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Ijustwannateach

'corporate' Tefl

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A lot of teachers in almost every non-English-speaking country (including Thailand) do part-time work teaching company groups how to speak and write English, in theory for their use in the company. These are usually fairly cushy jobs, with good hourly rates and fairly friendly students. One might think they were THE choice of job for extra income for TEFLers. However, personally, I've found they almost always fail for the following reasons:

1. Unrealistic expectations: the company manager is putting up the money and he wants RESULTS!!! RESULTS!!! ECC down the street claims their students can speak English in 3 months, so he wants his students ready to do sales presentations in fluent English by the end of the year! They *never* want to hear the truth: that the beginner students that typically get thrown into classes like these will be lucky- if they try hard- to reach intermediate fluency within 3 *years*. And that's if they're smart enough to meet at least twice a week.

2. Lack of commitment/General business: you're given a mixed group of salesmen, office ladies, and managers. Guess who's going to be out of town on business most of the time? Guess who's got better things to do than sit for 90 minutes in your once-a-week English class? You'll wind up with office ladies, the in-house tech guy, and a rotating sample of the managers, salesmen and engineers who're never the same twice and never know anything you've already taught.

3. Fatigue: You're a 90-minute intellectual drain in a 12 hour working schedule for most of these folks, who are NOT voluntarily coming to your class. They're tired. They have no additional incentive to work hard or learn that much.

4. Mixed levels: Your class consists of beginners, false beginners, intermediates, the near-fluent gay guy who has a Dutch boyfriend, and the fluent manager who really just wanted somebody to proofread his business letters. Which level are you going to teach? How can you make them all happy? Feh.

5. Political Issues: The manager wants his employees to make good sales presentations. The over-manager wants their faxes to be in perfect English. The sales director wants good small talk and conversational skills. Who do you make happy, with 90 minutes a week?

The typical fate of the corporate class: After about 3-4 months, when the initial enthusiasm of the students has begun to vanish and the students with "more important things to do" start to disappear for their business trips and sales meetings, you get a core group (usually 30% of the beginning number of the class) who stick with you- usually the ones who were best at English to start with. Management notices that the class is not accomplishing its purpose - in other words, to do all things for all people- and cancel the class through one ruse or another (usually suggesting that things are "busy now" or that they will set up another class "later").

Attempts to sidestep this process through explaining "reality" to management ahead of time will be useless, as will any attempt to have multiple smaller classes according to level. They're willing to spend a bit of money, but not *enough* money.

"Steven"

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All so true. Most of the corporate business classes I taught that were mixed ability always ended this way; one or two highly motivated students at the end.

The only really successful classes were one on one or not more than three or four.

The biggest problem is that there is usually no planning between the agent/school and the company regarding the abilities and compatibility of the prospective students.

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What about the pissed high level managers who like to barge into the class late and then proceed to totally disrupt the lesson. All the underlings just stop speaking and let their boss take centre stage, laughing at the correct time of course.

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^Yup. Or the "know-it-all" boss who throws in abrasive nationalistic political opinions (in a business English class!) insisting he's right and that the teacher "debate" him or else accept his ridiculous ideas unchallenged, as his poor underling fellow-students must.

"Steven"

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then you add in

Unrealistic enrolements - I started with one class of 25. Never more than 10 turned up and by the end there were only 3.

Tired teachers - coming off a full day teaching in school

Poor pre testing

Job pressures - coming in late, not turning up, going early for extra work the boss gave them

Lack of enthusiam from the bosses - see above

The agency not paying the teachers

Lack of the correct books at the start

Lack of a correct schedule

No proper facilities, Teaching in a cupboard, no whiteboard or noticeboard to write on etc etc

A training manager who has some budget to get rid of and doesnt really know what he wants and the agency obliges by giving something nobody needs but costs money.

etc etc

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