Working in a language academy


It all boils down to the size of the academy. There are huge and often quite prestigious academies and there are small local academies you probably pass by on your way to the supermarket.


A small academy usually employs just a handful of people. It is very often a family-run business. So there is a school manager who is responsible for managing the school on many levels. This person usually makes crucial decisions and is a jack-of-all-trades type. He is responsible for promoting the school, getting new clients, employing new teachers, buying new resources (course books, access to some paid websites, etc.) helping teachers if they have a problem. There is also an accountant, a receptionist, and a cleaner. There are obviously language teachers as well. If it weren’t for them, language academies would be empty!


A bigger, or sometimes huge, language academy functions exactly the same way as a small one. It is only a matter of scale. A big academy has many more students. Companies prefer this type of academy to employ. You are very likely to be or feel anonymous working for a big academy because it employs an army of people. So you have different departments in which you have dozens of people. They communicate with other employees by email or, rarely, phone. If you are a language teacher you should be mindful that if you want to keep getting new students you should guard against being anonymous/just a name in the system! As soon as you get employed at the academy like that, you should always find out who is who at the company. Who manages classes? What is the process of selecting the right teacher? Who is there to help you with the book/resources/meeting your objectives etc. They should know who you are and they should think that you are the best teacher in the academy. As always the proof of the pudding is in the eating so do your best every single time you have a class. It will be reflected in the evaluation sheets! You’ve guessed it! They read these sheets and they call students to ask if they are happy with the way you teach! If the students are happy, the school is happy and you should be considered an asset to the school. It means that you might be one of those lucky teachers who constantly get new classes, and might earn a bit more per hour. It is a rare case though! On the other hand, if you are not passionate about teaching and you just do it for the money working for a big academy is a perfect environment to simply blend in. Clock in and clock out! Big pain in the butt is the bureaucratic aspect of this type of job. There are a million and one different procedures and you have to frequently fill out a lot of papers. You basically repeat yourself 20 times. All those evaluation/progress sheets that no one reads! No one! I am of the view that I can communicate better, quicker, and more effectively with my students when we have a class and we can discuss their progress. No need to spend a few hours of your life writing something you can say in 3 minutes! I also think we as teachers should simply record a short video for each student in which we evaluate his/her progress and give a few pieces of advice! It would be so much more useful for everybody!


In my career as a language teacher, I have worked for two huge academies. When the pandemic started in March 2020, I lost three out of four jobs. The one left was with a huge academy. We swiftly changed to teaching online and all the employees pulled out all the stops to make it work! The only bad thing that happened was the lowering of the wage. My wage dropped from 14,5 Euro net per hour to 11,5 Euro net per hour. I don’t want to disrespect anyone but a cleaner at the company I was teaching at earned around 9 Euro net per hour and her schedule was pretty full while mine got reduced significantly.


As far as the second huge academy I have worked for goes it was a bit bumpier ride. It was simply a mess on many, many levels. The first 6 months there were very problematic. A lot of unanswered emails on the part of the school and on my part the lack of knowledge of whom to turn to for help/information/clarification etc.


Conclusion: in a time of crisis big academies keep getting new students, they usually pay on time, and have better resources...the pay could and should be higher because, after all, they rake in a lot of money! At the end of the day, teaching is nothing else but business!

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