The New Trends in the ELT Market

Our Lead Trainer Christine Thompson speaks about how English teaching has changed within the last 10 years. Christine has personal experience with teaching and teacher training in Japan and Europe. She is the Career Placement Specialist on our TEFL programme and helps our trainees to get ready for job interviews.

1. How has the TEFL/ESL industry changed over the past decade?

The specific changes really depend upon which region and market you are talking about and whether you are talking about public, private or in-company tuition.
The increased presence of technology in the EFL classroom e.g. the availability of interactive whiteboards, multi-media language text books, the availability of language learning apps, more frequent use of e-learning platforms, and Skype language courses has had a profound effect on how English is being taught in the 21st century.

Some other significant trends are that English language training is starting earlier e.g. in the primary classroom instead of the secondary classroom. There is an increase in professional and economic as well as educational migration. Business people increasingly see English knowledge as a necessity either because it is the lingua franca of their company or industry, or as a general professional means to an end. Studying English is much less the interesting hobby or professional perk that it was in the past.

Additionally, in the workplace there is more focus on practical rather than theoretical applications of English, and competitive job candidates are often expected to demonstrate a working proficiency in the language in order to be eligible for consideration.

All the above means that in spite of increased demand, the overall professional expectations and desired qualifications for teachers have increased as well. It is often not enough just to be a native speaker of the language.

2. Is it harder/easier to get a job?
As a result of the realization that English knowledge has developed into more of a necessity than a luxury, and phenomenon such as increased economic migration and immigration, there are increasing opportunities for qualified TEFL teachers. Having said this, teachers are now often required to do more admin than in the past and may need to continuously work on their teaching portfolio in order to become more competitive.

3. Are teachers’ credentials scrutinized more?
Again it depends on demand. Some schools will only hire teachers with well-known externally moderated TEFL certificates. Others will accept any 120 hour TEFL certification. Alternatively, for some schools (mainly outside Europe) an on-line certification is acceptable but not for others. Most schools prefer teachers with some teaching experience.

4. How have technology/apps changed the industry?
As previously mentioned, examples of less traditional teacher/student paradigms where the two may not be studying in the classroom together but instead conducting lessons and communicating via Skype, e-learning platforms or interactive textbooks are on the increase. Motivated students have more autonomy and can study with increasing ease, convenience and independence and as a result, teachers are expected to be more technologically savvy than in the past. Teachers are expected to incorporate more technology into their lesson planning as well as their communication with students and schools which can sometimes be a challenge for older teachers. However, for most learners nothing can replace the opportunity to speak face-to-face with a teacher and have immediate feedback on your learning and the quality of your communication. It is a social discipline, after all.