English spoken here

My last post drew some great responses which got onto what I wanted to put in this one so I’ll try not to repeat.

I’ve been interested in the idea of a change of ownership of English for a while, ever since hearing David Crystal talk about it on the BBC a loooong time ago. He said that as the number of non-native English speakers grew they would eventually surpass us natives. I also remember hearing about the ‘end of EFL’ as when non-natives have all been brought up with English they would no longer need EFL classes. 2020 may have been the date stated for the peak of EFL ( I could be wrong, probably am).

Well, from attending interviews for various jobs this year, I can say that my competition has grown. Yes, before I was competing with local French Anglophones but now I find myself sitting next to Spanish speakers, Greeks, Slovakians and Poles, all with fantastic English. Not to mention the traditional bilinguals such as the Dutch who have better English than me and play better football.

One of my English teaching friends is Catalan and he teaches English, Spanish and French. For an employer he is a dream employee as he saves them hiring 2 other people and his level is CPE+, he’s even doing the DELTA.

So, what does this mean then? Well, we native speakers may be in for a tougher time and need more than just the CELTA to prove we can teach. We may also need to be bilingual or trilingual. Here in France, people still expect English lessons in French a lot of the time. And if this is the peak of EFL then what next? When kids start English at 5 years old when they get to 20 they won’t need Pre-int classes. Yes, they may require CAE as proof they have the level but they may not even need prepping. I once has a Swedish kid who prepared it on his own and got a B.

Any ideas?


13 thoughts on “English spoken here

  1. Ohh… The End Of EFL! This is something I have wondered about. I mean, there are only so many people on this Earth and I increasingly hear of NNS parents bringing up their kids bilingually (one of my friends actually speaks better English than me having been brought up to be bilingual by his German parents).

    Although I don’t feel like we need to panic just yet (Don’t PANIC!!), as someone who is (just) on the younger side of 30, it makes me wonder where I will end up in 30 years, nearer the end of my career. For me, I am a teacher & a linguist. This opens up many options, ones which I have thought of pursuing even without the impending “End of EFL”. For me, as long as I am working closely with people, able to develop continually, and have a strong connection with language, I’m happy. Damn . sounds like EFL is perfect for me. Right, let’s all slow down and hold our students back at B1 level, spread the word the bilingualism doesn’t work etc… Then we’ll be safe.

    Of course, it’s not just the fact that everyone might know English that could kill off EFL, but the rise of other languages (Mandarin etc…). But perhaps this would just make the EFL market smaller, rather than kill it off? It’s unlikely that English would become completely redundant. So this could just mean that there are fewer people doing TEFL qualifications in order to travel, and more people who want to do it as a career? And that, due to less supply of teachers willing to work for peanuts, schools have to up their pay-levels? Ahh… we can but dream.

    Right, you’ve managed to get me commenting before I’ve even had a cup of tea.


    • “For me, as long as I am working closely with people, able to develop continually, and have a strong connection with language”

      Now there are many possibilities there.

      Let’s start a global EFL conspiracy then. I’ve seen it in other countries where schools/trainers do ‘slow progress’ and keep students at 1 level for a whole year. Milking it??

      I’ll try and post something or your latter ideas later but I do detest the ‘paying peanuts to monkeys’ concept. My friend et ESOL Strasbourg is on a mission to sort this and educate bosses about the importance of DELTAs and pay but we’ll still see people scraping the bottom of the barrell. For instance, I was recently offered 10 Euros before tax to teach online and 12 in a school. I’m not big headed but I think I’m worth more than yet and also have to pay travel costs.

      I used to have serious arguments when I was in middle management with my DOS/Director. They wanted top class BE trainers but to pay them the same as gen English teachers. Didn’t work but more of this later.

      So, shall we all sign up for the conspiracy or start a new industry. I have noticed that there’s more and more stuff aimed at teachers now so perhaps that’s the new market.

      Cheers Jem.

      • One of the schools I work for has no pay scale. Every teacher, whether they are fresh off the Celta (or even some with no Celta and just a summer’s experience at a summer camp and perhaps a weekend-TEFL) or have a Delta, get paid the same amount. The differences in pay depend on the type of lesson – in-company classes and exam prep classes pay marginally more than at-school intensive courses (which supposedly have a plan which should make it easier, than therefore cheaper, to teach – whereas actually most teachers I know ignore the plans because they are so incredibly bad..anyway…). Newly qualified teachers are given in-company classes as much as the veterans. Ok, as someone with a Delta, I might be higher up the list in pecking order, but not really. There’s often some huffing and puffing when lots of new teachers are taken on and given company classes when existing teachers are struggling for work. The idea behind this pricing strategy (as the boss sells it to us every year at the AGM), is that it’s “horses for courses”. Meaning, if you have experience in, say, event management, you will be given students who do that job etc…. But in reality, I have had classes at a foil company, a large cosmetics firm teaching the scientists and the corporate social responsibility spokesperson at a coffee company. I am not experience in any of these fields, and therefore am not really the horse for the course.
        Compare this with another school I work for which has a pay scale (which you go onto at different levels depending on your qualifications, experience etc..) AND they pay bonuses each year to their staff AND they give a fair amount of money to a charity which is selected by the staff at Christmas each year too.
        So the question is – why do I bother with the first school? Well, there are a few reasons, but the main one that kept me there from the beginning, and why a lot of my colleagues stay there, is because of the atmosphere in the staffroom, and the fact that there IS a staffroom. For a freelancer, that’s a massive bonus which can’t be ignored.
        Sorry, this has become a little rant!
        You get the idea.

        • Pay scale? I’ve not seen one of those in years. In fact, I’ve not met a person who knows the difference between a DELTA, an MA, the CELTA or a weekend certificate in quite a while. Like Willy mentioned, overseas it’s often “English? English. Hired”.

