Callout for submissions: Unpaid labour in the language teaching industry

End Unpaid Work!

As part of a developing project, the Angry Language Brigade is requesting submissions about the experiences of unpaid labour by language teaching workers.

In all types of teaching, unpaid prep time is part of the job. What’s not so apparent is all the other free labour that goes into ensuring language schools continue to function.

Language school workers regularly feel the pressure to attend unpaid meetings, training sessions, social activities, and special events. In an industry where favouritism all too often trumps experience, we sometimes even face negative consequences for not attending these supposedly optional outings.

In a school where one of our members worked, unpaid IT and admin interns provide a worrying percentage of the labour in their respective departments. In the same school, many teachers are placed into unpaid “speaking classes” so they can gain “experience” and “training”.

These practices are far too common across the industry, but sharing our stories can be an important step in fighting back.

The Angry Language Brigade would like to hear your stories about the unpaid work that goes on in language schools. Once we’ve collected a number of stories, we’ll post up some excerpts and might even try to offer some advice about how language teaching workers can fight back.

We can be reached by private message here on libcom or you can email us at TEFLsolidarity (at)

Also, feel free to post your stories in the comments section below.

You can be as specific or anonymous as your want. Use a fake name for yourself and your language school. Alternatively, we’re happy to name-and-shame bad bosses, so don’t feel like you have to hold back either.

Maybe you’ve had some success fighting back against unpaid labour. If so, we’d especially love to hear from you!

Finally, we’d just like to emphasise that this isn’t limited to teachers. After all, receptionists, teachers, admin, IT, and sales staff – we’re all in the same boat. We have the same bosses and we should be sticking together.


Jun 18 2014 08:58

Sounds good, I hope you get some useful info!

By the way, on "seniority" in the UK this isn't a factor in anything any more, and basically the law means that it can't be because it was found to be discriminatory on the basis of age.

Of course, this is not (yet at least) the case in the US, where I am assuming the person who wrote that sentences from…

Maybe you could change the wording the text to "experience"…

Angry Language ...
Jun 18 2014 09:05

Yup, good point Steven. It was very much "seniority" in the informal sense - an expectation that length of service is respected in terms of job security. But, you're right, experience is much better.