Thoughts and reflections

Taking time out?

I’ve been quiet on here for a longish while. Today this came up on Timehop and I thought I’d give writing a try.*

It hasn’t been writer’s block, though. It’s been a new job. Around 3 months ago I started working full time in an office job, entirely unconnected to ELT. There we go; I’ve said it. I’ve tweeted the occasional (fairly) oblique reference to the new job since then, and updated my Linkedin profile, but haven’t spoken about it in detail, except to my family and some friends.

It isn’t a secret, obviously, but it *has* been a change. Primarily because of the lack of ties to English teaching – something I’ve been doing my whole working life. Or since 1997. The job is in the education sector, so it’s not as if I’ve moved on to a completely unfamiliar field, but it’s not what I’ve sort of built my professional identity around.

It’s a great job: there’s a lot to learn, it’s rewarding in many ways… what’s not to like? On so many levels it made complete sense to go for it, particularly as things have been less than ideal recently at the institution I’ve been working for over the past nine years.

Since I began teaching I’ve met countless teachers who eventually quit ELT for jobs that promised greater stability and security. When I say ‘quit ELT’ I mean quit working for private language schools – teachers working in the state sector seem to make this change less often. For a very long time I thought I was going to be one of those teachers – I wrote about this for the #YoungerTeacherSelf challenge. But then, especially over the last couple of years while I lived in Belgium, I became used to the idea of always being in ELT in some way. I suspect this feeling was encouraged by the fact that in a new country my teacher identity allowed me to hang on to something familiar. Also probably by the comforting, if possibly misguided, belief that I’ve “achieved” something in this field – feel free to interpret achievement as you like – and that it would require too much effort to start something new at this point.

I guess this is why I keep telling myself that I’m just trying this job on for size – it’s a temporary contract anyway. If it doesn’t work out, I can always come back to ELT.

If you had the choice of leaving teaching after a long time in the profession, what would you do? And if you decided to stay, what do you think would be the deciding factor?

* In the interest of addressing petty concerns accuracy “today” was August 18.


By ven_vve

ELT, elearning, higher ed, teacher training, translation. Partial to the island of Vis since the pre-tourist era.

11 replies on “Taking time out?”

Congrats on your new job! I haven’t left ELT but my teaching context has changed a lot throughout the years. Maybe that variety is why I haven’t given up teaching? Who knows? Change is good. Enjoy it 😊😊

Liked by 1 person

Thanks, Joanna. Yes, different teaching contexts made it more interesting for me as well. Enjoying the change already. 🙂 Hope you’re doing well – still in the UK?


Hi Vedrana
Im sure you will be just fine!
I think it is very healthy to try new jobs, provided one has the opportunity and the right situation to do so, but it also means stepping out of your confort zone, as you say ,and plunging into a brand new way of working and sometimes having to learn from scratch. So I admire your attitude towards it and Im sure it will continue being as rewarding as it is now.
You might not be tweeting so much ELT related info, but I will still keep up with everything you share because it is always so interesting ; )
Best of luck in this new adventure!

Liked by 2 people

Thanks, Anabel, and thank you for the kind comment re my tweets. 🙂 I’ve certainly stepped out of my comfort zone and I had some concerns about perhaps not being as useful to my colleagues as I might be if I were teaching, but these concerns went away pretty quickly.


Congratulations on the relatively new job. When I got married I got tired of earning less money than most people my age and looked into accounting and stuff. I realised during a distance learning course that it wasn’t for me. I think teaching is, but heavens, language schools don’t make it easy to stay long-term in the profession, do they?

As you say, ELT is always something you can go back to.

Liked by 3 people

Thanks, Marc. I’m pretty sure I would’ve discovered the same re accounting – anything accounts-related was the part I felt most uncomfortable with while we still ran Octopus. Completely agree that language schools are making it tough for people to stay – tougher than ever these days, it seems.

Liked by 2 people

Hi Vedrana, congratulations! I’m so happy you have found a job you like!- It seems working as a school manager and this new job have much in common.
I’ve quit ELT several times. First time after 2 years – I was collapsing from carrying the heavy bag around. I found a job in an office but lasted 5 months only. I hated it so much. Then I found a job as a translator with the Czech News Agency and I would have stayed till retirement if they’d given it back to me after a long maternity period (talk about woman’s rights?). I went back to private language schools, class hopping and all this. I was really lucky to find a university job last year. It’s still freelance but I do have some security – no cancellations and a solid background.
Wishing you all the best. Kamila

Liked by 3 people

Thanks very much, Kamila! It’s telling that you always found your way back to teaching – thanks for sharing the details. I was just talking to a friend who used to work at Octopus and she has a job interview at a language school tomorrow. She’s been in an office job for a while now and would really like to get back into teaching. When I heard this, I was as excited and happy as if I was the one going to the interview. 🙂

Liked by 3 people

Hi Vedrana,

I know the feeling — I spent so long not really thinking of ELT as a solid profession, and now that I’m as professional as I’ve ever been in ELT, I’ve also been doing lots of non-ELT work (copywriting/translation) that is taking on fuller and fuller time status. For all the reasons you and Marc and others mentioned — hours, stability, contract, burn-out. As Marc said — the industry makes it hard for even the best and most passionate teachers to stay in!

Best of luck with your career path, wherever it leads you!

Liked by 1 person

Hi Kyle,

Thanks very much – really appreciate it! It’s been hectic this past week, with exams on top of regular office hours, so I apologize for being a little slow to respond. Copywriting/translation sounds great – I do some proofreading/translating occasionally and like that kind of work, especially if the deadlines are reasonable.

Liked by 1 person

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