How much are you worth?

The issue of pay has always been a sensitive one. I recently came across 2 adverts which shocked me, both concerned pay:

1)La rémunération proposée est de 17,00 € Brut /heure.

=17 Euros before any taxes=13 euros an hour

2)Our online school offers qualified teachers $9 per class before tax

=7 Euros an hour

Both jobs only require a ‘TEFL certificate’ ie even a weekend one would be valid. Neither job pays higher depending on qualifications or experience and neither school has the possibility of getting a better/higher paid teaching post as there aren’t any.

The fat has truly been trimmed! As more online schools pop up it’s not uncommon to see 10 Euro an hour jobs.

Of course, the first job may seem better paid but think about….travel time, travel cost, prep time, no/few materials. While the second has all the online materials ready to use. So which is better now?

Also, perhaps we can class the 1st as a small language school but the second is from one of many internet schools which seem to be the first wave. More will come and with competition and increased supply comes price competition and lower salaries.

I know both places and neither knows the DELTA or what an MA TESOL is. Is this the future and if so what the heck can we do about it?

Back in the day DELTA qualified people were only on about £2 an hour more than CELTA teachers and the MA was the same. I’m still to meet more than a couple of bosses nowadays who pay for experience as they always use the old argument that “you have a lot of experience but not in this industry/field/area/town/school/classroom” as an excuse to pay you the same as a CELTA grad.

I don’t think this is fair so I propose this:

CELTA grad = basic pay

DELTA grad = at least 20% more and eligibility to apply for higher posts

MA = at least 25% more

PGCE should also be recognised

Experience pay bands

1 year



The problem is of course that after 6 years you won’t go up a band or that a CELTA bloke who works there for 6 years might be on the same pay as an MA guy who starts now.

I understand why schools may offer low salaries for straight out of CELTA/no experience but without growth/promotion opportunities people won’t stay in EFL.

So, how much are you worth an hour? 20 Euros, 30, 50?? And why?? How about for 121’s?


35 thoughts on “How much are you worth?

  1. Hi Phil,

    Another interesting post – my current employers operate a pay scale very similar to the model you propose (the increments are less generous!) – there is a basic salary which is then complemented in two way, years of experience teaching “in a recognised environment” and additional increments for teacher training or development courses undertaken. In this model, the DELTA is 4% on top of salary. Interestingly, and a point I hope to raise, Masters degrees don’t feature in the chart.

    Your post struck a chord – I wrote about this, though approaching it from the other direction, back in November – more from the point of view what do you do that justifies your pay grade:

    Thanks for the post!


    • Hi again David.

      You are becoming a regular.

      Sounds good but no MA recognition?? Maybe they are unaware of MA TESL/TESOL etc?

      Another point is ‘what you do with a DELTA?’

      I’ve seen teachers that just do it to get extra pay but others to become senior teachers, ADOS …

      This creates a problem in that some senior teachers may have less experience than teachers, ADOS’s too. If more teachers ave the DELTA/MA and many years of exp than senior management then it creates a ‘lower level power base of knowledge’. An example, is where senior teachers or an ADOS have to go to normal teachers for academic help. Yes, this may be good for ‘team morale’ but shouldn’t the people higher up with more pay be helping those lower down?

      In the past, I worked for bosses with few or no ELT qualifications and it makes it hard to ‘talk the same language’. In worse cases, it could cause frustration. Then teachers ‘going it on their own’. I’ve seen several successful teacher do this in Germany. They become their own brand and a ‘consultant’. Maybe that’s another option for DELTA grads who don’t want to go into management.

      What do you think?

      • I’ve since enquired ref MA – apparently it’snot on the official chart because MA is too broad a term and some MA programmes are not applicable to the business (e.g. an MA Chemical Engineering?). Where it’s a TEFL MA, increments would be decided on a case by case basis.
        Why do the DELTA? To be a better teacher! And in my case to make myself more marketable – it’s a desirable qualification for people hiring language teachers.
        Personally, the example you describe of academic management looking for help among the ranks, I don’t see as a problem. I’m a Senior teacher but I frequently talk to my “less qualified” colleagues about aspects of teaching and get their advice, hints and tips, especially with YL classes. I don’t see this as undermining my position at all.
        At a previous school, I think there were about 40 teachers total, six senior staff (four with Deltas two without) and an additional two or three deltas in the teaching staff. It really wasn’t a problem.

        • Hi again David,

          Yes, I had that too. In fact, I created and ran an MA course for years but it wasn’t really a ‘proper one’.

          Same for PGCE’s.

