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.