- mainly short term contracts
- itinerant / migrant worker status especially at the outset of your career
- poor rates of pay, especially when starting out as a newly trained teacher and most especially in the UK (when compared to other professions)
- little chance of stable career paths
- few opportunities of working long term in your country of origin
For most of my 20+ years in UK HE I have witnessed attitudes that have ranged from amusement and puzzlement to suspicion from my colleagues in Academia and I can not say I blame them when I think about how we end up in this profession. I was working on a building site when I decided to train, and my motive was to travel the world with a transferable skill not to enter a profession!
In my experience it is a reasonably rare thing to be recognised by academia for our expertise, our dedication to the quality of provision for our students and for being the highly (multi) skilled professionals we are. However, with the recent focus of higher educational institutions on the 'Internationalisation Agenda', English language professionals in the sector are increasingly being approached to engage with the academic community and administrative departments to provide input across a range of institutional developments and strategic agendas, which go far beyond the delivery of English language teaching to class groups of overseas students.
This increased, invited, engagement in the wider context inevitably leads to us (the ELT professionals) being able to showcase just how multi skilled we are and to offer to further share our expertise in an even wider context. We are after all, even without the academic background, pretty knowledgeable in cross cultural communication, (usually) very able trainers for other skills other than teaching language and have a wide range of intercultural competencies that we are able to share with others.
Today has proven to be quite a momentous one for my department as two proposals put forward by ELTS' staff members for papers to be delivered at the Swansea Academy of Learning and Teaching's Excellence in Learning and Teaching Conference have been accepted by the selection panel. One paper describes the highly successful Professional Development and Support Programme for International Staff, the other is on ELTS' work on the development and delivery of our Portfolio Based Assessment Methodology.
You'll have to come to the conference for more information!
The success of getting these papers approved for the conference highlights just how far the reputation of the English language profession at Swansea University has risen over recent years, and this acknowledgement of our ambition for excellence in everything we strive to accomplish is hugely motivating for my team and should offer added confidence in us for our exceptional student body.