          Sounds like you worked in a great place. I remember in one school senior teachers got a bit bossy at times and part of their job was to ‘observe’ teachers as opposed to helping them. I was interested in becoming one but I’ve seen many who just have admin tasks or spent hours reordering CDs. Shouldn’t they be making courses, arranging training, supporting and encouraging teachers? Or do we need them at all? Would a flat structure work best where everyone is paid the same and has the same title? I used to hate ‘who gets paid more and why?’ discussions. I was lucky enough in one school to create my own job and job description and in it I included supporting and training co-workers (doing same course as I was the head) and creating materials and courses as well as managing them. In the end I ended up being a sort of senior teacher but without the pay. I really enjoyed helping staff as I tried to help them to avoid all the problems I had when I started. It was tough and very time consuming as I had people come to see me and students all the time and I had to cover a lot.

          When I first started out we had a DOS, ADOS, Director, 4 senior teachers, 2 all year co-ordinators, 1 PT course co-ordinator, 1 head of Business courses, 1 co-ordinator of Business courses, then FT and contract teachers. Then in another building there was a corporate DOS, assistant, secretary and various PT staff. I have no idea how they decided pay.

          In my job last year there were 7 teachers, all the DOS and secretary responsibilities had been delegated down so each teacher was responsible for a different class, group and year, as well as different duties. I had to have a list of all this on my desk as it was so confusing. Trust me, teaching was the LAST priority.

          Thanks again for the info about your experiences, it’s very interesting.

  2. Very interesting post. There is a lot to think about.

    I am curious why (in your proposed system) an MA would be paid more than a DELTA. I am not in a hiring position but I think I would be much more likely to hire (and pay more if needed) someone with a DELTA than an MA. To my mind an MA often means that people can read/write papers but doesn’t say much about classroom anything. Just my personal opinion I suppose.

    Also, you write, “The problem is of course that after 6 years you won’t go up a band or that a CELTA bloke who works there for 6 years might be on the same pay as an MA guy who starts now.” I am not sure if I see this as a problem. I don’t mean to overrate experience (or downplay MAs) but I think there is an extremely large learning curve for those with an MA and no experience and I would be much more likely to hire the CELTA with experience.

    Take care!

    • Well, an MA is an academic qualification and higher than a DELTA which is only recognised in EFL. Even though they now say the DELTA is equivalent. But if you want to do a PhD you need an MA and most unis want an MA. Well, this is my experience.

      Yes, I agree. If I wanted an EFLer I would go with the DELTA but perhaps for more academic subjects or content classes an MA grad would be good.

      Interesting point. So you would prefer a CELTA grad with experience? I think I was always told that “we learn on the job” and when I did my CELTA they even pushed us (they showed us job offers in their contact schools) to go abroad for 2 years minimum. I guess this is probably still true. I definitely think a postgrad who goes straight into an MA with no CELTA is just doing a class-based course with nothing to reflect one BUT…I know a lot who have done this, mainly foreign students. This guarantees them a job back home teaching English at a uni and a good career.

      The current trend seems to be CELTA, DELTA, MA but some are now skipping the DELTA bit. Doing all 3 is expensive and I’ve been in a few posts where everyone gets the same. If I’d have had sense I would have stayed in a language school done the DELTA (half financed) and then thought about the MA later on.

      I keep seeing more and more MA TESOL courses and as the DELTA is getting pricey the MA seems a better for learning but if it won’t get you the pay then why do it?

      Thanks for the post Mike.

      • Just to jump in on this point Phil – Both DELTA and MA are listed at Level 7 qualifiications in the UK NQF – if memory serves the CELTA comes in at level 4?

        I’d agree with Mike – given the choice I’d hire the CELTA + experience over MA and no experience. (this conversation crosses over with your CELTA DELTA MA Post!). The MA teaches you about language and about teaching, but in my experience it’s more theoretical – gives you great background knowledge to draw upon, but if I was hiring? Classroom experience every time!

        • Yes, experience works well in the UK. Isn’t that why we put experience all over our CV but qualifications at the bottom? From my work in France and Asia I’d say that it is the opposite.

          What this means in practicality I think is that a DELTA/Exp teaching can ‘hit the ground running’ but an MA person would need to do a CELTA really UNLESS they were given lecturing/content courses. I used to teach linguistics and dissertation writing which didn’t work when it was just writing for the sake of writing. When I changed it and did linguistics, pragmatics, learning theories, teaching approaches etc combined with how to write about them, it worked very well. For info, the students were studying languages and had to choose one of those topics for their research.

  3. I think there’s a need to ‘educate the market’ – schools pay low wages because they can get away with it – but if schools could market themselves on a quality basis (and pay experienced staff correspondingly) then it might improve things.

