What makes a good language school?

I have admittedly not been in this ELT game for very long, but since I passed my CELTA, I have now taught in two very different private language schools here in Berlin, as well as having attended a few in the past as a student myself. Without naming any names or specifics, I therefore would like to share my thoughts on what I believe makes a good language school, based on this experience and my reflections on being a teacher or student within these establishments:

A good language school…

…gives its staff a good induction; showing them where the books are, where the class files are kept and even how the coffee is made!

…gives its staff appropriate notice of their teaching hours for the coming weeks/months, and makes sure that the staff are happy to teach each class.

…has adequate stationery and photocopying facilities.

….invests in resources such as new textbooks, as well as teacher’s books, and makes an effort to order and preserve them.

…provides extra facilities, such a televisions, projectors and laptops, to allow staff to keep their lessons interesting.

…shows an interest in the personal development of its staff, offering workshops, observations and an open-door policy with the Director of Studies.

…offers free tea, coffee and other caffeine-containing products for its staff who have likely never slept enough!

…keeps its staff up-to-date with any changes, relevant notices and new arrivals of materials and resources.

And, most importantly, I think, a good language school employs people who enjoy teaching English – whether they are British or American, native or non-native and new teachers or experienced teachers. There should be a place for everyone and, something which our Cambridge Assessor remarked when he spoke to my whole class on the CELTA, there should be some sort of sense of community – a place where people actually want to come to work! I’m really enjoying the wonderful world of ELT, and I look forward to settling into my current place of work more over the  next few weeks 🙂

About BerLingo

My name is Rachel, I am 25 and I love Germany. I studied German, Spanish and Italian at Durham University for four years, one of which I spent living in Europe, and then worked at Routledge academic publishing house for almost 3 years. Towards the end of 2014, I decided it was time to finally fulfil a long-held ambition to live in Berlin, and so in April 2015 I completed the CELTA qualification (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults, adminstered by Cambridge University) here in the German capital. Now qualified, my blog berlingo18.wordpress.com charts my experiences as a new English teacher in my favourite city... (More information about my plans can be found in my first ever blog post.)
This entry was posted in Berlin, NQT, reflection, teaching and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to What makes a good language school?

  1. paulwalsh says:

    Hi Rachel,

    Great post Rachel. In my experience, a sense of community is something you will rarely find in a Berlin language school (though I can think of one exception to this rule).

    This is primarily because schools, in my experience, schools simply don’t want teachers to talk about how much they are being paid. I’ve actually had the experience where one school will pay teachers according to how many hours they take – the more hours you take, the more you get paid – regardless of experience or skill (and contradicting official written policy on pay). So different teachers get different rates of pay.

    It would also be nice if language schools in Berlin remunerated teachers on the basis of their experience and qualifications, as in other industries. If you have a Diploma or Masters you will earn perhaps another euro or two per hour at private language schools – if you’re lucky. This is my experience.

    A missing sense of community is also one of the reasons why I started the GAS project. We put on social events for teachers and act as a hub for sharing information and providing support.

    If anyone is interested – hope it’s ok to share here Rachel – here is our site: http://languageworkergas.com/


    Liked by 1 person

    • BerLingo says:

      Hi Paul,
      It is of course absolutely fine to have written this here, and thank you for doing so!
      I might have got lucky with the sense of community here at the BSE then – there are often teachers hanging out in the staff room, and everyone has been insanely helpful considering I’m so new!
      We are, however, all paid the same I believe – with our fees stuck up very prominently in the staff room for all to see! But I do agree with you that those far more experienced teachers do deserve a few euros extra, for sure.
      Thanks for the food for thought!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s