Students offered free TEFL lessons, as ESL schools struggle to find tutors

Students who have achieved high marks in A-level English are offered free English language teaching classes to help fill the shortage of tutors.

A text message was sent to students on a Matsec mailing list inviting them to contact the English Teaching Council for more information if they achieved an A, B or C grade in their English level HAS.

Sue Falzon, head of the ELT council, said the free Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) course was part of its efforts “to address teacher shortages following the disastrous effects of the pandemic”. The course usually costs around €250.

The sector brings in millions of euros every year, with English language students spending 146 million euros in 2019, according to a Deloitte report.

Some 1,030 teachers and academic staff worked in the industry in 2019, but the figure dropped to 584 after COVID-19 hit the following year and fell further to 475 in 2021, according to the National Office. statistics.

The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has led teachers to move away from the profession and seek stability in other sectors, said Jean Bonnici, director of studies at the University of Malta’s language school.

Some moved into mainstream schools or office jobs, where they were guaranteed regular hours, while others sought higher-paying roles in the gaming industry, she said.

Hang their markers

Another reason for the teacher shortage is that the industry has long depended on people of retirement age.

Keith Borg, director of studies at EC Language School, said many of those teachers eventually chose to retire.

Meanwhile, after the industry has been hit hard by COVID restrictions, student numbers are starting to rise.

Strong recovery of the sector

Caroline Tissot, from the Federation of English Language Teaching Organizations in Malta (FELTOM), said: “It has been a positive summer compared to the past two years.”

The number of international students attending English language schools in Malta in 2019 stood at 83,610, falling to 16,491 in 2020 and rising to 27,853 in 2021.

It is still too early to determine the extent of the recovery this year.

A surge in student numbers and a shortage of teachers meant schools competed this summer for fewer educators, Bonnici said.

School principals said Malta weather that salary packages increased, with one complaining that larger schools were able to offer more competitive rates and more hours, particularly in the summer, putting smaller or family-run schools at a disadvantage.

Teachers can expect to earn around €12-17 per hour, depending on their experience, level of qualification and experience.

Carol Lashmar Spiteri is one of those who have decided to leave the profession.

“My age, 73, was a factor,” she said.

Pandemic restrictions have meant many schools have opted for online teaching, but she has missed out on interacting with students and colleagues.

However, she encouraged others to embrace the profession.

“I’m glad I took the TEFL course, and the second career it gave me, and the opportunity to meet so many students of all ages from all over the world,” she said.

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