The good, the bad, and the unbelievable.
I’ve worked in a lot of language schools – 27 of them I think, but I may have forgotten one or two. These schools are scattered across China, Hong Kong, Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam. And of these schools, about seven were well-managed, responsibly run, and concerned with their students’ progress and their teachers’ work conditions. The other twenty were shoddily managed, couldn’t care less about student progress, and treated teachers with arrogant disdain. For them, the bottom line was money, pure and simple, and fuck every other consideration. Yet, such is the demand for English language tuition, these mickey mouse schools were still making a bundle, and laughing all the way to the bank. And they continue to do so.
Now, let’s consider what it would take to transform a sub-standard school into a good school:
1. Establish some procedures for the recruitment of students, placement testing them, and assigning them to classes of a suitable ability-level. Don’t compromise on the placement levels, no matter how much the student or his parents plead.
2. Train the staff in the administration of these procedures.
3. Purchase suitable text books.
4. Schedule the classes.
5. Advertise for, interview and hire teachers with the required qualifications and experience.
6. Advise the teachers of school procedures, duties, and the expected standard of teaching.
7. Monitor both the administrative staff and teachers to check that minimum quality standards are being met.
8. Ensure that classroom equipment is in working order.
It’s all basic stuff, isn’t it? And the outlay required is not all that much: probably classroom equipment (air-conditioners or fans, whiteboards, whiteboard markers and audio equipment) would incur the greatest expense. Do all that, then BINGO, you’ve got yourself a quality school. Rocket science, it ain’t. I wonder why the sub-standard schools aren’t doing it?
EFL minus the B.S. is now available on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle form. Buy it, and you’ll get not only an entertaining dissection of the English teaching profession worldwide, but also a bunch of original, workable teaching tips, advice on how best to land a job, and a country-by-country breakdown of living and working conditions all over.