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Teach English Online Challenge

teach headset agent-18741 640If you've ever looked into teaching English as a second or foreign language (TESL or TEFL) then you know it is a pretty tightly controlled vocation and, in some respects, also has a bit of a dodgy reputation.

There are only two or three TEFL courses that are recognised by accrediting bodies and governments around the world. Therefore the biggest employers all adhere to that teaching philosophy, methodology and qualifications. The other 'non-accredited' TEFL course providers publish and teach programmes that are very similar to the accredited ones but most often they won't get you a job in the mainstream accredited sector of the industry.

The TEFL industry is still based upon printed course books and flying native English speaking teachers around the planet to teach in classrooms with 10, 15, 20 (often a lot more) students paying a premium for a native speaker teacher.

Most non-native speaker English teachers in the world are not fully fluent and they too are very welcome to join the challenge but they must disclose their teacher status on the application form.

Online English teaching hasn't really taken off or seriously challenged the offline model yet because most providers have simply taken the offline model and put it online. English learning websites and applications have promised a lot but delivered very little actual speaking improvement for learners. Yet everyone knows in an increasingly connected world the future of English teaching is online.

My name is Jason West and I started my first English school in London in 1992. That school became British Council accredited after just two years of operation and taught the same way that all of the others did. It almost certainly still does because it is still accredited and very little, if anything, has changed since 1992. Most learners and teachers think that an English course is just an English course and that the crucial thing is the experience and qualifications of the teacher. I completely disagree.

In 2001 I created English Out There (EOT) and have been developing it ever since. EOT started on the streets of London. It is probably the only English course that has improved a learner's speaking skills by three levels in just six lessons and has all of the recordings to prove it. What's even more remarkable is this learning outcome was achieved exclusively online using EOT PDF downloads, Facebook and Skype (without video).

When English learners listen to the before and after clips of my case studies with real learners (Jane, Waldemar, Lilliana etc.) they most probably think I am a great teacher. A lot have said that in online posts. But I'm not a great teacher, especially not in the way that they think I am. 

When most qualified English teachers listen to the evidence they often claim not to hear the improvement, claim it is not significant or claim it is normal. What is normal is their desire to protect the investment they have made in their careers. Their careers are, pretty much, only supported by the qualifications, experience and personal references they can put on their CVs. Have you ever heard of an English teacher with before and after audio files of some of their students attached to their emailed CV? I've been hiring English teachers in London since 1992. The MP3 was first used commercially in 1995. I've never received a CV with an MP3 attached. With nice photos yes...but no MP3s. Why do you think that is?

Maybe the reason for that has some connection with these statements lifted from huge and expensive research projects into the speaking efficacy of ESL methodology as it is taught in most countries of the world,

“In short, educational outcomes measured by way of dropout, failure, and low achievement on standardised tests all suggest that for some reason ESL learners do not benefit from ESL programming.” (Roessingh 2004)

and

"A more recent piece of research called Evaluation of the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Program, carried out by the Canadian government, clearly shows the improvement in speaking after 1000 hours in the ESL classroom is statistically the same against a control group that wasn't in school at all. So there was no improvement whatsoever." (West 2012)

Sign Up

Anyone can do what I do. If you are an English speaker with or without teaching experience you too can probably do what I do. What's more I think you can probably do it after just a single one hour online training session and on-going support via social media.

So, that's the Teach English Online Challenge I have set myself. If you are an English speaker I want to train you to do what I do and then prove it using audio before and after recordings with the real English learners you will work with.

The word 'teacher' is hugely emotive and talismanic but it is increasingly being used as a defensive buffer by those who fear change. I want to reclaim the word teacher for the 21st century to simply describe a person, anyone, who helps another human being to acquire new knowledge and skills.

If you want to be part of this experiment, help some frustrated English learners and are happy to have it all recorded and published online then do please click on the link below and complete the form. It is free to apply so you've got nothing to lose and everything to gain.

To apply for the Teach English Online Challenge please click HERE and complete the form.