Something came up today in my chat with Jane Ritter on Teachers Talk Radio and I could see from the comments that it's not just me that feels like this.
English teaching (as a foreign language, a second language or any other derivation) is commonly seen as 'less' than other teaching. Yet we are still required to have certification and we don't usually get the summer off - it's probably the busiest time. So why are we thought of so negatively?
As I mentioned with Jane, I first started EFL as a way to travel. I think this is a common way to start in EFL. Back then, I was given a few days of training and that was it - into small classrooms to teach conversation. However, in later schools, I was required to have proper training, follow a curriculum, plan lessons, have lesson plans, make resources etc.
The CELTA and DELTA certifications are intense and immensely useful qualifications to hold - true, they're not a PGCE, but they're still a professional qualification. As English teachers, we still prepare our students for exams - very often, these exams are requirements to get into university, such as IELTS. However, when I was working in a college, the students didn't seem to see the value of IELTS (for example) over their other, 'real' subjects - but if they didn't get their required IELTS score, they wouldn't be able to study any subject at university.
EFL teachers often work through the summer - one of the key things I got as a teacher was 'Oh, so you don't work in the summer? Nice!' - well, in EFL, it's the busiest time. I did get a job in the college which meant I didn't work over summer, but in fact I did, getting schemes of work ready etc. In reality, I think EFL teachers work just as hard as other teachers, so why is the pay not the same? When I started working in the FE college, my salary doubled. Many EFL teachers are on a zero hours contract, which as the TEFL Workers' Union states goes 'against the spirit of the law'. Even now, I looked at a job advertised online, and the hourly rate is £14 per hour. Very often, there isn't even an annual salary, just an hourly rate - yet another denigration of the profession of English teaching.
Teaching is exhausting at the best of times, but without proper pay and conditions, EFL teachers are going to continue to be seen as 'less'. We are REAL teachers doing REAL work and deserve REAL pay and conditions.
Would love to know your thoughts on this.