Friday, April 20, 2007

Alternatives to teaching English

I've just had to give a lecturette on this topic, and last night I found this all-too-appropriate picture on the Internet to kick off my slideshow.

One day I shall probably write at more length on the subject of teaching and teachers. There's a lot to say, but I'm too exhausted now. And my feelings about it are too conflicted to admit of easy discussion. Many of my best friends are teachers, yet in general I am rather contemptuous of the profession. I love teaching, yet I hate having to do it for a living. (Actually, the same would probably be true of any profession that I found myself in. I think being a journalist would be torture for me.)

The friend who arranged this afternoon's seminar facetiously introduced me as "the richest teacher in Beijing". Ah, if only........

Perhaps the most time-efficient teacher? At least as far as my own benefit is concerned. I'd like to think that I deliver plenty of valuable content to my students too, but my main concern is to secure a decent hourly rate for myself. A couple of times since I've been here I've taken tough decisions to refuse to work for less than x per hour, and have suffered weeks or months of rising panic as I appear to have priced myself out of the market.... but then, but then, slowly, new offers of work at higher rates start coming in. So, I earn much the same as my other teacher friends, but I probably have to put in rather fewer hours to achieve it. As Liz Phair once put it in a song, "It's nice to be liked, but it's better by far to get paid."

And I am making progress in my mission to escape from English teaching altogether. In fact, I've never really had to teach much 'nuts & bolts' English (thank heavens); almost all the teaching I've done out here has been focused on exam preparation, study skills, academic writing - quite high-level stuff. And these days I try to restrict myself to business 'soft skills' training and MBA primer courses. And editing, voice work, etc.

Anything but bloody EFL teaching!!

1 comment:


Good for you!! One should earn what one deserves!! Or go hungry in pride!!