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Tutoring – life after Tefl

Phil Doyle-Wells explains why he has absolutely no regrets after moving on from ELT to private tutoring

Many UK-based individuals in the ELT world are making career moves not so much up the ladder as off it – into tutoring. The traditional entry route into ELT – a bachelor’s degree followed by a £1,000+ Tefl course, then a spell teaching abroad possibly followed by teaching in a UK language school – is less lucrative than it once was.

And in the high streets of London’s less affluent suburbs you are likely to see tutoring services providers where private higher education colleges used to stand. Recent graduates and even school leavers with good A levels are eschewing entrylevel Tefl and going into tutoring instead, many commanding rates of £15 an hour and up, without doing an expensive postgrad course. The exodus has been joined by older Tefl hands, including me.

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Teaching in post-revolution Libya

Jill Turner asks British Council teacher Damian Cosgrove about working after a war

How long have you been in Libya and what exactly do you do?

I arrived in September 2012. My role is senior teacher corporate, which means I’m responsible for the development of off-site business.

Why did you choose to go to this part of the world, when people may see it as challenging, and what is it like living and working there?

I came here with nearly ten years’ experience of working for the British Council in the region, in Lebanon and Egypt, and so choosing to come here didn’t seem at the time like an issue. I was familiar with broad aspects of the culture and have some basic Arabic. I was excited by what seemed like a new dawn around the region, where there seemed like a possibility of real change. I also had a number of expectations and was looking forward to buying a car and driving to beaches, mountains, historical sites and neighbouring countries. However the stark reality of post-revolution volatility has meant that these expectations are largely unmet. Restrictions on movement and travel,

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British Council and UN cooperate in Gaza

Melanie Butler asks Andrew Foster, English projects manager at BC in Occupied Palestinian Territories, and BC trainer Julietta Schoenmann about a course run for local teachers in Gaza

Traditionally Palestinians have been among the best English speakers in the region. So why opt for a training programme like English for Teaching, with its mixed focus of language and methodology?

AF: As you say, the level of English among Palestinian teachers is better than that in numerous other countries. Most teachers of English are graduates of English language and literature courses from the Gaza Strip’s four university English departments, where they also receive some lectures on methodology.

As for choosing the course, the partnership is with the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), a major education provider in Gaza. I discussed the teachers’ needs with their English specialists, and suggested English for Teachers, which focuses on methodology and language use and analysis, and they thought it would be useful.

Then I asked UNRWA to send a random sample of thirty teachers from across the Gaza Strip for testing, using Aptis online, and the results were predominantly around B1 on the CEFR, so we based our course for UNRWA trainers on initial modules of English for Teachers 2, which aims to help raise teachers from B1 to B2.

In Gaza English is taught through

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Celebrating the culture of success

Melanie Butler hears from Garnet Publishing managing director Nadia Khayat about how a family firm from the Middle East grew into a major international player in the ELT market

Most Westerners presume it must be difficult to be a Middle Eastern woman in business. But what are the business advantages of being a woman?

The first might seem superficial: there isn’t a cliched way that women in business are supposed to look or act. That is an advantage because it means people can’t judge you on first impressions, as they don’t know what to expect.

Also, in a culture like mine, men are expected to be hard and tough. A woman can use her softer side, her intuition, to help to create a more positive work environment, to promote collaboration rather than friction. Of course men can be soft and intuitive too, but it is harder for them to show it.

I grew up in the Middle East watching my mother, my aunts, my friends’ mothers using tact and diplomacy to achieve

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A long way from Tipperary ...

Melanie Butler talks to Irish testing guru Barry O'Sullivan about the phenomenal popularity of his brainchild Aptis, the new British Council business-to-business exam

Unusually for the world of EFL, Barry O’Sullivan’s career as a tester predates his time as a teacher.

‘I was teaching solid state geometry,’ the Irishman tells me over lunch, ‘when the government announced they were going to move the exam up to an honours level. I spent all summer figuring out what to do.’ By September Barry, who had started out as an apprentice fitter before retraining to teach engineering, had worked out the answer. That year all his students at this college in the Irish town of Tipperary got A grades in the new exam.

‘They all got As the next year too, so the chief inspector turned up and said to me, “I’m either going to have to fire you or hire you.” So he hired me.’

Now senior adviser on English language assessment to the British Council, Professor O’Sullivan is the mastermind behind Aptis, the new British Council exam. Designed for organisations and institutions wanting to benchmark the language levels of their staff or students, the test is sold ‘business to business’ and can be adapted for specific professional fields; Aptis for teachers, for example, is already available. In China, Barry tells me delightedly, it already has its own Chinese name, which roughly translates as the broad exam.

The idea for Aptis grew out of

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