    I’d be wary of years of experience = potential as a manager – teaching and management are different roles, and it doesn’t necessarily follow that being good at one wll make you good at the other – I do think that you need a good knowledge of ELT teaching to be able to be a manager, but I’m not sure that the most experienced people are necessarily the most suitable..

    • Hmmm.

      But would every student be willing to pay for quality? There’ll also be a big gap in the market for cheap+nasty (sounds bad) like 1 pound shops. There’s also the issue that many students wouldn’t know/appreciate the difference between a DELTA/MA teacher and one with the CELTA.Some even employ people with no qualifications.I really would like places to pay for higher quals and offer ‘premium training’ but this only probably exists in Germany from what I hear.

      If a 121 corporate lesson teacher were to get 30 Euros an hour his boss would expect about double and who would pay that? Of course, the easy option is to cut out the middle men and do classes direct I guess.

      EXACTLY! I think teaching and management are different careers, skills and attitudes, you can’t just skip to being a DOS. I agree that they should have ELT knowledge but should they have an MBA or a Business background or have been a business person, moved to EFL and then go into management? It’s a tough list of conditions to meet.Same for BE teachers as some want business people or people with a business degree etc etc.

      It’s a tough nut to crack I think.

      Cheers Phil

      • “Hmmm.

        But would every student be willing to pay for quality? There’ll also be a big gap in the market for cheap+nasty (sounds bad) like 1 pound shops. There’s also the issue that many students wouldn’t know/appreciate the difference between a DELTA/MA teacher and one with the CELTA.Some even employ people with no qualifications.I really would like places to pay for higher quals and offer ‘premium training’ but this only probably exists in Germany from what I hear.

        If a 121 corporate lesson teacher were to get 30 Euros an hour his boss would expect about double and who would pay that? Of course, the easy option is to cut out the middle men and do classes direct I guess.”

        I agree with your concern – I don’t think many people do pay for quality, but I think that is the reason for the situation being as it is… Unless we can demonstrate to learners the value of having ‘serious’ qualifications it won’t change…. the worrying implication is that if we can’t, maybe it shouldn’t (don’t think I agree with that – but it’s a question to consider)

        Re ELT management – I don’t think it necessarily needs business experience or an MBA – but there are certain qualities someone has to have, which may not necessarily be those of an experienced teacher. Having said that – there might be some cross over, a lot of these ‘leadership’ type qualities are probably useful for a teacher to have: Charisma, communication skills, ability to persuade, decisiveness, sound judgement, coaching/motivational skills, etc… Maybe a good teacher will be a good manager?

        • Yes, we do need to push for quality but if every school said “we are only going to charge…” is that price fixing? I do think paying teachers 10 Euros is a joke and will only attract recent grads, and maybe not even that, and will put people off from EFL.

          I’d say that at least 3 EFL teachers in my old London school used to quit the industry a year because they said they didn’t make enough. They usually went back to their old jobs. Other were having a ‘gap year’ or some a ‘part-time job’. If it had paid properly they would have stayed. Having higher pay for DELTA/MA etc would also encourage people to do them and yes, create better courses.

          Another option is (I’ve seen it in practice) that CELTAs just do book-based GE, DELTAs do exam prep and option classes like pron and EAP and DELTA/MAs do Uni prep and content courses. At the time the pay was about 12 pounds, 14 and then about 30 because the latter teachers were uni teachers and/or employed via agencies.

          Thanks for another great comment Phil.

          • Was that school concerned about teachers leaving? I hope they were, but fear they weren’t… I guess their business model just about worked…

            The different kind of courses model sounds a good idea, that provides some recognition for skills gained – would have hoped that a DELTA was worth more than a £2 premium though…

            • Don’t think so judging by the files of CVs they received every week.

              Do you know how much extra schools pay for DELTA now? Or even for senior teachers? I teach in higher ed so nobody even knows what a DELTA is.

              • I work in FE – where people are aware of DELTAs, but they are not really recognised. As a result they don’t really have any impact on earnings.There’s a parallel set of qualifications for teaching ESOL (at Level 5, as opposed to L7 for the DELTA), but most ESOL teachers have taken a CELTA to start out and I think most trainers have a Diploma qual from Cambridge or Trinity. I’m doing a DELTA just because I think it’ll help my practice.

                In FE, there is some kind of career structure and salaries do increase with experience (through not quite automatic annual increments), once required qualifications have been gained. Is that similar in higher ed?

                • Not recognised? I thought so. I’ve applied for FE/HE jobs that wanted the MA or even both but then again I was offered a uni course tutor position when I was half way through the MA and had no DELTA so nothing is certain. I also got turned down for a London school that didn’t recognise the MA at all.

