Is teaching English a waste of time? Is teaching ESL a low status, downwardly mobile job with a rubbish salary?
Before we start you’re going to have to ask yourself the above questions, because many teacher’s bad position and bad salary in the world of ESL are the result of a negative attitude. The problem is that only a fraction of ESL teachers want the job, while the majority are either looking on it as a ticket to travel, or find themselves abroad and it’s the only job they can get.
Because of this, they never commit themselves fully and are always thinking about the great project or job they’d rather be doing. This means the job is a question of getting by… and their work reflects that. This is a critical error, and as we shall see, the first stage in becoming a TEFL chimp.
I know many of you never wanted to be an English teacher and that really, if just a few things had been different, you would have been the Secretary general of the UN… but you’re not the secretary general of the UN. You’re an English teacher. You now have to make the choice of whether you become brilliant at it… or an ESL gimp. A TEFL chimp… or a TEFL gorilla. Decide now, because the irony is that if you want to improve your salary or even get out of teaching, then you better start becoming bloody good at it. (Impress your pupils, freinds and bosses and then all sorts of opportunities will open up. But we will explore this soon.)
So that’s my first tip: If you want more money – then be good at what you do. Teaching english is not rocket science; simply by hanging out on these pages or reading a book on language teaching (obviously, I’d recommend our forthcoming TEFL Insurgent) you can position yourself far ahead of the game. Once you become a fantastic teacher and people buzz about your classes you can approach your school and say that you’re considering leaving for a better paid job. Unless they’re bloody stupid (a possibility in the world of language schools) they’ll offer you more money. (see my future post on becoming a brilliant teacher From ESL gimp to ESL Tiger in three months. Also, more students and companies will start offering you private classes.
What distinguishes brilliant people is that whatever they do – wether it’s serving burgers or solving international conflicts – they do it to to the best of their ability. I suggest you do the same with teaching… your salry, oportunities and options will increase. I promise you.