Why was I ever attracted to IATEFL in the first place? Because JALT here in Japan (an affiliate of TESOL and IATEFL) was run by a bunch of know-nothing ignoramuses for a bunch of want-to-know-nothing ignoramuses. The only JALT cared about ultimately was convening enough businesses to turn a profit at their annual conference. It was impossible to work at any sort of grassroots level using the JALT imprimatur in order to improve ELT in Japan. If you volunteered for a post with a chapter or SIG, you got ignored by JALT national, but if you took your duties seriously, you could work LITERALLY full-time hours at your unpaid volunteer post.

    Now I realize the key there was not to take it all so seriously.

  13. Continuing about IATEFL. IATEFL seemed to have in place a much better system of organization for SIGs. That was the only reason I joined, and I did have several years of good association with several SIGs. The other benefits, like a reduced subscription price to the truly awful ELT Journal (OUP) didn’t interest me at all.

  14. marxistelf

    Thank you Charles for your further comments which we are pleased to receive in whatever format (one long reply or a number of replies).
    Thank you especially for your insights into JALT, we would of course welcome any other views on this or another IATEFL affiliate.
    We do, however, detect a marked tone of anti-intellectualism and isolationism which we feel cannot go unchallenged.
    Firstly, on a point of data we would ask you to substantiate your claim that:
    “Try and take a shot at my own question: how many presenting at international conferences like IATEFL actually TEFL? I would bet most do not. That says something about our ‘profession’. Imagine BA pilots being trained to fly Airbuses by some academics who have never flown an Airbus.”

    Here is the brochure with a proposed list of speakers and workshops:
    We think you will find that the majority of speakers (do not overconcentrate on “headline” speakers) either have taught or do teach in some sector of ELT. Indeed, there are certain speakers who are committed activists who have put great energy into improving the lives of teachers.
    Secondly, your dismissal of theoretical and research input from outside day-to-day teaching mirrors the anti-intellectualism quite often found in the most conservative elements of the industry. It is one thing to criticise academicism it is another to reject theoretical input. Would you seek to exclude Marx, Vygotsky, Piaget, Freire, Freud etc from an ELT conference because they don’t teach “TEFL”?
    Thirdly, there is tendency to describe people as “a bunch of” this or “a bunch of” that (leaving yourself untouched by such criticism) rather than discuss the organisation of IATEFL in general. This will win you little influence amongst any group of people
    Finally, it is better to be reasonable than tener razon (be right). It is of little use wrapping yourself in the gowns of reason and admiring those gowns in the mirror, it is better to reason with and have some influence over. Whilst you provide some useful analysis ofthe situation in TEFL, your tone and broad brush approach will ensure that very few people take the time to read or listen to it.

    • I believe the traditional debate has been termed ‘obscurantism vs. scientism’. Heidegger was one of the ‘obscurantists’.

      My point about theory has been and continues to be that theorizing of and for language teaching and learning has to come from language teaching and learning. I believe Marx would understand the point well. The rest is metatheory at best, philosophical gasbagging at its worst.

      It has long struck me as more than fascinating that most of what gets produced and presented as ‘research’ in ELT, even when it is done by someone who is described as a teacher, gets produced and presented because that teacher is doing an advanced degree under academic supervision. In other words, teachers don’t dare intellectualize their work unless under the supervision of someone who most likely DOES NOT teach EFL.

      I stand by my assertion that the majority of IATEFL presenters are not teachers of EFL. They are teacher trainers, consultants, professional presenters. The last thing on the list is language teacher.

      If JALT is the object of discussion, then I would also have to say many are paid shills of textbooks publishers.

  15. >>This will win you little influence amongst any group of people<<

    That by the way is Norman Vincent Peale, not Marx.

