I’ve been, and still am, disillusioned with the industrial side (as opposed to the professional side) of English Language Teaching. This includes lack of professional development, overbearing influence of coursebooks and the massive global ELT publishers, deskilling by publishers and large chain schools and precarious working conditions. I’ve always tried to avoid being a naysayer in that when I’ve said ‘nay’, I hope that there’s at least one alternative proposed. Being that I believe action is necessary, I am going to propose action that sympathetic parties may wish to follow up on.
Work in loose, broad-church, accessible Special Interest Groups (SIGs)
IATEFL and TESOL International do not have the monopoly on operating SIGs. There is TaWSIG but other than that there are others that are SIGs by nature if not by name. The Dogme in ELT forum was such a thing. TEFL Equity Advocates is another. There is also ELT Advocacy Ireland, the Women in ELT group on Facebook, The C Group, and I suppose what we at #TBLTChat have been trying to do and what TLEAP are doing.
Realise it’s a broad church and many people do a range of things with varied experiences and dialogue can help us grow through shared practices, ideas, stories and knowledge. This then creates a culture. What do you care about? What are the itches you’re not getting scratched? Are there people who’ll do this with you? You don’t have to have a lot of people to start with; summoning shared energy shouldn’t be a problem.
Don’t Like Something? Make Something Else!
Don’t like textbooks? Try materials light teaching or making your own materials. Tell others.
Are listening materials rubbish? Could you make your own website? Tell others.
Do you hate this blog or feel it neglects things things? Make your own. Tell others.
We can, and I am reluctant to dictate but we should try to make the world how we would like it to be rather than settling for how it is. This change will not come easily but nor will it fall in our laps automatically without any kind of effort being applied.
We are all polymaths. We all have other skills and interests that can be brought together to build a better environment.
Commit but See Other People
You have your ideas and interests and you are what you are because of them. With other people’s knowledge and skills you can build further and better than you might otherwise do alone. Your loose, broad-church SIG can only benefit from outside knowledge and expertise.
Some of this, at least initially, may involve working for free
However, the beneficiary of this free work is you and your community, so you aren’t slaving away for someone else. You may even be able to make money from it later because people don’t mind paying for things with value, they just mind being ripped off. You then have a model, with this work, of how things could be. This might take reiteration. Keep looking, even if there are faults. Someone, somewhere might benefit.
Hopefully this is good for thought for some of us about our place in the world and gives us a more positive idea of where we might go next.
I’d love comments here, especially if you use the comments to build your own SIGs.