Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Bismarck Sunk!

Well, the British government have been threatening to effectively torpedo the country's third largest industry (EFL) for a while now, and at last it seems they have summoned up the courage to scuttle this sizable part of the UK economy. Well done, lads - for now is certainly a good time to start sinking the fleet!

The BBC headline of several days back spelt it out in no uncertain terms - "Tougher rules have been brought in to stop people abusing the student visa system to remain illegally in the UK." And although the Home Office has denied that the changes will lead to tens of thousands of potential EFL students being refused visas, the truth is that many foreign students of English will find it very difficult come here for a dose of Tefl madness.

The plain truth is, of course, that our politicians have thrown the baby out with the bathwater, shot themselves in the foot, cut off their nose to ... etc., etc. - choose your very own suitable yawning cliche, if you please. If what I understand is correct, the Tefl trade in the UK will never be the same again - which could be no bad thing, for sure.

So let's have a butcher's at the facts, shall we? The following paragraphs in italics have been taken from the BBC website article in question, and I've added my comments underneath.

• Successful applicants from outside the EU will have to speak English to a level only just below GCSE standard, rather than beginner level as at present.

What a load of complete cock! If anything serves to prove that the government has not conferred with anybody involved in the nation's Tefl Trade over this move, then this is it, for they make the elementary mistake of confusing native-speaker exams with those designed exclusively for foreigners. I mean, have you ever heard of an EFL student with a GCSE in English? Clearly the UK government have never heard of the Cambridge KET or PET exams.

Even worse - just what do they mean by the phrase"speak English to GCSE standard"? Is there an oral exam in GCSE English? Where are the criteria for judging Sharon and Kevin's miserable attempts to speak standard English? I'd love to see them!

• Students taking courses below degree level will be allowed to work for only 10 hours a week, instead of 20 as at present.

Why? What fuggin' difference does it make how many hours they work? I thought the idea was to keep out potential terrorists and other 'undesirables' - not just keep them in poverty. And presumably those who are in the UK to follow a degree course are less likely to ... just what? I'm puzzled...

Additionally, visas for courses below degree level with a work placement will also be granted only if the institutions they attend are on a new register, the Highly Trusted Sponsors List.

Now that did make me laugh - the notion of a 'Highly Trusted' sponsor in EFL! I guess the Government has have finally realised that there are so many charlatans at work in Britain's tacky Tefl trade that they need to differentiate between them. So, presumably there will be Slightly Trusted Sponsors and Never-to-be Trusted ones too, like Paul Lowe and UKhelp4U!

The main threat to the industry seems to be the exclusion of all those foreigners who have a low level of spoken English. On the one hand, this could mean an end to those awful classes of non-speaking Chinkies and Japs; and what EFL teacher could possibly be sad to see the back of all that bollocks?

Yet on the other hand, who's going to fill their places? Will Britain's dynamic protectors of the domestic EFL industry (English UK, British Council) start making extra efforts to recruit students with better English - offering them hybrid courses of language and literature, cultural studies, sort of "English and golf/Premier League footy/24-hour drinking" stuff?

Even worse, what will these measures do to the ever-profitable summer school business, which typically recruits young kids from far and wide - Russia and the Middle East, to name but two. I would gladly stick my neck out here and say that NONE of the horrible well-heeled sprogs that I taught on summer schools ever had a high level of English. So will this side of the UK Tefl Trade just wither and die?

Well, I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I did e-mail English UK about their response to the government's magnificent proposals, but their silence has been, well, expected.

Of course, though, the biggest danger is this. If the UK Tefl industry does go under, what on Earth will I be able to take the piss out of in the years to come? Frankly, I'm terrified!



Anonymous said...

No more Tefl? Let it bleed!

andy nesbitt said...

hurray mass sackings and wages down to £5 an hour. So much for the "profession"
You never had it so good losers

Clarence Rhode, Corporate Strategy Director and Management Coordinator, UK Business, Windsor said...

Paul tried to find a job in Tesco.

But they want people who work with conviction.

Not convictions for fraud!!

Lovely, I never get tired of that one.