  16. I just saw this post and it is late here, but I want to say that while I agree with your comments about the institutions that ‘run’ the TEFL world, I’m not too happy about these lines “Unfortunately, none of these institutions, nor for that matter many of the principle speakers at IATEFL, have any real interest in raising standards. IATEFL remains a sugar coated trade fair, unable and unwilling to address the interrelated issues of pay, standards and working conditions.”
    – the key words being ‘raising standards or simply standards’.

    and this,
    ” Our contribution to this special week is to ask teachers and students to consider how life would be different if academies, universities and schools within ELT could all claim at least 60% of their actual teaching hours were delivered by experienced and qualified teachers (say teachers with a Diploma in ELT, a PGCE or similar and/or over five years teaching experience).”

    hmm, experienced AND qualified, so that excludes probably about 90% of those teachers working in the corrupt world of TEFL/ESL/EAP etc. around the world.

    To me this sounds very elitist. The problem in the EFL world is NOT the lack of qualifications or experience of teachers, but the profit motive of the employers as you rightly state in your opening paragraph.

    The sooner teachers in EFL see themselves as workers and not professionals, and fight as workers, then we will advance our pay and conditions. Appealing to (a mythical) ‘our professionalism’ undermines that process.

    Solidarity from Greece.

    • I absolutely agree with SfromG here. I wish I had said it that well.

    • marxistelf

      Thanks anticapitalista,
      A welcome breath of fresh air from recent “distractions” away from the subject of organising teacher resistance!
      You are of course right that “professionalism” is an elitist project and “undermines” our fight over pay and conditions. However, we would make the following points:
      1. Nowhere have we argued for the “professional approach” nor would we.
      2. A large percentage of EFL workers are trade unionised and hold a PGCE equivalent in their country (they are often referred to as nonNESTs, non native speaking Enslish teachers). We should always keep these teachers in mind when developing strategies for the industry.
      3. We were keen to communicate
      “experienced and qualified teachers – say teachers with a Diploma in ELT, a PGCE or similar AND/OR (block capitals inserted now) over five years teaching experience-”
      Following on from these points we would like to draw similarities and differences between restrictions made on entry to the workplace between trade union action and “profesionalism”.
      Firstly, as workers have no other option than to sell their labour power (they do not own/control the means of production, like professions they seek to protect themselves from being too easily disposable. They do-or did- this by closed shops, insisting on full-time permanent contracts with redundancy pay if that contrct is rescinded, demarcation between areas of work etc). This is not so “enlightened” as it does not advance the revolutionary possibilities of the class, it is only defensive and ties the worker to a set of unequal relations (albeit somewhat modified and improved from what the employer wants). We could say that workers seek to protect themselves from being too easily replaced by other cheaper workers.
      By arguing for the workplace to be staffed in the MAJORITY by experienced and/or qualified (more than a four week training course) teachers we are trying to make ourselves less easily replaceable by the constant flooding of the EFL market wth new recruits who may not have the same interests (i.e stay in the industry and fight for better working conditions rather than enjoy a gap year) as ourselves.
      Similarly, we are not dismissing the needs or the trade union potential of these new workers be they intent on a gap year or not:
      ” We are not for one moment suggesting that new teachers not be welcomed or valued in the industry. Rather, we are saying that they should be incorporated and nurtured within a skilled and experienced peer environment.”
      Surely, you wouldn’t find it “elitist” for teachers in mainstream education to insist on certain demarcation in roles between them and teaching assistants. It is somewhat unpleasant and hierachical (and far from our revolutionary ideas about a new society) but it serves the function of advancing pay and conditions for both teaching assistants and teachers.
      Finally, much of the language used in our piece is used purposely to reverberate with teachers attracted by notions of “professionalism” (ie higher standards and better quality for students). Many of whom will have been attending or following the Harrogate conference. We did this because we know that only by organising as workers can we achieve the quality and standards they are talking hypocritically about at IATEFL, with their workshops and trade fairs. We wanted to directly address those sections of workers in their own (non trade union) language For many teachers trade unions are not an attractive option and trade unions have been unimaginative in recruiting/working in key ELT sectors. The availability of a constant cheap source of labour and nine month contracts has undermined union attempts to advance pay and conditions. If you don’t like your pay you can be replaced by someone else next academic term straight off a four week training course and maybe needing a job quickly in a new country where their limited savings aren’t going to last long.
      By seeking to get British Council staff to force their organisation to raise the threshold or workers in English UK to do similar we are asking workers to strike out for their own interests and begin to escape the viscious circle of low standards and low pay.
      It is no good just reciting the mantra of trade unionism we need to find some way of organising effectively within trade unions and attracting the majority of teachers in all ELT to workplace struggle in order to transform that industry.
      In comradeship

