It’s been 8 years since I came to Canada to pursue my dream: Ph.D. in TESL/Applied Linguistics/Curriculum Development. At all crossroads I’ve been in, I made choices. Looking back, it looks as if the choices were very relevant to employment situations.
I like working: teaching, contributing to a program development, creating and organizing teaching materials, developing new curricula, evaluating, etc. Perhaps, my decisions were made to find a workplace I could settle in with thinking I could do use all these skills for the school for a long time. Here I have one question: does a permanent position exist? Yes, it does in several organizations including school boards. Then, how do I evaluate the quality of the performance by those permanent employees (ESL teachers)? School boards: Not so great by the majority of them even though a small number of instructors do their best to offer beneficial lessons to their adult learners. How do I evaluate ESL program managers’ performance including myself? They do their best but they’re overwhelmed with more and more responsibilities adding onto their shoulders. Going back to the topic of my ‘choices’, how much am I using the skills I wanted to use and upgrade my skills by using them?
I am not teaching anymore. According to the collective agreement, I am not supposed to teach.
What does work mean to myself?
Employment situations in Toronto is not really favorable to all job seekers (ESL teachers) now. It’s been more competitive and many professionals work hard to impress employers on papers, online, and in person. These (especially young professionals between the age of 25 up to 40) ESL teachers look for a stable employment that may not exist, whatever it takes and whichever workplace who is baited by them. Is this desirable for the future of the industry?
What does ESL market do to the Canadian economy? How many ESL teachers are there and are they treated fairly? Are they hired equally and fairly according to the Labour Law?
Connect. I think about ‘Connect’ a lot these days. I wanted to connect with TESL professionals. That’s how I decided to take TESL Canada and Ontario courses basically to look into what differences there would be in Canadian TESL courses compared to American and Australian TESL courses and MA courses in TESL. CLB, LINC, and highly emphasized Task-based language teaching, Communicative Language Teaching (that was quite old-fashioned in the US) and Grammatical features in LINC curriculum were quite different. I taught in LINC centers, ESL centers, and taught an ELT (Enhanced Language Training) course for internationally trained English teachers. Because the employment market is tough, ‘connecting’ seems to be considered as ‘finding connections to gain employment’ in Canada. (My perspectives must be biased strictly within Toronto though since I have only been in Toronto working in organizations.)
My heart says it doesn’t feel right that ‘connecting’ is regarded as ‘finding a person who can hire me’. Volunteering is regarded as ‘finding a connection to a person who can be a good reference for my appeal to the employer’.
Should there be a systematic effort into improving the employment situations for new ESL instructors and old instructors in Toronto? Professional development and training programs need to be in line with the market situations. What would help ESL teachers and instructors grow and keep their jobs? What do employers need to consider and take actions into?
I would like to connect with TESL professionals to discuss questions like these. Can’t wait to meet and talk.