What motivates teachers to develop?

Recognised ELT qualifications or more informal professional development are two ways teachers engage in continuous professional development. Some of the questions I am asked time and time again are “should I do an MA or a DELTA?” or “will I earn more money from doing further qualifications”. To give the person an answer, first I need to find out their motivation.

From the pay survey I am conducting, I’ve taken the 74 responses to the question “What would motivate you to do more CPD?”.

The state of things in the world of ELT qualifications is that they don’t always correspond with an immediate pay-rise from employers. While there are definitely exceptions to the rule, the reality for a lot of people is that there is no sudden windfall upon the completion of further qualifications. Even a €2 pay rise per 45-lesson hour (€2.66 per hour) would involve working 25 teaching hours (45minutes) per week for the next 15 months to earn back the €3000 (approx. the price of DELTA module 1, 2 and 3).

That said, teachers still invest in further development with the hope of a pay-rise. In conversations with newly qualified and more experienced teachers, an increase in income ranks high in the motivation they express. While on the topic of further development, in response to the question “what will be different after you finish this qualification”, teachers answers often point to a rise in income. So what form then, if not a pay-rise from an employer, does this take?

OxfordTEFL, who offer the DipTESOL, list the roles some of their graduates have gone onto as: teacher trainer, course book writer, Directors of Studies, Managers at ELT Publishers and opening their own schools. Equally, International House offer the career path post-DELTA as continue teaching, writing, publishing and training – although they are more cautious in making a direct link between the DELTA and academic management (three further IH qualifications in teacher training, a certificate and diploma in academic management in between). The desire to earn more therefore not only comes from the pay-rise, but also the other opportunities available as a result of further training.

ELT qualifications and motivation

ELT qualifications and motivation

Opening new doors

The MA in Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching at Kings College London lists some of the career paths open to graduates as EAP, teaching ESOL, materials development, language testing and assessment, teacher education. So we can safely say that doing one of these three qualifications could open a new door in your ELT career.

Are we benchmarking or preparing for the next level?

Did a DELTA prepare me for academic management? Certainly it would have if it had involved writing observation guidelines, giving feedback on observations, teacher recruitment, course organising, giving workshops and teacher training. I see now that the Module 3 assignment lists for UCL London’s DELTA includes topics like “Language Development for Teachers”.

What about materials development? Trainees receive feedback on their observed lessons and lesson plans in module two, and leave the course with more knowledge of methods and approaches and beliefs and fundamentals behind printed materials – does that prepare them for the world of professional materials development?

The theoretical and practical components of these courses provide a solid benchmark of quality that I’m not going to pick at. Without a doubt they lead you to the metaphoric door in the ELT career ladder. But it’s not just about getting there. With more qualified teachers and a growing industry, training centres have the chance to produce the future leaders of the ELT industry. The motivation on the teachers side to achieve this is there, so for me the big question is:

What if we were preparing people for going through the door as well?

Let’s have a look at some of the more popular ELT qualifications right now and how they rate in terms of the motivations given by teachers in Germany who have completed the pay survey so far.

ELT qualifications

Qualifications: how they rate

Green “Y”s indicate a more positive outcome from the qualification, the red “N” indicates negative and the grey area “?” indicates, well, a grey area.

The grey areas on the Cert IBET and the coaching certification under networking are because some of the courses are face-to-face and some are online. Certainly there is some element of networking on an online courses and some providers such as The Consultants-E are doing a lot to provide synchronous and asynchronous interaction possibilities to limit the networking and interaction trade-off by doing your course online. The distance DELTA does have an orientation session at the start of the course, which provides opportunities to network at the start of your course.

Beyond networking with your fellow trainees and your trainers, which courses provide networking opportunities with industry specialists – the kind of contacts that are good to have for the future at publishers, universities teacher training organisations and testing companies? Do they train networking skills? I smell a unique selling point here for an innovative (and underworked – ahaha) group of teacher trainers.

Do they train networking skills?

We definitely use them. If you have ever been to a workshop or conference, a lot of your time will have been spent networking.

Not the only skills necessary for an ELT professional, but essential for expanding your job prospects and connecting with the ‘open new doors’ motivation. To sprinkle a few more relevant skills to help you make your way through that door, I would include:

  • Front-end web development
  • Marketing
  • Budgeting
  • Market research
  • Recruiting
  • Conflict management
  • Writing business plans
  • Presenting

Non-ELT Income Streams

Beyond taking on some work on summer camps or busying yourself writing a book, the down-turn in work is really tough for teachers. The opposite is true at the end of the tourist seasons (June-September) in the UK, when the winter months become a struggle to keep your hours up. No surprise then that non-ELT income streams would rate among the motivations – even only at 8%.