                  It’s a mess, let’s face it. But if the MA is not recognised or ‘useful’ to some, then is it just being pushed as a product while the DELTA is more picky and is an important part of the EFL industry? Just look in EFL journals, they are full of TESOL/TEFL MA courses and the numbers grow every year.

  4. The pay structure of most TEFL establishments in the UK, some countries in continental Europe, and Asian countries highly influenced by the British Council way of life operate in the same fashion of other professions which are marked by low-educated workers, who: carry operational jobs (as opposed to intellectual), work by the clock (log in/out), need unions and minimum wage policies behind since the work has little monetary value and the workers are disempowered and oppressed, do not need a specialized degree (3 years min.), can be easily trained and hence easily replaced, and the list goes on and on. Make your conclusions.

    To give you a different perspective. In all schools I worked with in Brazil (one of the few places where fortunately CELTA is not a requirement, in fact no one really cares about it), there was a structure (more or less) which would define one’s entry pay rate. After you understand what the job demands and your employer can have a picture of your performance; it’s all negotiable – case by case. In other words, a “free market” where the ratio between supply and demand matters; where individual quality cannot be standardized. Where, also, you can hire a great teacher and pay little because he doesn’t know his value, and hire a native-speaker who’s an idiot and pay a lot because students like native-speakers and there aren’t many around. You can see it as an unequal system and moan, or as a competitive system and play the game. But I think that in the end if you’re really great, you’ll get what you want. And if you don’t, change professions because maybe you’re not that great.

    Another important consideration: In both scenarios, there are places for the average teacher whose ambitions don’t go as far as taking a DELTA or MA, and these are the majority, the market operates according to the majority.

    And ultimately:
    Students don’t care what qualifications you have or how much you make. They want lessons that make them want to come back.

    • I think I know the type Willy. I knew one guy in China who came in with no CELTA or real teaching experience but ‘negotiated’ the same pay as us older timers and had managed to only teaching speaking so all the other classes had to be given to us.

      I also get a lot of “how much do you charge”? Which seems to imply there’s some space for negotiation. The strategy I used to see was teachers standing up in meetings and saying “no, I’m going back to the UK”. This normally got them what they wanted.

      Yes, I completely agree that most students want enjoyable classes they make them want more. Language schools are businesses so students are customers and you always have to give them what they want. The problem is when you have students who want to really learn in a group with ones who just want fun.

      I’ve been thinking the whole situation over and I think it’s a bit like doctors who go to work in private clinics/hospitals where money takes priority over helping people. I got into teaching to help students but when it’s your living and you need to keep your students/bosses happy then your priority is not always ‘education’. I don’t like seeing teaching as just another’job’ but when you’re freelance and you have to please clients, do accounts etc then it’s hard not to.

  5. I think Phil, I’ve worked out where we’re all going wrong.

    I think the problem is that we all persist in thinking of language teaching in terms of the educational benefits to students and pedagogical implications for teachers. We forget that at the end of the day, this is a by product of a business relationship between the school owners/managers and the customers/students. The teachers, don’t really factor into this kind of decision making process.

    Most of us work in a free market economy. Well, actually I work in Portugal, which could be said to demonstrate aspects of a free market economy, but that’s another issue. What I mean is that my school is first and foremost a business. If we don’t get enough students through the doors and signed up, we can’t afford to pay any teachers, regardless of whether they have a delta and MA. But students provide the income, so the teachers’ job is to make sure they retain as many students as possible for as long as possible. I’ve seen some teachers who manage on sheer force of personality alone get away with some of the most terrible lesson imaginable. Equally, I’ve seen teachers who consider every last detail and plan late into the night struggling to keep the confidence of the class. Keep the customers happy – that surely, is any owner manager’s first requirement. (And don’t think you bods out there in HE/FE are immune from this……!)

    Secondly – basic rule of the labour market – there is always some other bugger out there who’s willing to do your job for less money than you do. This makes them eminently attractive to your employers who like things like reduced costs. Given the choice between two teachers, one of whom wants more money than the other, which am I going to choose? On a cost basis?

    It becomes a financial decision. You get what you pay for. I can take my car to an authorised dealership for it’s service and pay €500 for the privilege, or I can take it to the bloke down the road and pay €50. If the car still runs at the end of the day? Who would you choose? And why should language learning be any different?

    (Sorry if this seems a bit rantish…. it’s been a tough week!)


    • Exactly. It is business and business is about money and students are the income.

      I used to work at one of the biggest language chains and it was a real business. They had finance depts, marketing depts, admin depts etc. They opened a new franchise almost every week and they were just like kits ie the new bosses got a list of instructions, materials and info and just followed them.

