How to start your own teaching blog

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We’ve been writing our teaching blog for nearly a year now, and it has been a roller coaster experience. We’ve had positive feedback, negative feedback and met and spoken to some really interesting people. We wouldn’t change our experience as we found it quite cathartic, whilst living and working in Northern Spain, and we love hearing different teachers opinions. We are not the only ones: there is a huge world of EFL out there and hundreds of posts are written and shared everyday. People want to hear what you have to say, and being teachers we all seem to be fond of, and good at, writing.

Continue reading “How to start your own teaching blog”

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ELT, Twitter, Hashtags and you

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The Twitter world is buzzing with ELT knowledge, venting and support. Whether you are a newbie to the ELT world or a grizzled pro who has considered giving up at least twice, then here are three things that we recommend you keep up to date with in the twitter world:

Continue reading “ELT, Twitter, Hashtags and you”

Still a long way to go…

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After receiving a very blunt email from an academy in Portugal asking ‘are you a native speaker?’ to which my response was ‘no’… followed by their kind hearted response of        ‘we only hire native speakers’. I thought to myself, just another day really in the TEFL industry, but after looking over the advertisement I was astonished to find that it said ‘native level speakers’ not ‘native speakers only’ and naturally I thought ‘What the hell is that?’

Many adverts now post ‘native level speakers’ and some give clarification of C2 requirements etc etc and I honestly thought, despite being in this industry for too long, that perhaps things were changing maybe there was some hope for the people not ‘fortunate’ enough to have been born in an English speaking country; we could get our C2 and set out into the TEFL world … I was wrong. While many websites and Facebook groups change their policies to reflect the diversity of their market, the academies, especially in Spain and Portugal, appear to be paying lip service to this by seemingly changing their requirements, when in actual fact, the first thing they do is email you and tell you they want native speakers only. (Idiomas Watson!)

Again… WHAT THE HELL IS NATIVE LEVEL? After reading a fascinating article on TEFL equity advocates I came to the conclusion that I really don’t know what native speaker is let alone what native level is. Linguistically, if you have reached proficiency level you are for all intents and purposes a native speaker, perhaps sociolinguistically you may not feel it or even associate with the culture but to put it simply; if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, talks like a duck… it’s a duck. This made me even more certain that this is just lip service from academies, because I can guarantee that they don’t know either, what makes a native speaker or even native level, they just want to see a passport and get their advert up.

In my mind if you have reached the ‘level of a native’ (C2) you are one, or is it that you can’t be because you didn’t acquire the language as a child, and therefore, only know exactly why you say what you say to a grammatical tee, and have done countless tests to prove it. What awful traits for a teacher to have.

If you have worked hard enough to attain a C2, and therefore know more about English than the average native and certainly more than the young Americans who come to Spain as assistant teachers and also teach in academies, would that not make me native enough to teach? Am I on their level yet? Well for most, apparently, the answer is ridiculously… no. I am just not marketable and the people who pay the price are the students.

It boils down to money, there are no principles in the hierarchies of the TEFL industry there is only money, there is no interest for academies and schools to hire ‘non- natives’ they’ll make more money if they don’t. Artifacts of an old generation, infecting the new with their discrimination, sacrificing the best teaching, for their students, in the pursuit of an arrogant dream.

When I confronted the person mentioned in the first paragraph of this post, their reply was straight from the book:

‘Our business will fail if we don’t hire natives, as students will leave to other schools’

If the only thing stopping your business from failing is marketing that you have ‘native speakers’ then shame on you. Why can’t you have a school that markets itself as successful, with quality teachers? Perhaps I am missing something and being ignorant but then again ignorance seems to be prevailing at the moment.

Either way, we can sit here and talk about the achievement of banning the words ‘native speaker’ on many job sites and talk about how smart we are because we write academic pieces, quoting lots of important people, which debunk the very essence of nativism, but are clearly not received or read by the academies, who will not budge, regardless of fancy words and subsequent bans on words, or (big breath) we can do something else about it.

What we need is more action: blacklists, reviews of academies, blog posts calling these employers out and challenging them wherever you see their ‘native only’ posts or ‘sorry you didn’t get the job’ email despite advertising for native level. Tell them it is against EU law and stand up and be counted, remember that the evidence supports us, as so eloquently summarised by many supporters, in so many articles, and remember the value you have as a teacher, and never allow yourself to be defined by your passport.

I must admit that a solution to nativism doesn’t seem in sight but one day someone is going to sue an academy and win. Maybe when the pockets of these people have been hit hard they will finally realise that the marketing ploy, they have used for so long, is discriminatory, unjustifiable and the cancer of the TEFL industry. Rant over!

 

Tips for the new academic year!

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The summer is ending (unfortunately) and it is time for many new teachers to go abroad and experience their first proper post CELTA job and a time for many returning teachers to get back into the teaching zone. Here are some tips, collected from several teachers, about how to start the new academic year, some are obvious, and maybe some will be very helpful indeed.

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Why you should visit my little Yorkshire town, Hebden Bridge.

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Nestled in a valley between Manchester and Leeds, along the tight and windy A646 lies Hebden Bridge, where old terrace houses belch peat fumes into the winter air, and on summer days young children dive into pools of iron rich, browny orange water, beneath cascading waterfalls, before heading home for tea.

Many people ‘know’ Hebden Bridge, perhaps they drove through it or went on a school trip there once or even heard of it in the newspaper for its diverse sexual demographics  but few get under the surface and experience all this town has to offer. So here are some things to do when you visit Hebden Bridge and some reasons why I love the town so much. Continue reading “Why you should visit my little Yorkshire town, Hebden Bridge.”

A day at a Summer School in England

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Working in a Summer School happened to me through a random job application, whilst unhappy with my job in Spain. I applied; I left it and I didn’t think anything of it, but what I didn’t realise was that the 8 weeks I do every year would serve as the best teaching environment and experience I would have as a teacher, despite being in Spain for 3 years.

Not only was I being paid over the summer, which for many teachers is a dream, I got to do so in the city I went to University and where most of my formative years occurred. I could choose either 15 hr weeks or 30 hr weeks and I had a say in what levels I was interested in teaching, so as to help with my career development, something the school takes seriously, and although only an 8 week contract, I honestly felt a better teacher for it and that my skills had actually developed. I learnt a lot of new activities to use in the classroom and I actually got to use my CELTA knowledge.

To give a better idea of my experience and hopefully many others, here is what I did on a typical day in a typical 30hr week: Continue reading “A day at a Summer School in England”