ELT qualifications and motivation

When the rainy day comes, the ability to fall back on non-ELT revenue could be the difference between keeping afloat and ELT losing another talented teacher. Sites like Odesk and Elance are a starting point to find out what skills are in demand and how much they pay. According to data from Linkedin, some of the most sought-after skills in 2014 are the following:

1. SEO/SEM Marketing

2. User-interface design

3. Digital and online marketing

4. Pearl/Python/Ruby


The Career Foundry, A Berlin based start-up, offers courses in front-end web development and UX design for around the same price as a DELTA would set you back, and you can keep teaching at the same time. If the 8% is you, this might be the professional development you’ve been looking for.

 So where does it leave us?

We’ve discovered that there are various factors motivating teachers to do continuous professional development. The most common are to improve career prospects and personal development. We want to grow and we want to further our ELT careers, which is no surprise from the teachers I meet.

Course providers’ efforts to connect with our motivation to develop and ultimately get us to buy their product could be more effective. The gap between what is learned in the course and what is expected in the future career can be reduced without reinventing the wheel. My hope is that in the future ELT qualifications manage to bridge this gap successfully.


What do language schools pay in Germany?

Thanks very much to everyone who looked at the last blog post on direct client freelance rates in Germany for English language teachers, based on the results from the 2014 Germany Pay Survey I conducted this year.

As freelancers, your time is split between a number of different clients, right? So it’s fair to say that 100% of your time won’t always be given to the highest paying, most lucrative and profitable section of the market out there, right? That’s why the main focus of this post will be on what private language schools pay. Yes, they’re the lowest paying in terms of hourly remuneration of any segment of the pay survey, and debates as to why and what is possible to do about this will not be the focus of this post. As always, the aim is to take the data and give an angle on it.

What’s your method?

As with the previous post, I took the data sets for highest and lowest hourly remuneration in each city and ran the 10th-90th percentiles on these. I also included the top 10 percentiles, as this is where we normally see the most drastic changes (this tends to identify higher rankers as well).

Have you added any special sauce?

Special sauce? Excuse me? Oh, you mean the extra figures I added for Berlin. Yes, I took the figures from the ELTABB institutional evaluation form carried out last year and added them to the data, which add more number to the Berlin data set. If you’re an ELTABB member, I can give you the link to this.


The table below shows the percentiles. What the devil is a percentile and how is it different from a percentage?

The percentile rank of a score is the percentage of scores in its frequency distribution that are the same or lower than it. For example, a test score that is greater than or equal to 75% of the scores of people taking the test is said to be at the 75th percentile rank.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percentile_rank

If you take for example the 50th percentile in Stuttgart. This represents the hourly renumeration which is equal to 50% of the rates (highest and lowest) people gave in the survey for the that city. The number is €23 per 45 mins. In Berlin for example, the hourly remuneration that is equal to 50% of the rates given in the survey is €18 per 45 mins*

Screen Shot 2014-11-19 at 11.20.27


What you can see in the table below is the graph for Germany based on the figures in the table above.



Poor and sexy, I hear you say? It would seem that from the data Berlin lags behind the rest of Germany. Starting slow and finishing slow seems to be the pattern for Berlin in all areas.


Potential Pesky Data 
I’ve added this heading in an attempt to qualify some of the patterns found in the Rhine Area and the massive growth of Stuttgart at the end of the graph you can see above. The Rhine line looks the way it does because there were too few data entries in the sample. I’ve included it in the totals because, well, it’s part of the other studies, but also to demonstrate that at times some data has to be left out, which is why Munich and Hamburg, despite providing results, has remained largely untouched by this survey.

The stuttgart figure goes to show that looking at the data as percentiles is perhaps a more accurate way of showing the trends the mean, medium or mode. The outlying data in this case hasn’t seriously skewed the majority of the data, quite the opposite actually, we can identify it more easily as a potentially pesky result.

*you might be wondering what all this means without any comparison to average wages, rents, living costs in each of these cities. You would be right, very right, and good job for spotting that. It’ll be the subject of a later post in which I look at a “living wage” so to speak and examine the probability of a trainer making it. Keep your eyes peeled.

What do Freelance Language Trainers Charge?

This post aims to give you a bit more insight into the spread of the hourly rates of freelance language trainers in Germany. Before reading, please not that I have limited my search to direct contracts, which means a learner or group of learners you have directly with companies rather than through a language school or any type of ‘middle man’.

After publishing the first round of results from the Germany Pay Survey 2014, there’s been a lot of positive feedback and in particular some really interesting observations:

Frances commented that:

I’m also wondering about the highest and lowest figures for hourly rates for direct work…was there a big difference? I find the results interesting because the Stuttgart average figure seems quite low to me.  Most people I know won’t accept less than 35 Euros from direct clients (more or less a guideline) and usually get about 45 Euros. By the way, I have the impression that the rates  have been stagnant for the last 10 years and people are hesitant to ask for more

Mura Nova also commented that

When you say you averaged did you take the mean?

If so did you try say try taking the middle or median score as well as you say for example that Stuttgart may be an outlier and so mean can be distorted by extreme scores?

Thanks for your questions. Your input and curiosity has given me the motivation to kick-start another foray into the data.I hope to provide an introductory answer below in this video.

What about the other areas surveyed?