  17. Thanks for this thread Marxist ELF. Anti-capitalista – I wish I knew who *you* were. We should meet up for a drink (seeing as you are based in Greece). Some people in this thread may assume we are one and the same, but we are not (though I like what you say!) If you feel like identifying yourself, please email me on shannam@ath.forthnet.gr. Interesting discussion from everyone here. I am listening and learning.

    • marxistelf

      Hi Sara,
      Good to hear from you.
      Like you we are very interested to hear more from anticapitalista too.
      Hopefully, if more people like anticapitalista contribute, we might be closer to an answer to Alex’s question:

      “Does anyone have a single sensible proposal on how to increase UK TEFL pay?”

      P.S. we know Alex means TEFL pay generally

  18. marxistelf

    Please forgive us for the rather long reply and overlook any unnecessary aggression on our part (borne mainly out of our disappointment in, despite your interesting and useful ideas, your inability to relate properly with others in any movement).
    Let us first take the issue of anti-intellectualism and isolationism which you have taken it upon yourself to recast as a debate between “obscurantism” and “scientism”. Anti-intellectualism is a mode of thought which has a pathological hatred of intellectuals: Wikipedia has a beautiful description of how it might express itself:
    “Anti-intellectualism usually is expressed through declarations of Otherness — the intellectual is “not one of us”, and is dangerous to societal normality, for having little empathy for the common folk. Historically, this resulted in portrayals of intellectuals as an arrogant class, whom rural communities viewed as “city slickers” indifferent to country ways; such communities tended to stereotype intellectuals as foreigners or as racial and ethnic minorities who “think differently” than the natives. Religious critics misrepresent them as prone to mental instability, proposing an organic, causal connection between genius and madness; they are unlike regular people because of their assumed atheism, and are indecent given their sexual mores, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity, or celibacy.”
    Of course there are left-wing variants of anti-intellectualism but we must always remember they are framed in a simplistic sense of Otherness; of people “indifferent to our ways”. We would ask you to reflect on your writings and ask yourself to consider how your writings might reflect the same impulses. Academicism, however, is the manner in which intellectual production is prescribed, produced and policed by academic institutions. It is important in critiquing academicism not to slip into mindless anti-intellectualism.
    Moreover, as you have raised the spectre of Martin Heidegger it is worth looking at what light he throws upon the discussion. Heidegger was many things, including a sympathiser of the Third Reich, but he was not an anti-intellectual. Heidegger’s point was that philosophy has been dethroned and the world is all the poorer for it. Human Kind has mistakenly replaced explicit metaphysics with the new implicit instrumental rationalist metaphysic. Rather than science and technology being a tool of human beings, the human being has become a tool. Derrida and Foucault have taken up Heidegger’s work and Foucault, in particular, has discussed how higher education has become segmented, how you are not allowed into a “scientific realm” unless you allow yourself to be fully policed by its “discourse and the manners in which that discourse is produced”. Put simply, philosophy has nothing to say on second language teaching and learning- we must concern ourselves only with teacher data (results- answers to questionnaires etc). People doing research must be supervised only by second language teachers and all such research should be inoculated from meta-theory. Again, Charles we ask you to reconsider your writing and ask yourself whether this “rigid” rejection of meta-theory and multi-disciplinary approaches is either helpful or healthy.
    Thirdly, we would make explicit our attitudes to all things intellectual. Like Gramsci we believe that everyone is an intellectual but not all people have that function in society. We believe that creating space from the immediate workplace, to do research, to get involved in other interdisciplinary approaches, should be the right of all at various times of their life. In any modern complex society it is clear that considerable space and time has to be found for this. We also follow Gramsci in his notion of the organic socialist intellectual, whose work should be guided by the interests of their class. This is why we seek not only dialogue with others but transformation. You make an unpleasant claim (references to the bigot, Norman Vincent Peale) that winning people over to your ideas is alien to the tradition of Marxism, we would say it is at the very heart of that tradition.
    Which brings us to our final point, how you personally relate to the ELT teachers or the socialist movement (your isolationism). It appears that instead of dialogue you indulge yourself in monologue (not taking the time to read or listen to others) and instead of seeking to change the situation you content yourself in argument for the sake of vanity. You write in a self-rhetorical style to a collective of teachers (Dogme ELT- a philosophy of teaching which despises the rhetorical question) and are surprised that they exclude you from their discussions. You dismiss every one of your colleagues in JALT (with nearly 3,000 members in chapters and affiliates across Japan as well as members abroad.) as “a bunch of want-to-know-nothing ignoramuses”. You “bet the majority” of people who present at IATEFL conferences don’t “actually TEFL” but you don’t take the time to find out. You dismiss those who have left the classroom for teaching training, materials writing or research. And, rather conclusively, we discovered this contribution from you on a Marxist discussion forum
    “Why don’t you cite just one opinion poll that
    supports your assertion–at least that way I’ll
    have something of substance to rip to shreds.
    Otherwise, I’m not even sure its our little
    doggies that are being wagged.”


