The truth is, of course, often stranger than fiction, and this article, written by the excellent Tefl-sleuth Melanie Butler of the EL Gazette, puts the reality of it all into sharp focus. I'll just concentrate my two-pennorth on two or three aspects of the article, the ones that most get me SO fuggin' angry!
Firstly, the saddest of sad truths is that there are some accredited private language schools in London charging just over a quid per class hour for general English courses, which apparently makes them cheaper than many language schools in China! Apparently, in the land of the billion squinty-eyed students, the hourly rates in many Chinese EFL schools are the equivalent of £1.80–4.50. By way of illuminating contrast, Ielts classes in India now cost £2 per hour - still more costly than many London schools!
OK, those were extreme examples, but take a look at this, direct from the article:
"The average price across London for the same course type is £6.40 per hour, compared with £6.66 an hour in 1987 – a drop in real terms of 66 per cent over the 22-year period."
As the article points out, these very low fees are leading to decreasing hourly rates for London EFL teachers, which range from £8–13 (equivalent to 9.20–15 Euros). To hammer home the point, Ms Butler notes that hourly rates for EFL teachers in Dublin and Madrid stand at 19–24 Euros, whilst there is a legal minimum rate of 15.88 Euros in France. So, we can't even keep up with our European colleagues on salaries!
The section that really infuriates me is this, though: "many teachers are forced to work long hours and the British Council, which specifically excludes terms and conditions from its accreditation criteria, has accredited schools where teachers routinely work 45 hours per week. "
Yes, that's right. The 'good old' British Council is essentially colluding with shoddy EFL school owners by deliberately turning a blind eye to a situation that can not in any way be said to work for the benefit of the students or the teachers. Only the crafty school owners derive any advantage from this state of things, in which teachers are overworked and underpaid. Well done, BC - I hope this makes you feel feckin' proud!
Anyway, I shall be contacting those smarmy c*nts at the BC over the next few days and seeking their opinion on the above. I have also, by some sneaky means, managed to get hold of several important (and presumably confidential) BC documents regarding the accreditation process that they carry out, and will be sharing these with you over the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, if any of you downtrodded Teflers out there have any documents, stories, or compromising pictures to share about the BC and their accreditation at your school, please send the stuff my way: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'll be more than grateful to receive them!