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Surviving recession

October 10, 2008

Hello again,

English language teaching is unlikely to escape unscathed from global recession. Schools will be worrying...

... about their prospects in the tough times ahead and teachers will be concerned about job security. It seems already that major companies, who sponsor students on business English courses, are cutting down on their training budgets. Individual students will be looking carefully at their options, perhaps choosing cheaper courses than they had planned or postponing enrolling until the outlook is brighter.

Will schools suffer? Undoubtedly. In Japan ELT has already been badly dented by the Nova Group failure. Language Travel News reports that enrolments are down in France. The outlook for economic growth in Spain, Germany and the UK is said to be poor. Schools and teachers in Spain and Germany will certainly be under pressure. The picture in the UK is perhaps more complex. The favourable exchange rate for sterling means that students from other countries may feel they can get a good deal in Britain. The UK also has a large population of people hoping to live and work here whose first need is to be able to speak English.

Can anything be done? Well, we’ve been through rocky patches before yet ELT has continued to be a growth area. Schools need to look carefully at new, flexible courses they can mount. Blended learning is one area that might have possibilities for cutting costs but keeping students. New exam courses such as Cambridge University’s English for Work might attract a new clientele.

And what about teachers? Well they have skills that could easily be transferred to other forms of training and coaching. If schools are trying to lay off staff, teachers might think of how best to negotiate their situation with the employer. What about a short-term lay-off? Is there a way of keeping the job with fewer hours? And it seems that predictions for teachers are not all gloomy. See http://www.theapple.com/careers/3022-will-teachers-face-a-recession for an outlook that sees ESL as a growth area for teachers in the USA.

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  1. Eric Roth Says:

    Perhaps also consider across the board paycuts to avoid layoffs and protect institutional strength. Further, many people - especially if facing more demands at work - will want to dramatically improve their English skills. In this way, language skills catering to the real needs of students might be less vulnerable than other schools.
    Good post on a difficult, timely topic.

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