    Not surprisingly you were no longer welcome on that forum, the other contributors no doubt wondering why you bother with this “alpha-male” routine. We at Marxist TEFL recognise that as well as having a point of view to share you also have personal issues that need resolving. We would politely ask that you do that before returning to comment on a blog which is designed for those who wish to have a dialogue about changing the ELT industry

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  20. I promise I will reply to marxistelf and add more to this debate over the weekend, I’m really bust at the moment.

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  23. We apologise beforehand for use of specific jargon and assumptions of a backround knowledge concerning the debate but:
    This is where MTG really lost the plot!! Coming to this debate some years later, it is easy, in retrospect, to identify the false path they began to follow. Rather than be a propaganda group for dissenting voices in TEFL in particular and ELT in general, they identified IATEFL (or at least those who tune into the debates and discussion) as a surrogate Labour Party (quite risible really), from which they could attract and multiply sympathisers.
    This was. of course. a false path. They were absolutely right in their analysis that IATEFL could not deliver on raising standards, but mistaken in the nature of their audience. It´s true there are many disaffected directors of studies and materials writers, but Jannuzi (see above) was spot on by saying they are not rank and file teachers. The wishy washy liberal rhetoric MTG used to defend their position is clearly hair-curling. IATEFL was never a forum from which MTG could draw a meaningful audience without abandoning its claim to radical politics..
    Moreover, IATEFL did then and do more so now, represent a diminishing force within ELT. THey have been clobbered by the Universities at the Top end and Clil at the bottom. Had they not been so keen to criticise David Graddol (BC guru) at every opportunity, they would have seen that he was right in stressing Englisg students were getting younger and younger and that NESTs were likely to be replaced by Non-NESTS. The call to raise standards in this NEST niche industry (outside the various state funded education systems and British University system) was always doomed to failure.
    It soon became apparent that those long-term NEST teachers looking to make a career for themselves (outrside of Director of Studies, Sales, Freelance lone ranger or materials writer) would migrate back to their countries to teach migrant workers or university students. These teachers will already have met the very barriers of higher standards (certificates, experiences, reasearch, extra languages) that MTG were calling for. The contributions of Michael and Mike Harrison, above, reveal how out of touch MTG were sadly becoming with this sector.
    This is not to say that many TEFLers were not open to the ideas of MTG, they clearly were, but many (like anti-capitalista) are escapees from rigid institutional organisations and did not take too kindly to MTG trying to close their escape route.
    In this leap towards higher levels of acreditation, MTG were casting themselves as reformers (not revolutionaries), but trying to sell higher standards to IATEFL types was like trying to sell combs to a room full of bald men, Of course, their misplaced vanity might make them appear interested but the reality of their material circumstances meant it was a hopeless task.
    Far better, to support the initiatives of others (trade unions, alternative schools and methodologies) rather than substitute themselves for a class of TEFL reformers that history is making unnecessary.

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