      I recall that in London there were lots of tiny schools on oxford street all competing with each other. Students would start at 1 and end up somewhere else. Price was one issue and success if they had specific goals like passing FCE. Other all year students were sent by parents so were just there for a year off with no real need to reach a goal. They often just wanted fun and actually didn’t want serious learning, as many told me. This is why the activities depts were always very important. What is crazy is that some of these students pay 2/3 k a year just to learn English.

      Good teachers=good teaching but a lot of these places just want someone to deliver their pre-planned lessons or book in a fun way or just to entertain students and keep them happy. I used to get told off for being too strict and serious. I still am but a bit less.

  6. I teach high school English in Seoul, have a CELTA and I’m coming to the end of my M.A. Although I would not go back to working for private language institutions, in Korea anyway, I have thought about establishing my own in the future. I have always said I would never hire a teacher without a CELTA (or Trinity College) certification. Personally I think some of the methods in the CELTA are questionable, however it does start to make teachers think about what they do in class and how they do it. However, from an employment point of view this, for me, isn’t the most important thing. The fact that a teacher was willing to go through the expense, time and stress to get their qualification shows that they are serious about delivering quality lessons, that they’re not just another backpacker trying to make a quick buck. That was why I got my CELTA, because I wanted to be able to demonstrate that I’m serious about what I do, having a CELTA doesn’t magically turn someone into a good teacher, but it does show their desire for self-improvement.

    With regards to my experiences on the M.A TESOL, if I were ever to hire an academic manager this is the qualification I would expect as the M.A course goes into theoretical practice that a CELTA just doesn’t, and I also don’t think that experience would be equivalent. I’m not saying having an M.A TESOL necessarily means someone is a better teacher that someone without, not at all, but for a management position the skills and knowledge it provides you with I think are important. For example, you wouldn’t ask the most experienced builder in the world to design a sky scraper for you, you would ask an architect with a degree in architecture. But, you also wouldn’t ask an architect straight out of college to design a sky scraper for you, you would want experience.

    The problem to do with pay and experience isn’t a problem that the ESL industry faces alone, most industries face this dilemma. I would hope that the reason people get these qualifications isn’t for the money, as lets be honest, none of us are going to get rich in this industry! I would hope people get these qualifications for professional development, and, because, we want to differentiate ourselves from the backpacker ESL teacher stigma. Should people with these qualifications be paid more? I’m not sure about that, but they should allow us to access different jobs to those with the same experience, but without the additional qualifications.

    • Hi Alex,

      I’ve known a few backpackers and uni grads out for a year off and sadly these are increasingly common but who else would travel the world and teacher abroad for low pay? I met a teacher in China who asked my why I was teaching at my age (30+) as all the other teachers were 21/22. The result was that students wanted these ‘cool dudes’ as one put it.

      I did my courses for myself and my career. I couldn’t afford 4k+ just for fun, not to mention the amount of time and sacrifices I’ve made. I do think that having a DELTA/MA and just staying as a GE teacher is silly, schools should encourage those people to become senior teachers etc. I have a friend who has the DELTA and a PGCE and she has been teaching GE for over 10 yrs in the same school. She is more experienced and qualified than most of the other staff but she must be bored and frustrated. Yes, she gets paid a bit more but I have a friend with a PhD who gets the same as people with nothing (different school).

      On that note, when you graduate with a DELTA/MA you see things differently and realise what works and doesn’t. You may thus find it difficult to work in places that obviously do not have the right approach. So, should those people set up their own schools/freelance business or even apply to be a DOS?

      • Hi!

        Ye, I meet a lot of backpackers/uni grads here, and plenty of them are good friends of mine. You’re absolutely right when you ask who else would do the job for low pay? I know what you mean about ‘cool dude’ teachers!! It sounds like we did our courses for the same reasons, not necessarily for the extra pay, but to further our careers and become better teachers (though one would hope that this eventually results in better pay).

        What you say about seeing things differently after having an M.A/DELTA, and I would say even CELTA to a lesser extent, I also completely agree with. It’s exactly why I couldn’t go back to teaching in private institutions in Korea, walking into a classroom with no prep time and ready made sub-standard materials? I just couldn’t do it! Now I get to create all my own lessons and materials, this gives me much more job satisfaction, and although I currently don’t get paid significantly more than a private institution counter part with no qualifications, I end the day significantly more satisfied than I would if I were in their role (that’s not say their not satisfied as perhaps they have very different goals). I guess that’s why, for me, it’s not so much about the extra money, but the job the extra qualifications allow me to do.

        In answer to your final questions, I think they should do whatever they feel is best for them and gives them the most job satisfaction, but having those qualifications does at least provide them with the options should they want to freelance, be a DOS or set up their own academy.

        • Yes, even doing the CELTA changes you but I don’t think some of it has helped me as I’ve worked in places that didn’t want a TEFL approach.

          Oh yes, I used to get asked to make courses that a teacher could ‘pick up and teach’ ie with no prep. This meant no arguments over paid/unpaid prep time.

          When I did the CELTA I was offered a job in a big EFL school and the tutors said “it’s good for start but then you should find a proper school”. Well, I still don’t know what that meant. There are the big famous schools but I don’t know if they pay better or offer proper contracts, FE was also what many wanted to do but it was tough to get into, British unis are even harder. One asked for CELTA, DELTA, MA TESOL, Cambridge examiner status, 5 yrs+ exp in higher ed and to be doing or have finished a PhD. This is crazy, how many people fit that?

          Of course, we are skating over the issue of pay. We pay for our DELTA and MA which is about 7k, we also pay for the CELTA and for a PhD. Whereas, teachers in France get all their studies free. This means I’ve been for interviews with locals with Phd’s but no EFL teaching qualifications but their fluency in L1/2 and their higher studies often gets them the job. With tuition fees rising I think we’ll see less people doing MAs,DELTAs and even CELTAs and degrees. After all, if you have to pay a lot you want that money back and quick. Maybe a BA Ed with a TEFL option is the best or just doing a 3 yr BA and a quick CELTA.

  7. Personally, I don’t think that qualifications should necessarily be linked directly to pay. I have worked with many successful teachers who “only” had a CELTA to their name and I have worked with a great many douchebags who had a dip. What I DO think is that qualifications can be regarded as gatekeeping qualifications for better remunerated jobs.

    So, if somebody was a CELTA holder, they would be able to apply for jobs at one place in the hierarchy – presumably as teachers or language assistants. Coordinators or teachers with coordinating duties would have a diploma (or a rationale explaining why they are in position without one) or equivalent. Managers would not need any qualification post-dip, but would be expected to be appointed to the post for their managerial experience or potential.

    ELT pay is an issue that is unlikely to go away and is linking, thinketh I, to the non-status that we have as ELT workers. We are not “professionals” in any widely-understood sense of the term, nor does such a thing look like a possibility. We tend to work in a huge variety of contexts that confounds any hope of regulation.

    My solution: make ELT a proper profession – require teachers to take a PGCE in ELT rather than a CELTA. Let teaching in other countries be pegged to the average teaching salary in other countries and protected by the same agreements that teachers have struck with their employers in other places. Of course, we would have to kiss goodbye to those contracts in some countries that would allow us to earn hundreds of times the value of a “normal” teacher’s salary (and that nobody ever seems to complain too much about!), but we would gain more status and raise the standards of our work.

    Apologies for the brevity (or perhaps “apologies” is the wrong word!) – a train beckons…

    • Douchebags with Dips or Dip Douchebags? I’d love to see that on their name badge.

      Yes, it does feel like we are not regarded as ‘professionals’ sometimes, well a lot of times. But saying that, we probably have more read/attended journals, conferences, online webinars and publications than some ‘proper’ professions.

      PGCE in ELT?I’m for that. I did a PGCE with an English specialism and we were looked down on a bit by the BA Ed lot who seemed to think that 1 year was not enough to learn how to teach. They may have a point but at least at a post-grad level you should, in theory, be getting more challenging stuff. The only problem is cost, mine was free at the time but I doubt they are now.

      Having an International/European teaching qualification would be good too (I’ll moan about the French situation in my next post). When I was in Asia I earned a ‘local salary’ which was lower than some local teachers. This was fine at the start but as costs rose and salaries I was left behind to live the life of a student/factory worker. Thus, I sought extra work via the ‘expat circle’ and found that some of these folk were living like kings because they had been sent by European schools/companies and earned a normal European salary.

      The CELTA has a lot to answer for in that it’s only 4 weeks as thus not really valued/recognised. Yes, it will get you a job but a proper PGCE, BA, MA would set a proper standard for a real profession. The current situation is a mess and some schools don’t even have accreditation. I worked some of these places and they are just a few people teaching whatever to who ever they can get and cash in hand in a dodgy brown envelope handed over under the table at the pub is not the image we want.

      So, when you sort out a PGCE in EFL send me an ad and I’ll post it. That way we could scrap the CELTA, DELTA and even MA. That would save a lot of money and time. I’m all for it!!

  8. Philmeister General,

    Obviously, the majority of seasoned teachers has sat through this type of conversation more times than they could care to mention. A common trait that I have found is that the ones in the pub who moan the loudest are often not the best teachers…I can say this after having done peer observations with them. And when I say not the best, I mean in terms of student activity, lack of motivating students, lack of acheived learner outcomes etc

    Let me be absolutely crystal clear, I am in no way implying that you or any of the other learned comentors here are bad teachers…you know personally that I respect your work for example.

    Anyway, in these conversations, I have obviously agreed that teacher pay is a problem, but I always ask, ‘What is your suggestion/proposal then?’, hoping for a radical idea/solution. It’s generally met with “more pay for every teacher”, which I think is a naive and egocentric answer not taking into any account that it is a business (as discussed in detail in other comments above) with innumerable factors involved (experience/qualifications/student satisfaction for specific entertaining teachers etc)

    That’s why I like your post, because at least there is an attempt to put a framework down, rather than just blindly shouting for ‘more’.

    To try to eliminate the ‘travellers’ that drive DOWN pay levels (although some may be delivering great lessons for a certain type of learner) I would like to see the CELTA being a 6-month course. Why not? People would then REALLY have to want to teach before undergoing such a mammoth training (comparative to current 1-month CELTA). Hopefully, this would also drive up the basic teaching level, rather than turfing out people who scraped through, a let’s be honest, quite basic training qualification and then ‘learn-on-the-job’. But coupled with a rise in commited, qualified teachers there needs to be an understanding and awareness from customers/students (and therefore schools, too) that it’s only acceptable to be taught by someone with the most basic qualification, not just because they are a native speaker. It’s mind boggling that people accept a native speaker as a teacher of that language. It’s like someone saying, “Yes, I can operate life-saving surgery on your child because I’ve watched every single episode of ER three times and I know all the right medical words and procedures”

    However, a huge problem is that it is a global industry, so it is impossible to apply a standard across it. ALthough in a utopian world I would do this:

    1. Have a 6-month CELTA that you are not allowed to teach English anywhere in the world without

    2. Every course offered by any school has a standardised description that a customer can digest before enrolling. The description would include the learner outcomes, which are obviously easier to describe in EAP, IELT, TOEFL, CAE of course.

    More importantly though would be the inclusion of the teacher’s qualifications and experience. Also, perhaps a description of the teacher’s style like “Strict and serious” [is that for you, Phil 🙂 ], “Fun, chatty, jokey and making students laugh is my aim”….whatever! But that would perhaps direct types of learners to types of teachers.

    If every school adopted this policy and it became an internationally recognised part of purchasing English lessons, then fly-by-night schools that have a high turnover of staff because of bad pay/bad treatment of teachers and only attracting travellers would soon find themselves in big trouble. With students, It would soon get around between friends, families, colleagues etc that ‘this school tells you exactly who the teacher is, what they have done before and what they’re like’. Every customer wants a good deal primarily, but also good service!

    Of course then the argument would be that the ‘kids’ with only their CELTA and not a description listing 5 years of teaching would never be able to get a job. Well, that’s the same in every industry, isn’t it? Live with it. A way round it could be that course with inexperienced teachers are the equivalent of €0.10 cheaper per session to purchase. You get what you pay for. It’s there in the description.

    Fewer schools would mean increased student numbers in the remaining ones, so they could afford to pay higher salaries. In turn, they could then adopt renumeration scales as you have suggested above and the whole situation starts to look and feel more like a professionalised industry.

    Of course, this is a utopian ideal and I’m sure there are innumerable holes in this proposal. It’s just something that I came up with and I wanted to contribute something instead of just being a silent nobody that lies back, thinks of England and accepts the situation as it is.

    • Cheers Bren.

      A 6 month CELTA. I like it but I also like the 9 mth PGCE TESOL course mentioned by another commenter. It should be a government qualification I think as it would pack more weight. Cambridge should do some kind of joint thing because the whole CELTA relies on the reputation of Cambridge ESOL and is only a certificate but saying that the only reason I survived a PGCE was because I learnt to teach via CELTA. We were never taught that really at uni.

      I’ve seen the teacher profiles in some schools and online schools and it gets a bit competitive. Teachers may get professional photos done and even airbrushing.

      I do agree that paying more money for no reason won’t help anything. I know people with no CELTA on 40Euros an hour and MA+ people on 10. That’s not fair so first needs sorting out. Having a set fair pay scale is important for fair pay and to see where you will be in 5/10 years. EFL schools sometimes lack a career path as there are few senior teacher jobs and only 1 ADOS. I used to get yearly rises in one job but it meant nothing as it was for inflation so I actually ended up worse off.

      At one point I applied to practically every school in London and only found a handful who gave FT contracts and none gave a salary sufficient enough to live on but that’s the industry. If you want money do something else. The sooner you accept that the happier you’ll be.

      1 question I asked in another post was is it worth going freelance and getting your own clients/students? I’ve seen people set up as IELTS/TOEIC tutors and corporate trainers. At 60 Euros an hour you’d only need a few students. This would solve the issue of middlemen and teacher pay but it would have to be run like a real business.

      • The good thing about the Trinity Certificate (CELTA, but different examining board) that I did was that you had to teach on the very first afternoon and it never let up. A baptism of fire, but it works, I think. 6 or 9 months of that would separate the wheat from the chaff straight away. If that was globally accepted as the absolute bare minimum for TEFL, you’ve got no probs with gap year gurus.

        Re the profiles/Description: I’m afraid photos are a fact of life. In Germany, for instance every CV has to have a photo and they are done professionally. Even ugly bastard Board of Director dudes have them done, don’t they? It’s commonplace in most countries and industries, so why should TEFL be the exception that shies away from it?

        Your last point: I am both in schools and freelance, though moving increasingly towards the latter…and yes, I run it like a business with everything that entails.
        I give my students top value (One example – I’ve got 100% pass rate of all my students that did exam prep etc) and I work extremely hard to achieve that. Therefore, I charge top whack. Anyone who doesn’t want top quality and objective improvement for more money can go and traipse through years of low-cost, low-quality teaching – No skin off my nose. Higher investment on the students’ part also increases their self-motivation. It’s a win-win 🙂

        • I think we taught on the 2nd or 3rd.PGCE-wise we started properly after a couple of months but each block was a month/2 months long and inbetween we had lessons too all in different places.

          Yes, I was talking about Germany.I used to have a photo and a silly description about how I liked….I worked in one place this rented classes to teachers in that teachers advertised in the school and if they got 3+ enrolments they got a class and paid minus the room fee. The result was lots of posters for teachers everywhere with photos and stories of them, free advertising lectures, trial classes, free gifts and lots of criticism of other teachers. Personally, I don’t like advertising myself in a school against my colleagues. A photo and a short description is fine I guess but nothing more. We had to make video CVs in one place for the web.

          High cost high quality. That’s EXACTLY what we need Bren! Why go with a school who’ll take all the money. I guess you have to be good at marketing, accounting, CRM too though? My friend does it and his partner is his sort of manager.

          • Jeepers… that ‘poster’ school sounds like a nightmare! I told you that there were pickable holes in my ‘plan’! 🙂

            One of my past schools that I worked for was solely aimed at the high-end business market. They were charging around €50 p/hr and paying the teachers €12. Now, of course I understand that there are overheads and taxes etc, but that’s absolutely unfair. I left very quickly and the students still wanted me. They said that the previous teachers they had with that school were useless (and travellers) and they didn’t learn anything – just chatted about what they had done at the weekend…ie no semblance of Business English. Just goes to show that a school with a pro image and good PR can get away with murder.

            So, I took a few clients with me, split the difference and charged them €30 p/hr. They are still my clients 2 years later…paying more due to inflation and my increased qualifications.

            As you said in an earlier comment, you don’t need a lot of students when you charge a proper price for a proper service. So that’s why I don’t need CRM yet, buddy. At this low student number level, the CRM is manageable with a bit of common sense and attention to detail.

            • Yes, other teachers used to doodle on their competition.

              WOW.That’s a serious profit margin!

              You sound like you are doing well Bren. I saw an online seminar via TESOL FRANCE last year by a guy who set up his own thing and now employs other teachers but he does A TON of PR stuff from sponsoring events, to paying for huge dinners and even to running marathons. He said it was all worth it but wouldn’t it be easier just having a PR guy? I remember going for after work drinks with corporate clients in London but crept off before they hit the clubs and karaoke. They knew how to party and the school’s staff were there to pretty much indulge whatever needs they had be it drink, food or singing. I’m not good at all that stuff really so would probably fluff it up. Another thing my uncle does is golf. He plays with his existing or potential clients and changes his game as needed. Again, I’m not a golfer.

              So, it looks like I’m more a worker bee but going solo does have its benefits. Maybe I need a social dynamo like Brad P to be my partner.

  9. I used to be worth about the equivalent of 30 Euros per hour teaching a class of 15 +. Now, I’m worth about that or slightly less teaching one to one. ESL doesn’t pay extremely well, but I guess not many are in this industry for the pay.

    But we have a very good skill. Put on your entrepreneurial hat and there is a lot of things that can be done and lots of money that can be earned with what we have. Tons of people want to learn English and would pay for a good teacher!

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