Three Cheers


A quick post to give my support to three good ventures currently doing their best to improve the ELT world.

1. SLB Cooperative

The SLB Cooperative, founded by Neil McMillan, provides language services to companies, organisations and individuals in Barcelona and beyond. Their objective is to provide a whole range of resources and professional development opportunities to members and associates, which in turn enables them to deliver the best possible service to clients. They do English classes, translation, editing, proofreading, and other language services, and they also offer low-cost or free language classes and translation services to those individuals in the community who are otherwise unable to afford them.

As they say on their website, the SLB is “a forward-thinking organisation, not a traditional school or language academy.” Being a cooperative, they cut out the middle-man, and offer clients a personalised service, at great value. What makes them different is that they work for themselves and for each other, and not under a manager who does not understand their jobs. At SLB, they value quality over quantity and service over sales.  To become a member, you contact them, and they invite you to an interview. If everybody is happy, you join. By paying your membership fee, you are a full member of the cooperative. Each associate has the same responsibilities, and the same right to vote. Each associate has the same share in any potential profits, if the cooperative vote to award dividends at the end of the financial year. They have very nice premises in Gracia, where members meet, pool resources, hold training sessions, and can use a well-equipped classroom. There’s a a great atmosphere in their centre, numbers are growing, and I’m going to join next week!

2. TEFL Equity Advocates

TEFL Equity Advocates opposes discrimination against non-native speaker teachers (NNESTs) and has quickly established itself as a powerful voice for change. Its blog has over 2,500 followers, and there’s no doubt that in the last 2 years they’ve made a huge contribution to the fight. Their aims are

  1. Acknowledge and expose the discrimination of NNESTs in TEFL.
  2. Sensitise the public to the problem.
  3. Debunk the most common and damaging myths and stereotypes about NNESTs.
  4. Reduce the number of job ads only for NESTs.
  5. Give self-confidence to NNESTs.

3. Decentralising Teaching and Learning  

Decentralising Teaching and Learning is Paul Walsh’s blog. He created the concept of “Decentralised ELT”, believing that the teaching of languages is over-centralised.  When asked to describe Decentralised Teaching in one sentence he says “The central tenet of Decentralised Teaching would be: Devolving power, resources and responsibility down to the learner in order to optimise learning.  He has a very good ‘dummies guide’  to his teaching methodology on the About page, and there are some great blog posts, free lesson plans and other resources on offer.

4 thoughts on “Three Cheers

  1. I’ll certainly raise a glass to this – thanks Geoff for the endorsement! Decentralised Teaching and Learning started roughly two years ago, initially with a classroom experiment along the lines of Dick Allwright’s ‘experimental practice’, and with the premise that ELT is over-centralised: the coursebooks, the conferences, the institutions etc. I still stand by this critique.

    Considering the way things stand, I probably shouldn’t be surprised at the lack of engagement with my ideas from mainstream ELT, while the likes of ‘Demand High’ keep the conference faithful in rapture. In the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu’s terms, what we have in ELT is a “universe of the undiscussed”, where a whole trove of unexplored (or underexplored) ideas are covered over with the dead leaves of ‘common sense’. So to have blogs like yours Geoff, that question this kind of common sense, or doxa, is important.

    Furthermore, if I had a pound for every time someone said to me, “Things will never change”, I’d be rich! That’s why I’d also like to pay tribute to Neil and everyone at SLB, which was a big inspiration when setting up a grassroots group, Berlin LW GAS, for teachers here in Berlin.

    Marek has also done terrific work publicising the rights of NNESTs, having to argue the case time and again in the face of stubborn opposition from people and institutions who really should be more supportive. Glad to see the tide seems to be turning on NNESTs.


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Will definitely raise a couple of glasses to this! Thanks a lot for mentioning TEFL Equity Advocates 🙂
    I’m glad it’s been causing some ripples of support for the NNEST movement in the ELT community (which hopefully will soon turn into waves).
    And I hope SLB and Paul continue doing their work. I’m a big fan of it 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Cheers for the cheers from SLB! Just in case we mislead anyone, the “plush premises in Gracia” are where we hold public training sessions – the cooperative base is in slightly less plush (but perfectly functional) premises on the edge of Gracia! Anyway Geoff, your membership forms are ready and waiting whenever you are. And hats off to Marek and Paul too. Keep fighting the good fight.


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