          Staff rooms.Hmmmm. I had the same in my first FT job, I loved them and all the chat and friendliness until I was FT and I only had 25 minutes for lunch and prep. I also miss my office. Until recently I shared one and that was horrible but I think that’s worth a full post.

          I kinda like being freelance in that I just turn up, teach and leave. No politics, gossip and meetings.

          Back to pay scales, if there isn’t one then you know what you are getting. Either they will plan everything and you are just a photocopy handerouter or exercise doer or they just want basic teaching. Yes, I’d love a place that had a pay scale and hire very qualified people and rewarded them AND supported their development but i don’t know of any left. When I started out we did get those things and this was at a big chain but by 2006 I was teaching 9-12 and 12:30-6, wasn’t sent to any free training and was offered DELTA sponsorship but only if I signed on for 4 years, oh and they reduced our holidays too. That got too much, missing lunch everyday is not fun. I’m sure the crisis hasn’t helped matters as well as increased competition.

          I’m moaning a bit here but how can we complain? We are in an industry where all you need is a 4 week course to work in it and many people don’t even have that. What will be interesting is what happens when all the MA TESOL people graduate. Are there suitable jobs? Some places see it as higher than the DELTA but some unis demand both. Will it also mark the death of the DELTA which is no longer cheap while an MA distance can be 3,500 quid. Some unis let DELTA folk skip the PGCE section but why not have an integrated DELT/MA as there is so much similarity. Personally, I did the MA then looked at the DELTA and thought Mod1 was similar so I just did Mod 3 which was a 5,000 word course design paper compared to a 16,000 dissertation. A combined version sounds better and better not to mention a Phd or Dedu in TESOL.

  2. What it means is that our kids will be wanting to teach/learn Mandarin! TEFL is buried, and TMFL reigns. Sounds like a rude acronym, doesn’t it? 😉

    • TMFL… will the day really come ?

      To be successful, they’d have to start the kids early, just like English these days, or have some kind of immersion classes. The early learning curve is just so high, not to mention that if the current 400 million chinese English-learners already speak better English better than your mandarin…


      • Well….The school next door has content classes in English now and is moving that way for Chinese but there aren’t the teachers. They are running MA TCSOL courses in the mainland and trying to send graduates off to educate the masses but vis problems ensue.

        I used to embarrass my lazy French 3rd years by asking the Chinese student to present as not only was her English better but she also spoke French, Japanese, Chinese and Korean. With the young generation like that we don’t need to learn Chinese as they all speak English and want to. Hats off to them I say. In fact, I’ve never seen so many people keen on learning not only the language but also everything about the culture as in China. They worship western culture and enjoy soaking it up. Do we feel so passionate about learning other languages and cultures? Probably not. I’ve never seen a French corner or rarely adverts for Spanish language buddies or never any students making a pact to only speak German with each other. Go China. 加油

    • I here ya. Even in the UK kids are learning Mandarin at 5. Yes, it may have the biggest number of speakers but there’s a huge range of accents and levels.There’s also the issue of writing, as in Shanghai many companies prefer English keyboards as typing is quicker. It takes me ages to type Chinese.

      I did hear a rumour in the interpreting industry about a new French/German mixed language as a way to keep Europe separate from the US but just look at Esperanto and what happened there. Of course, with China now owning Europe and the US they are after the YEN becoming a currency of trade and possibly pushing Mandarin too. Interesting times ahead 朋友

  3. I see your point, in a European perspective mainly.

    However, for as long as English is the world’s language, there will be a growing market in Brazil and countries with a similar history, which will forever be labelled ‘developing’, meaning education never keeps up with economic growth. Kids are taught English from an early age, but poorly, so they’re still pre-intermediate when they graduate from college, well if they’re lucky. So, in this context the peak may well be in 2060, which means if we’re both lucky we won’t need to worry about it.
    In terms of Mandarin taking over, it’s not gonna happen in that country, it’s just too difficult to learn. Besides, the Chinese are learning English anyway.

    Go to Brazil!

    • Developing? That’s an interesting one Willy. As I look out my window I see people from France, India, Comoria, Mayotte and places I don’t even know. The same people are being labelled as developed/undeveloped/developing by locals but what does it mean if they are in a different environment? Is a person from an African village who is living in a modern council flat and studying English to get a job undeveloped? Whereas, is a native French teacher who has taught the same English courses for 30 years developed?Worth thinking about.

      OK Willy, let’s retire in Brazil before 2060.Anyone else want to join in?

  4. This is extremely Euro / Western / Middle class oriented, isn’t it?. There are plenty of places in the world where English is non existant or low level. Try out a few ESOL classes in the UK for for proof. And it’s not just English that is taught in ESOL but also basic numeracy and literacy skills.
    There are also many high level EFL students with excellent speaking skills but have no idea how to do an academic piece of writing even for IELTS. This is of course also true for many native speakers which I think proves that there is always going to be a market for some kind of English teaching even if / when the world does speak it.

    Nobody should be panicking just yet…

    • Exactly David!!

      I remember at uni one of the trainees was a foreigner (sounds negative I know) but teaching natives how to write academically. This shows that just because you were born in the UK it doesn’t mean you have automatically fantastic English. This used to be a problem with kids in host families who’d walk into class and said “Today’s much betterer than it was yesterday”. This ventures into RP territory or the more modern ‘neutral English’.Where that is I don’t know.

      I once did a sneaky IELTS speaking test on my parents and they only got a 7. I enrolled them in a local EFL school immediately after.This is also to do with having basic communicative competence vs more academic skills or ‘fancy words’ as we say up north.

      So, panic over then, we’ll just teach the northerners to talk proper English. I better move back down south then.

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