One sometimes-overlooked fact about private language teaching, and especially in-company classes, is that the instructor must be aware of a much broader set of needs than just the students’. Of course, as teachers, we always pay attention to the learners’ needs (or what we think they are) but sometimes we can lose sight of the other stakeholders.
Obviously, we need to acquaint ourselves with the needs of each learner in a group. We want to know where and how they use English, what problems they have and why they decided to take the course (among other things). This will help us choose materials, design a syllabus that covers their needs and keep them motivated.
We are stakeholders in our classes as well! We need reliable scheduling and location information as well as something more general which is related to stakeholders 3 and 4: we need to get paid.
The company HR or training director
Many times the course objectives will be shared by the learners and the training department who is paying for the lessons. But it is our responsibility, as the leader of the class, to be sure that this is actually the case. If we do not provide good value, as defined by the person who pays the invoices, and if we do not know what that is, we’re going to run afoul of stakeholder 4.
The school needs to sell courses to stay in business, and they especially want to get repeat business. The only way they can do that is if the courses meet the needs of all the other stakeholders. The school administration should certainly keep you informed about the company’s needs and requirements, but it’s our responsibility to get in touch with our admin if we are unsure about anything. If I lose a client because I didn’t provide the value they wanted, I’m probably not going to be trusted with too many more clients. Whether I like it or not, there is definitely a customer service aspect to teaching in-company classes and I need to be a team player if I want to get more hours with my school.
It’s not always easy to keep everything in harmony, but sometimes we have to remember that the perfect is the enemy of the good and give the students good lessons in order to give them more lessons.
Have you had any problems with groups like these? Tell us about it in the comments!