Never been happier.

Anonymous said...

Five quid an hour? Even Paul Lowe will be paying more than that!

The TEFL Tradesman said...

The smart money seems to be going on a transfer of the 'beginners-to-intermediate' business to Ireland. So if I were you, and looking for a job, I'd be heading there...

at the end of the day said...

recent entrants to the profession
age 21, degree cert tefl(now I am a professional), loads of applicants, yes I'll work for £7.50 an hour. Oh dear what will all the wonderful, valuable, experienced teachers do? Oh no have to enter the real world of work where you get paid for how hard you work - how will they cope? they won't so it's £7.50 an hour down at tlsi or the supermarket. But what about us being highly qualified professionals I hear, guess you'll have to set up a tefltrade website to massage your poor egos
ahhhh diddums

Leon C said...

So, at last an end to the scumbag schools that have beset our 'industry' with a poor reputation for too long. Yes, there are failings but let's stop whinging and get on with building.

Good schools will survive. The best always come through in any recession and now is no different.

My only concern is whether the abundance of teachers - soon to be available - will drive down salaries even lower.

Anonymous said...

I apologisen - the language benchmark has been raised from A2 to B2 (Common European Frame of Reference), whch is apparently somewhere near GCSE level. But it still leaves a lot of people stitched up - abroad and in the UK!

For the full 'ministerial statement', have a look here...

El Cabron que se rie... said...

Let's be frank here - if the language schools had got their act together a long time ago, via their employers' association called English UK, and actively worked to tightly control students who break their visa restrictions, disappear, fail to attend class, etc, then they would not have had to endure this drastic action.

Instead they've just been chasing the bucks over the years, and turning a blind eye to schools who bring the sector into disrepute by wilfully breaking the laws.

As a result, now they have nobody but themselves to blame for this. Well done English UK!

Stef, management Coordinator said...

And now the Lizard Men descend from their Zeppelins, all around me, yes, hundreds of them, I must put on my tin foil helmet to protect my brain, oh no they are waving copies of OUP books and chanting BC songs

'BC BC you the one for me e e e e'

Thankfully I am sane and I have my placebo syringe to protect my school.

I am transmitting.

Dot dot dot. Dash dash dot!

This is free Windsor calling!

Help us stop the lizard men!!

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Don't worry, Stef - Paul Lowe will protect you from those evil lizard-men! Look , he's doing all he can by standing right behind you and ... oh, I see - he's running away.

Free Windsor?! When has ANYTHING ever been free there?! Oh, yes - there was the unpaid overtime; I s'pose that counts as 'free' in some way...

BTW, what's become of Ashley Arnold, PL's right hand man and general lickspittle? Orn - don't even think it - is he leading the assault of the lizard men? From behind a desk, natcho - that prime lizard was always far too slippery to spend any time in real danger!

King John said...

All is not well in the world of little Ashley Arnold. His website has been hijacked by a Taiwanese outfit selling fake Rolex watches (seriously, type in

and see what you get)

No doubt he will overcome this minor obstacle with his usual commercial flair and boundless charm.

Anonymous said...

the address is an English outfit selling shite domain names- he probably forgot to pay his bill and lost the domain name.

King John said...

I would deduce from this that Ashley has closed his little agency down altogether. What a loss.

The Debt Collector said...

Such a shame - it's a great loss for the UK Tefl Trade!

Where are you now, Ashley - temping at that employment agency again?!

King John said...

Just seen Tony Millns of English Uk on 'Newsnight' BBC2 - what a fat fucking bastard, obviously deeply weird. Wouldn't trust him with a window cleaning round. Let's hope he goes bust soon, like all his dirty little fellow-travellers such as Ashley Arnold and Paul Lowe.

Queen Anne said...

Yes, there's a link here:

Clearly our Mr Millns spent too long a year at CAMRA - he looks like a well-soaked beer-towel!

The TEFL Tradesman said...

Yes, he is a bit of an ugly bastard, isn't he, KJ/QA. I think Tefl should have a condition stating that all teachers and anybody related to the EFL field should be at least a little bit shaggable, eh?