I’ve been hearing conflicting reports about the effect of the current economic problems on the TEFL industry. Some people are telling us that wages are criminally low while others are saying that TEFL is your way out of money problems.
The crunch is good
Leading TEFL paper, EL Gazette, ran the story ‘Crunch is Good for UK TEFL’ on its front page this month (March, 2009). I strongly recommend you subscribe to this excellent paper as it delivers some well-written and insightful articles and news on the worldwide English teaching issues, including this article about the current economy in the UK.
Things are going well
To summarise what they are saying, the UK TEFL industry is incredibly upbeat about the current situation. 90% of employers believe that their business is going strong or even improving, while one employer, the Wimbledon School of English, said that they were finding it difficult to cope with the influx of student applications.
Why the increase?
Possible reasons for this include the weakness of the pound, which has a big effect when you are in the market for international students. The course fees are effectively lowered when the exchange rate is in your favour, and suddenly England’s high cost of living is not so high. Indeed, EL Gazette notes that “much of this surge is from customers in Europe or from Latin American countries linked to the US Dollar.” (EL Gazette, March 2009)
Where’s the money going?
At the same time, English is increasing in importance in international business and trade, which leads to an increase in student numbers. Whether the student numbers are connected to teacher’s wages is another matter.