I reran the same calculations for the remaining areas surveyed (Frankfurt, Berlin and the Rhine Area*). This is what was thrown out:

Screen Shot 2014-11-12 at 15.05.21

What you might notice is that firstly, Berlin hourly freelance rates for direct contracts lag behind every other area surveyed. As we saw before, the distribution throughout the percentiles for Stuttgart doesn’t vary as much as it does in other areas of Germany, which could explain the ‘stagnant’ comment. Here’s the same information in a pretty graph format (excluding the top 10 percentiles)


What is extremely evident from this graph is that the 80th-90th percentiles in Frankfurt earn more per 45 mins than any other region surveyed. What’s also interesting to note is that, although not hitting the same highs as Frankfurt, the Rhine Area has a more even distribution of hourly remunerations than any other area surveyed. Quite simply, trainers surveyed in this region are more likely to earn between €35-55 per hour than in any other region.

What about if we include percentiles from 90-100? 

Funny you should ask, because here’s another pretty graph to show just that:


So we can see from this graph that only the 99th percentile in the Rhine Area earns €75,5 (70+), while the 96th-99th in Stuttgart, the 90th-99th in Frankfurt and the 96th-99th in Berlin. What’s more, we can see that from the 80th percentile downwards, the increase in hourly remunerations is gradual and steady, changing to sharp and sudden increase when the 90 percentile is reached.

So what does it all mean?

That’s up to you, dear reader. My conclusion here is that it’s less common to earn above €50 per 45mins and the top 10% of trainers are able to charge over 26% more than the rest of the pack.

Again, comments and suggestions are welcomed. To get hold of me directly, just send me a message below:

*Rhine Area is a wishy washy category – I know, there are lots of cities this could include. The reason for this categorisation is that I grouped all responses from trainers that are members of ELTA Rhine or a city around the region this association serves. In the next edition of the survey, the categories will be altered to remove this grouping.


When your hourly rate is what’s paying the bills at the end of the month, time is money and you want to find the easiest ways of managing your workload. If you’re a freelance language trainer, these recommended apps to help you manage your freelance workload could be the difference between a Friday evening free with a couple of friends over a few glasses of wine and admin-hell.

From the Germany Pay survey and the other interviews I’ve had with freelance teachers in Germany since, together with the hundreds of conversations I’ve had with freelance teachers, a variety of non-teaching expenses emerged, which I’m sure you’re more than familiar with (anything from travel time to those hours spent at the end of the month writing your invoices). If you’re looking for some time-saving ways to make your service more efficient, I’ve listed a few solutions below that might be of interest:

Travel time

Actually this is invaluable for keeping track of anything you spend time on. Toggl is free to download android, and iphone or you can access it on the website. Keep track of anything, separate your hours worked into projects and they’ll even send you a weekly breakdown. Great for seeing how much time you spend travelling and even more valuable it you plan on billing for travel or integrating it into your price.


Task management

Had the third lesson with a client and it is time to send them their first bill? Manage everything in trello. More than just a to-do list, you can manage your workload, breaking down tasks and moving them along your own mini production line until they are finished. It’s free but if you want to add pretty pictures and upload more documents then it starts to cost.



Money Bird is now available in Germany. While I haven’t had the chance to use this myself, I’ve been told by colleagues who freelance more than I do that it’s a great tool to help you manage your invoicing services – great if you’ve got a number of different clients.



Up at the crack of dawn on a Saturday and catching up with some emails? Home late at night and need to send something important? Have it arrive just in time and plan the delivery of your emails. If, like me, you sometimes catch up with emails on Sunday evening, you can set them to hit the recipient’s mailbox on Monday morning at 9am. More importantly, you can write all your invoices, attach them, address them and have them sent at specific times. If you need to make changes in the meantime all you need to do is go to your outbox and you’re sorted. Genius.

If you use Apple Mail, there’s a great plugin you can download SendLater

If you use Outlook, try the delayed deliver option. You can find out more here 

If you use Gmail, try Boomerang 

Blended Learning

Edmodo offers flexibility and a user friendly platform. While it’s older brother Moodle takes a little more learning investment, the start up costs are lower with Edmodo. The OUP blog provides a great introduction to using Edmodo too if you want to check it out. While I know this about the 6 millionth mention of Edmodo and ELT, its simplicity and user-friendly interface make it a must-include.

So there you have it, some quick tips on how you can make the most of your time, so that you can take more of your time out to focus on what’s most important! By no means a comprehensive list, just a few favourites that have worked well for me or colleagues.

Want to contribute your view? Leave your story below on how something has helped streamline your workload, save time, or just generally make your life more awesome.

ELT Stat | What it’s all about

The reason this blog exists is to disseminate the information collected in the 2014 Germany Pay Survey and ensure all future forays into this data set or any subsequent dataset has a place online, readily available, for anyone to find, any time of the day or night.

We’re really excited about hearing what you have to say. You can drop us a line here through this contact form. Feel like asking a question that’s not currently answered by the data? Shoot us a line. Want to give us some ideas on what we can do in the future? Drop by and send us your thoughts.