Written by Alex Hickey
3rd February 2018
The Fall of an Empire
Imagine the nightmarish bureaucracy, which by the way is the word I hate the absolute most in the English language not only because of what it means but also because I can never get the spelling right. Anyway, nightmarish bureaucracy, tedium of having to go over the same crap day in and day out, having more work in summer and barely a pay check worth of living in the winter and to top it all off, the constant crippling fear and paranoia of having to deal with, ugh, teenagers or worse, kids, constantly round the corner. No, dear readers, I know what you are thinking and no we are not going to perish into the obtuse world of jobs again, no rather this week I want to take you on a personal journey into a world that those who are unaware of it will be shocked and dismayed, and those who are in it will be curl up into their fetal positions and rock back and forth in the discomfort of having to go back to it on Monday morning.
I am speaking here of the world of ESL in Malta, or MEASL as I call it, what does the ‘A’ stand for, nothing really, but it reminds us all of what a measly life and what a measly pay it brings. Before we proceed, for all you hard working, full time jack offs out there, let me just sock it to you like this and lay down the basics of what this job entails, for a lot of people tend to discredit it for various reasons quite unfairly.
Let me be the first after three years in the industry to say, blow me. A good majority of people who work in this industry work in it year round these days, a lot of them are highly competent and well qualified people who often times come from distant lands to practice a craft which they feel should validate and challenge them as well as earn them a living. I have nothing against the college students who come in the summer and often times barely know or care about what they are doing and why should they? They’re studying law or architecture or some other swineous course that will get them ‘good’ high paid jobs. And of course I’m kidding that I have nothing against these people but kind of not really, but kind of yeah, but kind of not. You figure it out, dunce.
Often times this goes the completely opposite way. In my time in marketing here on this website, I’ve come to realize that office jobs are usually things that blind monkeys could do with the correct instruction. Trying to teach people about reflexive and ergative verbs with the pronoun included while still making it entertaining enough and not trying to wake up that dumbass kid who barely ever shows up, and always asks dumb questions when actually around is, as my favorite cartoon duck once said, like balancing a pot of scalding water on your head while people whip your butt and legs. You never forget your senior prom indeed! I’d sit through a 90 minute bored meeting three times a day then have to come up with an interesting, new lesson for a couple of dopey, lame duck students from Europe’s rejection bucket any day.
That in of itself is a total farce and honestly, I would be hard pressed to admit all in all it is better than minimum wage when it really comes down to it. Why? Not happy with €10 an hour after taxes? There are various reasons, trust me. The internal politics of a standard ESL school can range from ‘Down and Out on the streets of London and Paris’, to pure ‘1984’ at times. I’ve been in schools where the director sits and rolls cigars on his Cadillac sized desk and demeans your efforts when you mention that you teach voluntarily to refugees in a fleeting attempt at getting some experience, with racist and unkind comments that are an offense to everyone in the room not only yourself. I’ve met people who backstab you and get students to complain about you in an attempt to get more hours from off of you, risking your stability and the food in your mouth. And then there are schools where the downtrodden teachers who ultimately just want to get paid and go home are subjected to pointless and endless paperwork so when you consider that €10 an hour in the classroom can easily take an extra hour and a half outside of the class, depending on how much effort you put into planning a lesson and it is important, trust me. On top of that you’d be hard pressed to find someone who has at least 6 hours of work a day and if they do have those kinds of hours, they can forget the weekend because after all those hours you are completely wasted by the end.
Not to mention and honestly, this is in my opinion the worst part, is the feudal system that rules the whole industry, it’s disgusting. I don’t know any other industry in which you need to jump through so many hoops to keep your job. And it all comes from the ungodly MATEFL council or whatever they are called. As part of your job, you need to take out eight hours a year to go to sessions or seminars that drag on for hours and are essentially all the bourgeoisie of the EFL world in Malta patting each other on the back and yucking it up about how hard they all work, while you sit and watch this display of mockery knowing you’ve had to pay for the membership, so in the end you end up paying to keep your job. Legalized theft, I would go further and say that this is life invasion, but what do I know, I’m just an armchair hero, sitting at my computer complaining all the time.
Be that as it may, I will leave you with this, there are some really decent people I have met in the EFL industry in Malta, people I model my own work ethic after, and these people are being taken advantage of by their superiors as we speak, teachers are being over crowded with work and are being forced to engage in questionable behavior just to get by. My opinion and over all my point is that, if for no one else for these good people, we need to put a stake through the hearts of these circus clowns and strike down the dark empire, et tu Brutus? Don’t be so naïve, I was never really on your side anyway.