Teachers in most countries of Eastern Central Europe earn a tiny fraction of the salaries of British teachers, yet the cost of living is not so different. Despite this, and the lower regard society has for its teachers, the great majority continue to show a professionalism which is to be admired.
The lack of professional support to enable them to take advantages of the new and effective ideas in teaching is very limited and whilst we may complain about the lack of finance in our schools in the UK, it bears no comparison to most schools in EC Europe.
Many teachers want to improve themselves professionally and to help their students more and one of SOL’s primary objectives is to give teachers of English there opportunities they have not been able to access.
We work closely with the associations of teachers of English in all those countries and have been running professional workshops in many local schools for teachers from that town or district. This way we can get to places where accessing the ‘real’ English language is almost impossible, at least on an interactive level.
Most teachers of English themselves lack the confidence to use English freely in conversations whether with their own students or other adults, but we know the way to break this barrier for sure is to offer them a chance to come to England!
As well as offering low cost training courses in Devon (and also on the River Danube), over the years SOL has given a chance to some 300 teachers of English to come to our centre in Devon for a free 12 day training course.
These are transforming experiences for them – especially if it their first visit to England. To be able to use the language in real situations, not just in their classroom is invaluable! It gives them a real confidence in using the language as well as making them feel more authentic – they then teach from their own experience of life in England instead of from what they have read about or seen pictures of. Their students gain greatly from this. Very many teachers have described this as a ‘life-changing’ experience for them.
We want to do so much more of this and so are appealing for support to do more than we have been able to manage so far on our own. The key principle is that if you improve a teacher then you are going to improve a lot of students too – and that benefit continues into the future.