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Them and Us

July 10, 2007

Hello again,

I have been wondering how to make high-quality English language teaching available to more...

...people. Now I am back in the UK I have the good luck to teach foreign executives whose companies pay enormous fees for their employees to enjoy English language training in exceptionally comfortable and attractive surroundings. This is a rewarding experience for the trainers as well as for the clients, as we meet successful, interesting, intelligent, highly-motivated individuals.

But I sometimes feel a bit guilty. We are living in a bubble of indulgence surely. Not many of those who would benefit from English language teaching can afford this experience. In one respect the Internet with its virtual classrooms opens up new opportunities for people who can't afford to come to an Engish-speaking country. Yet, for all this wonderful technology, a virtual classroom does not offer the same experience.

I remember a quotation from my favourite author, Geoffrey Chaucer, who described his Clerk of Oxenforde: "gladly would he learn and gladly teach." I feel like that. I would like to make lessons available to those who would benefit but can't afford to come to the UK or the USA or Australia, for example.

Of course, teachers can do voluntary work but that is not posible for those of us with family responsibilities. Could schools be persuaded to offer a scholarship to one student who can't pay for every ten who pay fat fees? Is this an insoluble problem? Let me know your opinions.

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Comments

  1. Carlyn Says:

    I recently returned from a 4 week trip visiting schools in Zambia. I don't think that expecting schools to give scholarships will be the solution. The schools have very limited resources for classroom supplies and teachers let alone scholarships. The only solution I can see would be if people in the already developed world sponsor students and give them scholarships, maybe this would include service organizations, neighborhoods, churchs and schools. The students in Africa desperately want to attend high school. What do other people think??

  1. Lesley Says:

    I agree, and thus set you to create a high-quality video-streamed online ESL school anyone with broadband can access. While our price is low by western standards, cost is still an issue for many - Vietnem comes to mind. And a lack of credit cards of course. However, we hope we are taking a step in the right direction ;)

  1. Robert Says:

    I don't believe any problem is insoluble, they just range in the difficulty and energy required to solve them.

    I agree with Carlyn on her suggested solution. I think maybe the English speaking developed countries should create more of an initiative. Educational Institutes could create programs such as taking some of their best English students and having them teach in another country as part of the program.

    More organizations to help do exchanges, we are helping them learn our language. We should make sure we do it right, and keep it interesting for not only the rich and wealthy.

    Multimedia is always a good option, many parents want the best for their children but can't afford to send them overseas. High quality DVDs, CD-roms, Internet (although limited in some countries) are the modern, practical and reasonable options.

  1. Milan Says:

    Dear Brenda,

    It is excellent and admired, your shared attitude of Chaucer's clerk: "gladly would he learn and gladly teach".

    Isn't it true that much of what can be bought of high quality - food, housing, clothing - is bought by less than 10% of today's population? High quality English instruction in comfortable or luxurious environs may be available to an even smaller audience.

    When one looks at base issues omnisciently, one sees a stark hunger for the satisfying of human needs.

    What can we do? We focus on the positive and do our best. If we are able to add a drop in the bucket by our sterling, generous example, or by organizing programs of aid to those who need it, we are blessed. At the same time, the above fundamental issue will never fade by our endeavours. As long as we this remember principle, we won't end up frustrated after our sincere and earnest efforts.

  1. Mark Says:

    I teach English in Brazil, where I also enjoy working with a privileged class of highly motivated, intelligent and successful clients. Quality teaching everywhere has it’s price and here is no exception. However, despite family obligations, continuing academic pursuits and the challenge(s) incumbent upon one living in the developing world, I manage to teach English, free of charge, on an on-going basis to underprivileged students who would otherwise, not have the opportunity. I work with a local NGO, which provides both the classroom and students.


    It’s a matter of priorities…you do what you want! My opinion is that we gain far more than we sacrifice by giving up something or rearranging our priorities to do some good for others. I’m reminded of what Krishna told his disciple Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita: “…one who does good, My friend, is never overcome by evil.” Upon further reflection, most teachers of English in the developing world are doing just as you’d like to by making lessons available to those who would benefit but can't afford to go to the UK or the USA or Australia, for whatever reason.

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