The Slavery of Teaching English (Telegraph)

“The job is tedious, the salary appalling and the prospects nil. Sebastian Cresswell-Turner laments that ‘no one with a scrap of ambition’ would choose to teach English as a foreign language.”

The Slavery of Teaching English

Slavery? You’re all ready a slave.

Choose life. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fu$ing big television. Choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers… Choose DIY and wondering who the f$$$ you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind numbing, spirit crushing game shows, stuffing junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pissing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fu$ed-up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose life… But why would I want to do a thing like that?

Great article. Sure to enrage many:


Been there done that.

Double ouch.

[quote]I can sniff out the “lifers” a mile off [on a CELTA course]. . . scruffy figures, utterly out of synch with the modern world, any style or sex-appeal they once possessed squeezed out of them by years of drudgery, exploitation and poverty.[/quote] Anyone YOU know?

Sounds like your average troll at Forumosa. Grain of truth though?

Good thing I’m a Taiwan ESL teacher, not a London TEFL teacher then. :smiley:

In contrast, I crawl out of bed at 8:00AM to have time for a leisurely breakfast before starting work 2 minutes down the road. After a not exactly gruelling 3 hours, I take my 2 and a half hour lunch break at home. The it’s a whopping 6 minute commute to my other job, where I put in another strenuos 3 hours, and then I’m home at 5:00PM. For this I get paid a mere 3 times what I could earn in New Zealand, and a lot more than I got in London. In the unlikely event that my boss asked me to do something I really didn’t want to do, I know that a new job is just a few phone calls away.

It’s hell on earth.


This guy likes to teach English much as Latin was taught 100 years ago. Even linguists 30 years ago were denouncing emphasizing grammar when teaching English.

So why does this guy dread drudging through teaching English anyway?

Here’s a link he didn’t go to:

I have to admit the article made feel me good about myself vis-a-vis “there but for the grace of…”. After six years of TEFL I was lucky enough to get out of the game in Taiwan at the age of 33 and into freelance translation, and haven’t looked back.

During my first three years it was an adventure, a chance to live abroad, travel, make money, and score chicks. I woke up everyday thrilled (tell me a better definition of “the good life,” eh?). Then I met my wife, turned 30, and realized that I didn’t have it in me to open up my own bushiban, which seemed the only way for lifers to get anything more out of the deal. I spent my last three years of TEFL going through the motions, switching schools each year, and brooding over my future. The 45 year-old losers who showed up at the expat pubs alone were an uncomfortable reminder of what might be in store for me if I didn’t get off my ass and do something different. The article is a cautionary tale, one every liberal arts grad in his/her mid-twenties would do well to take to heart.

The key to it all is that the TEFLers who fall into despair are the ones who never cared much for teaching in the first place–it was merely a pretext for living abroad and making some cash along the way. The ones who had a desire to teach right from the start are the ones who tend to be happier. They are also the ones who tend to head back home after a few years, do an education degree and get a “proper” job in the school system.

although many of the points in the article are all too familiar to me. i think that the writer is a fukin hypocrite. he or she spent 8 years doing something they despise and yet distances themself from all the other losers doing the same thing

Your grammar is interesting!


The article may have some good points. I can relate to none of them.

Well, being an English teacher in Italy sucks, apparently. Good thing I’m in Taiwan.

not drunk but hungover…yea, i can see the errors. would you like me to go back and edit them for you?

My last job in England paid

[quote=“hexuan”][quote=“Bu Lai En”]
My last job in England paid

Well I can see Hexuan taking a pay cut to come here…so did I. What’s the big deal? Contrary to the myth, money isn’t everything. I enjoy my life in Taiwan, I like living in a different country. It’s an adventure every day. And it’s worth more that I was making in the states. Sure someday I will have to worry about retirement and all the ‘old age’ stuff but not yet. Besides I don’t think 45 is too old to be enjoying my life here. :wink:

a good article. funny as hell. and scary too.

Funny as hell, oh yes indeedy doody!

I make a hell of a lot more here than in NZ. Why on earth would I complain? Hell, I do complain… what the #$#@ is wrong with me???

Oh yeah, money isn’t everything.

One important point the article makes is that once you’ve been in TEFL for a while there’s no going back. You’re virtually unemployable back home. You end up 40, 50 years old with no house, no pension, no hair, telling yourself it’ll all somehow work itself out when you hit 60 or 70 and want to retire, and maybe go back home.

Of course it’s not just about the money; it’s about having no future.

You can teach ESL and still have a house, pension, etc…one just has to be on the ball.

However, I do see a lot of teachers pissing their money away.

All this talk about not having a future once you’ve been in ESL a few years is complete rubbish. What you do has absolutely no bearing on who you are. You are the master of your destiny (Yeash, do I sound like Anthony Robbins here :blush: ).

It’s all about branding. You brand yourself as “just an Esl teacher” and that is exactly what you are and always will be. I have never branded myself and never will, I have led a diverse career path, each jump leading to something better and perhaps different.

Branding, branding, branding. All the big companies do it, so why don’t we. Market yourself for success and you will succeed. Don’t let what you are doing now be an excuse for not having the future that you want, that my friends is just plain nuts.

Here! Take a look at the link and see what you learn.

I’m not impressed by the article.

Either the author was simply looking for an angle – that being a TEFL teacher in Italy sucks – in which case, as someone pointed out, good thing I’m in Taipei. I no longer teach English in Taipei, but I did and I liked it: good pay, pleasant sociable work, flexible hours, no heavy deadlines and extreme pressure as in corporate jobs, etc. What’s so bad about that?

Or, if the author was sincere he’s a loser (looser). As someone else pointed out, why has he done it for the past 8 years if he thinks it sucks? Hell, I sold my house, closed down my law practice and moved to Asia because I thought that work sucked. I sure as hell wouldn’t teach TEFL for 8 years if I hated it. But some people like to complain and lack the cajones to change their wretched lives.

Nor do I buy that gloom and doom scenario spread by complainers such as the article’s author, that TEFL work will ruin your career and you’ll never find work in civilized countries in the future. That’s nonsense. If one does nothing but worry and complain maybe one will have trouble finding happiness. . . and a job. If one is confident and content one will always find good opportunities.

I take your point Bassman. But it just shows that if you have “TEFL for ten years” on your resume you’d have to work hard to make yourself look employable in the eyes of future employers. You mentioned marketing yourself as a brand - what exactly are you going to market yourself as if all you’ve ever done is teach TEFL?

I suppose this is where creative resume skills come in. You’d need to be pretty creative if you hadn’t developed any other skills while you were teaching, such as IT skills, language skills etc.