What does training cost?

I just got off the phone with someone who called asking what training costs. I find the price level here in Potsdam hard to gage. On the one hand, the prices I see are in fact very similar to Munich, and our rent here is actually higher than what we paid there (we were pretty lucky in Munich, frankly). In Munich I charged between 40 and 45 Euros for 45 to 60 minutes, providing clients who paid out of their own pocket with add-on free services like an online platform with media and their work to be checked, or ad-hoc email corrections to sweeten the p/bill. With long-standing, well-placed clients, it’s been years since I’ve been short of work. I have generally charged the same for one-to-one as for company courses, as one-to-one is just as challenging if you do it properly. I earn more for specialized skills training in remote locations, to make up for the travelling and the long scripts.

I’ve invested heavily in my training skills to make up for getting older (being young and pretty is undoubtedly the most attractive thing in a language trainer) without raising my rates for training or other services for 5 years. With my most important new client here I am in fact, for the first time, asking 50 Euros an hour. I prepare extensively for these sessions, and don’t teach unprepared conversation-style lessons at all anymore. A well-prepared lesson isn’t content heavy, by the way. On the contrary. Frankly, I’m happy to leave unprepared lessons to young people, just off the boat, who need a few Euros a month just to be able to stay for a while and who see “teaching English” as “open the book or let’s just talk”. They’ll learn fast, and they’ll be getting training (CELTA etc) if they decide to make it a profession, but how long will they work at the low rate of 15 Euros an hour once they have good skills? No, wait, that’s what the organization makes, and they take home even less. Clients, are you ok with your teacher getting that little pay?

Now, I’m business woman enough to respect price. But my caller’s somewhat shocked response is making me think that low budget, “off-the-boat-English” may be widespread here, and I must say: It’s not my scene, I’m not going there. I won’t charge people for simply speaking English to me, not in this globalized world. My clients get something else.

Mike and the Mechanics: Over my shoulder

Anna Pires, who seems to share all my tastes in music, got this tip from Dave Tucker: “My students think I rock when I do ‘Over my Shoulder’ in class” she says. Of course! Coming up next in my backoffice skills classes too, to get people moving through that tired patch in the afternoon. Thanks to both of you. (video 1: Paul Carrack)

Looking back over my shoulder
I can see that look in your eyes
I never dreamed it could be over
I never wanted to say goodbye

Looking back over my shoulder
with an aching deep in my heart
I wish we were starting over
oh instead of drifting so far apart

Everybody told me you were leaving
funny I should be the last to know
baby please tell me that I’m dreaming
I just never want to let you go

Looking back over my shoulder
I can see that look in your eyes
turning my heart over and over
I never wanted to say goodbye

I don’t mind everybody laughing
but it’s enough to make a grown man cry
’cause I can feel you slipping through my fingers
I don’t even know the reason why

Every day it’s a losing battle
just to smile and hold my head up high
could it be that we belong together
baby won’t you give me one more try
one more try
Looking back oh over my shoulder
(I can see) see that look in your eyes
(I never dreamed) no that it could be over
but I never wanted to say goodbye

(Looking back) looking back (over my shoulder)
oh with an aching (there’s an ache) feeling inside
(cutting me up) oh deeper and deeper
(fills me with a sadness) I can’t hide (that I can’t hide)

song of the week

Documenting takeaways on a flipchart

Cologne board us
Cologne board bits

Last week I experimented with glueing paper onto a flipchart. As we progressed they drew pictures and I wrote up cards as props to hold and tell stories or explain concepts. Glueing the cards in place was the last step, defining what they were supposed to take away. Then we flipped back through in sequence at the end to reconstruct what we’d done. This was to reduce the complexity of the overall takeaways, to lower the learning threshold for people who like to have things tightly under control.

So what you see is the result of a process. It’s very different from the process of using a pinboard and moving things around together, even beyond the end of the course: I’ve sometimes given away specific cards to people who wanted or needed that particular card most to take home as a souvenir.

Lots of room for improvement: Their pictures are great, but their writing and drawings should be on the board at all stages. More co-created visuals for the board might give higher priority to the learning process, over the takeaways. Next time I’ll take magazines with pictures along so we can collaborate on some collages to visualize concepts.

PS: I didn’t use the two big sheets of paper I got for the pinboard. I need to develop some really good new backoffice tasks for the participants to do there.

The BE/ESP Blog Carnival


photo: S. Hofschlaeger / pixelio.de

This roundup of blog posts written by BE/ESP teachers, teacher trainers and materials writers includes personal professional blogs and regular or guest posts for a magazine or publisher. Written for two separate target groups, viz. learners vs. peers, their purpose varies widely:

  1. to reflect on personal development
  2. to share materials and start discussions
  3. to market oneself, or a group of authors, to peers and clients
  4. to organize communications with students and clients.

For a summary of all of the posts,  take a quiz to test yourself on whether you’d want to read that particular post more thoroughly. Each question contains the link you need, and background on the author.

Take the quiz here:

The BE/ESP Blog Carnival Quiz

(quiz made using http://www.proprofs.com software)

A very warm thank you to all of the bloggers or featured guest authors who contributed to this carnival (in the order they arrived):

BESIG Conference in Bielefeld, 19-21 November 2010