I’m not proud of myself. I did something yesterday that I feel guilty about.

I happened to be enjoying a nice cuppa in a tiny cafe, so small that you are literally sat with everyone in the place. On my left was a group of young people full of beans and all excited about something. the words ‘teacher’, ‘job’ and ‘pay’ started to get repeated a lot and from what could fathom they were graduate teachers who’d just received their certificates. I remember that day well and their, not unlike many of ours, conversation revolved around:

1)Where am I going to work?

2)Is it a good school?

3)How many ‘points’ will I earn towards extra pay or early retirement

4)How much money will I make

Yes, I used to talk about the same things at that time but nobody was talking about how happy there were to become teachers or what they were looking forward to doing and how they would make a difference.

There is a BIG difference here between these teachers and ones in England in that these people did a free course as are all the other BAs, MAs and Phds. This is why you often meet people who just sign up for a course for fun, because they don’t have a job or that it will help them get a PT job. It may also be why many teachers seem to have a reputation for just becoming teachers for the holidays or the easy life.

In the UK however, education is expensive. I had to save up many years for my MA and then pay more off afterwards. As tuition rates have gone up there’s no way I could afford one now. Same for a Phd. How horrible is that? I can’t AFFORD to become better educated. Here in France, you can apply for whatever and many of my cousin-in-laws are doing MAs or Phds just because there’s no work.

Herein lies a problem in that if education is free then anyone will do anything just because they can. The same when I went to uni. Everyone went to uni just because it cost nothing and you could get a grant and a loan and move out of your parent’s house. When it’s paid for then only people who can afford it will get an education. Does it mean that only dedicated teacher trainees who save up for years to become teachers will do it?? Perhaps not.

Now, if we go further with the FREE education train of thought, what would it be like if all English provision was free? Unis and colleges could open their doors to anyone living in the UK who needed English. This would destroy all the language schools and create a flood of foreigners wouldn’t it? How about if unis just went back to FREE tuition? As unis love foreign students because they pay more normally would we Brits be allowed back in? How would they then choose between Brits and foreigners? The way things are going the cost of tuition will rise and rise and unis will compete on price and become more like brands. England could become the educator of the world’s rich while we Brits are left to do the cleaning and cooking in the canteens.

I wonder if those new teachers realise how lucky they are now have got on a free course and graduate with no debts and now have a pick of good schools which pay more than the UK ones probably?


2 thoughts on “Eavesdropping

  1. English language teaching in the UK was (effectively) free in colleges in the UK under the last government. I taught (free) ESOL in a local college and other language teachers taught (paid for) Cambridge exam classes. I also taught English students English (literacy). Free English did not destroy language schools, neither did it always do a lot for students who were more motivated to work an extra shift at the local factory (overtime) than attend a free lesson.

    With the availability of so much free web based education – Al;ison, the OU openlearn resources and now the US experiment education, for those with broadband, will become free – it is only the certificates that will cost money. It will be interesting to see which degree awarding bodies shed the business of teaching people and who will teach (Cambridge) awards – just like the CELTA/Cert TESOL set up.

    • Cheers for the info Dave.

      I heard that too but I didn’t understand why people were still paying to go to language schools when there were free courses out there. Just devious marketing maybe or did parents just want a whole package ie housing and trips for their kids. I do remember many savvy students would get a refund after the first term as they found cheaper, better or free courses elsewhere.

      I had a Chinese teacher who started off giving free classes and people would sporadically turn up and thought it wasn’t serious but he was really teaching well. Then, he started charging, A LOT and he got more dedicated students. Then he ran workshops, VERY pricey 121s and even weekend intensives and he became almost god-like. He admitted to teaching less and less and ‘bringing things down’ and also to stretching things out. These were both after nights of drinking though. He had a point though that when he really taught the essentials the best he could for free, well, people thought free meant rubbish. At 40 quid an hour people thought it was better and at 60, well…His own teacher then asked why he was charging so much and he explained that it was the only way to get people interested in learning.

      I see lots of online learning for 1 dollar upwards. Many seem to be 10. To me, that doesn’t indicate good quality. I don’t know who can work for that unless it’s all automated.

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