ESL Teaching Guide - United Kingdom

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Jean Marson-Bayat - May 2004

Currently teaching in Newcastle (employed by Adult Ed, teaching adults in various venues throughout the city)

Positive aspects: We're a team, led by an ESOL specialist, working to supply the needs of the various students who want to learn ESOL. Many of our students are Asylum Seekers, although we also get people from the local ethnic communities, and now occasionally some older people, who have retired and finally find they have time to really learn English, as opposed to just "picking it up as they go along" as they had done previously at work.

Negative aspects: some of the venues available to us (and as with most Adult Education provision we constantly feel under funded!) are not ideal - for example, community centres where there is no space for storage of materials, so necessitating much carrying around of materials and paperwork, and old school buildings with many stairs.

Wages: according to the national rate

Staff support: there is an excellent support team of office staff, who help greatly with the admin. tasks, and volunteers, who support individual students with particular needs. As ever, with more money it would be wonderful to be able to employ more support workers, but in UK education finding the money is always a major problem!

Curriculum: we follow the national ESOL scheme, although many of our students are at Pre-Entry level and materials tend to be for the levels Entry 1 to Entry 3, so leaving us with plenty of writing and preparation of our own to do.

Accommodation and cost of living: according to a recent teaching agency's investigation, the North East has the lowest cost of living in the country, so perhaps we should encourage more ESOL teachers to come here, rather than gravitating to the South East and London!

Suggested Reading

Working in London & the UK
Living & Working in Britain: How to Study, Work and Settle in the Uk
All You Wanted to Know About the UK
Long Stays in the U.K.: A Complete, Practical Guide to Living and Working in the Uk (Long Stays Series)
Live Work and Play in London & UK

Great Britain (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
Fodor's London 2004
Rick Steves' Great Britain 2004
Lonely Planet Britain

Penelope Skinner - April 2002

The difference in pay between private schools and Further Education (FE) colleges is enormous: the schools pay about 1/2 but are more likely to provide more hours per week. The FE work is course(s) which last up to 32 weeks a year, twice a week. Neither seem to provide enough money to live on as a freestanding, permanent job.

Andy Mallory - December 2001

Pay will be low by UK standards. In London £17-19 thousand a year with a Diploma. About £15000 with a Certificate. Outside London the figures are about £14-15000 with Diploma, £12000 with Certificate. Hard to work unqualified. A lot of schools will try to get teachers for short periods or for only a few hours a week. This may be a viable way in to a school, giving you an edge when a full-time vacancy turns up.

The UK could well be the best place to work as an EFL teacher. It is also probably one of the most difficult. Most schools are strictly surveyed by the British Council which means resources are good and teachers should all be qualified, which means Diploma preferred, or Certificate at the very least.

You need to be well qualified for British Council recognised schools. Many state run colleges of FE/HE are building up their EFL provision as are Universities. If you have good academic qualifications then this is an option and a way that EFL may move in the future. For some reason, FE/HE colleges are able to charge lower fees to students, yet pay teachers substantially more. - First Stop for Your Second Language Needs
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