Lately,I have been receiving emails from people who would like advice on getting work as an EFL - ESL teacher in Greece. I suppose that they have looked in Google and come across my blog. In the beginning I was careful not be appear too negative and so just said that they should check out the ministry of education's website for the requirements and be sure that they know their work rights before signing any contracts with schools here. .
However, I have come to the conclusion that somebody who is serious about teaching would be best off going to another country and that the conditions in which teachers, both foreign and Greek are currently working are going from bad to worse.
It is not just the low pay (try living on 700-900 Euros in today's Greece) or that you're only fired every summer holiday, it's also the fact that the treatment of educators in the private sectors has fallen to an all-time low. High graduate unemployment and a struggling economy means that there is a seemingly endless stream of people willing to work in foreign language schools. As a result the value put on educators is minimal and this is reflected in the rapidly deteriorating working conditions. Summary dismissal, abusive behaviour and irrational demands are now par for the course in many schools.
Thankfully,I have manged to avoid most of this, however, many of my colleagues have not been so lucky. A case in point is Lambrini, a hard working teacher wth many years experience and mother - of - two. Like many others, she too was looking for a new position in a language school this September. During her search for work she came into contact with a possible employer via Hyphen, "an ambitious company dedicated to inspiring realism, quality standards and viable practices to educational businesses throughout Europe ".
After phoning the school and talking about working there part - time Lambrini, mentioned the fact that there might be a possible timetable clash with her other job and asked to postpone her decision for a day or two so as to re-arrange her programme in order to accommodate the school.
Apparently, this so outraged the school owner that she immediately contacted Hyphen to complain. In turn Hyphen then sent the following email saying that Lambrini had been "blacklisted".
"Dear Mrs. M#######,
We had received your Curriculum Vitae for a potential Teaching position September 5th, 2008.
During that time, we were pleased to hear you had accepted a teaching position at Mrs. K##### Foreign Language School at Evosmos,
however, much to our disappointment, we were informed that after you had agreed to a cooperation with Mrs. K######, you decided to terminate that cooperation in a rather sudden manner.
Please note that we only accept professional behaviour, be that of potential teacher applicants, or school owners.
We consider your behaviour was not of the standard we require and for that reason, you have been blacklisted.
In addition, we have also informed Foreign Language School owners of the above.
Academic Project Manager
hyphen (engineering education)
As you can see the situation is truly dire when simply asking for more time to make a decision is grounds enough to get you blacklisted. Nor are such extreme reactions isolated incidents. In Athens, Thanasis Papadopoulos, a teacher of German working for the Europaiki Poreia language school was fired and then sued for "abusing the honour and esteem" of a student when he dared take his case to the local teacher's union. Not content with this the school owner also took union representative, Dimitris Papadopoulos to court for "slandering" the school's "good name".
These two cases are just the tip of the iceberg. In many language schools poor wages, chronic job insecurity and abusive employers are now par for the course. Bugged classrooms, teacher reduced to tears by screaming bosses, non-payment of bonuses and insurance contributions no longer raise eyebrows.
So, if you are considering teaching EFL/ESL in Greece, you seriously need to think about what you are letting yourself in for.