Featured Speaker

David Paul
(Language Teaching Professionals)

David Paul started David English House in Hiroshima in 1982 and built it up to become one of the most respected language schools in East Asia with schools in three countries. In the 1990s, he launched and built up distance MA courses from the University of Birmingham and University of Sheffield and published a number of ELT books that became bestsellers. Since then he has established ETJ (English Teachers in Japan), a volunteer group that now has about 10,000 members, the Expos that are held annually in five cities around Japan, TESOL Certificate programs, a facebook page that has 400,000 fans, established Language Teaching Professionals, and published more books.

Establishing and building up support for teachers and students

Looking back, I seem to have spent my adult working life infiltrating worlds and institutions that I have fundamental issues with in order to try and change them or, at least, provide an alternative. My journey as a teacher, school owner and teacher trainer has been shaped by this mission.

Like many other teachers, I have often been appalled by the exploitation of education by for-profit businesses. It seems to me that many of the goals and attitudes that are often normal in the business world are inappropriate in the world of education. Education is about supporting others. Goals such as profit, market share, business growth, manipulation of people through clever sales strategies etc. are not educational because they are inherently self-centered.

I don't mean that educators are 'good' people and business people are 'evil'. Many of my best friends work for companies that have conventional business goals. My issue is with those at the top of education businesses who have the power to shape the polices and culture of their businesses and who choose to focus on goals such as profit and business growth, not with those who just do their best to implement those policies and often try and make them more human.

I have to admit that I owned a large company that grew very fast, though, generally speaking, we were breaking new ground, so I hope we weren't putting others out of business. Also, our competitors were almost always profit-oriented education businesses.

We focused on educational rather than business goals and this meant we were often surviving by the skin of our teeth and ultimately went bankrupt. Many have said we could have achieved more if we had had a more business-like approach and accumulated profit. It is certainly true that some of our failures probably could have been avoided. But, we would have had a different culture that would have permeated through to all our teachers and staff and everything we touched, and we would have had less trust and credibility in the world of education.

That trust and credibility enabled us to achieve many worthwhile goals that would have been out of reach if we had had a business culture. In 28 years, we taught English to about 100,000 students in the Hiroshima area with our trained teachers using student-centered methodology; we trained tens of thousands of teachers around East Asia; we had about 200 teachers taking MAs through us at any one time for 15 years; my books that are rooted in student-centered psychology sold about 2,000,000 copies and influenced a lot of schools and teachers; we started a free association for teachers (ETJ) that now has over 10,000 members; and we broke down lots of barriers that, at first sight, seemed impenetrable.

In the presentation, I will talk about the aspects of this journey that are most interesting for those who attend and how Language Teaching Professionals has enabled theĀ  journey to continue. I will give attendees alternatives to choose from.