Karen Aughtry & Jennifer Cummins
This June, we put out a fresh survey among BC TEAL members to discover more about our demographic.
Completion rate for the survey was high. We had forty-six members respond, with over half (twenty-six) from Metro Vancouver. The remainder were eight from the Fraser Valley; four from the Okanagan; three each from the islands and Thompson-Nicola; and one each from Northern BC and other.
Firstly, we were curious about the areas of the sector that our members are from. Surprisingly, none of the responders were TESL students; rather, being a field of such diverse roles and niches, our respondents were from a broad variety of professional positions: The vast majority ranged in careers from LINC instructor, manager, coordinator to general instructors, managers, coordinators, lecturers, and assistant/associate professors. There were two responders who specialized in IELTS teaching and testing, one curriculum manager and case manager, directors, and a recruiter.
Next, we asked about the current employment situation of this diverse group. In terms of percent, 64% are full-time, and 19% are employed part time. Of the remainder, 13% are on contract, and 10% are “non-applicable”. The vast majority work for one employer.
We were also interested in the happiness index of our professional membership. Are they happy in their roles, are they surviving, or are they struggling through from one day to the next? Seventy-four percent reported that their current roles are ones they wanted and are satisfied with. Fifteen percent have not attained the position they desire, and eleven percent prefer not to say. Set in the context of 75% having worked more than fifteen years in the industry, there is longevity that speaks to their satisfaction.
Next, we wanted to know the education level of our membership. Three have Doctoral Degrees, thirty-one have Master’s Degrees, and ten have Bachelor’s Degrees.
In regard to longevity of membership in BCTEAL, results show that 45/46 of the responders have been in BCTEAL from two to more than ten years. Almost half of those members purchase yearly memberships, whereas a few have two or year memberships, and several have special discounted memberships.
Additionally, many of our members are associated with other professional groups. Although 30% belong solely to BC TEAL, TESL Canada is an added connection for 46%, TESOL International for 26%, and the Canadian Association of Applied Linguistics and IATEFL each have 6.5%. The other 22% belong to unnamed organizations.
Curious as to how much our responders participate in BCTEAL events and publications, we asked, “How have you participated in BCTEAL?” The vast majority (85%) both participate in yearly conferences and in reading newsletters. The next largest rating for participation (66%) is attendance at regional conferences and BC partner events. