ELT on a shoestring/sustainable teaching


We’re in cost-conscious times dear friends. We, our bosses, our schools, our students all of us need to tighten our belts. This means cheaper courses, no pay raises, even cuts and less budgets. Now, we can see this as a problem or an opportunity.

This week I was reading about Zara who have become Spain’s biggest company because they are meeting a demand for affordable clothes. How about in ELT? Yes, some books are cheapish, there are loads of online things you can print off and copy and tons of websites too. But is this enough to run a proper professional course? We need minimum input, minimum price but maximum benefits.

Here are some things I’ve seen tried recently:

1)Class sets of old books reused. No copies needed.

2)Few or no copies, just PDFs or links to materials.

3)More and more videos and MP3s used in classes.

4)Double-sided copies

5)Copies being hoarded and reused in different classes

6)Greater creativity as teachers stretch and develop materials and input.

7)A higher degree of thinking how to teach instead of just printing off a stack of worksheets and following them.

8)Affordable apps and online courses.

It also knocks onto TT too so there seem to be a higher number of degree courses, TT courses and even alternatives to the CELTA/unaccredited courses.

Think about how expensive your CELTA/DELTA was and those Cambridge tests are. Why? Because they are standards but if there were cheaper alternatives accepted we could become teachers for 100/200 Euros maybe and our students could do tests for 10 or 5. Would all this mean lower quality? Perhaps but I think the days of people splashing money round is over.

Even my students are all using Open Office or Google Docs and Linux. All free. Moodle is another one.

So, I’m wondering how to cut costs but keep quality and if it is possible to have a 0 or extremely affordable proper course, not just a series of random worksheets. With this mentality we may get more students and a ‘less is more’ attitude could make us better teachers even.


One thought on “ELT on a shoestring/sustainable teaching

  1. Hi Phil!

    A spot-on post for the times we are going through – completely agree that teachers are cutting down (and we have to) and so are schools and institutions. I even hear this at places where I teach how the employees are doing things to save up on materials and so on.

    In one of the schools I work, we use electroinc means extensively. We have a Moodle platform where we share materials with other teachers and our students, and we also send our students the materials via e-mail, in PDF form.

    I love your closing statement!

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