Had a great meeting the other day with about 15 other language school owners/directors. This was the third time we’ve met, originally called a “networking” event so as not to scare anyone off but now definately converted into “meeting” We were talking about the issues that concern us and it was great to see respresentation from some of the “big boys” like International House and Astex as well as small agencies who work with just a handful of teachers.
Two issues received the most attention – American teachers without papers and the inflexibiity and ignorance of many clients re. achieving language learning objectives (does this sound familiar?)
I won’t go into the all the details of the discussion on these topics as basically the points are covered in other posts in my blog. An interesting point was raised however regarding the Americans – how is it that certain schools do get Americans their papers when we’re all being told that there is no quota for American teachers? Before you all cry out “don’t be naive Janice, we’re in Spain after all, the “enchufe” culture is still rife”, yes I know this is bound to a factor in there somewhere but even so….
I don’t have the data but it seems that there’s been no quota for Amercian teachers for years. Of course the Administration always contend that there are enough Spanish English teachers to meet demand. But what demand? The demand for Spanish teachers of English is virtually non existent. We reckon the Spanish Government DOES NOT UNDERSTAND OUR MARKET. Spanish companies DO NOT want to be taught by Spanish nationals with an intermediate level of English at best. If our group grows, and indeed nearly everyone present is keen to move forward on the forming of an association to promote quality, best practices and to resolve key issues, it was thought that we could easily get support from our top clients eg. Telefonica, Repsol, Ibedrola etc to prove that Spanish teachers are NOT the teachers who are equipping their top directors with the language skills they need to perform in the global market.
Another thing which I’m reflecting on since our meeting is that there IS energy here in Madrid, there IS a desire to try to improve things in the sector. What everyone wants is to be able to find well qualified, conscientious teachers to provide an excellent service to clients who take language learning seriously. (And it was agreed that the majority of American teachers are the conscientious and reliable ones). I’m surprised that this interest and energy hasn’t been sought out and channelled before. There IS an association here in Madrid called ACEDIM yet hardly anyone at our meeting had heard of it. If there’s anyone from ACEDIM reading this blog it’d be great to hear from you.
So, I think the word is spreading. Making a difference takes a lot of time and energy, but in the meantime if we can at least come together, take steps in the right direction and have fun doing it (VERY important), well that’s fine by me. And who knows….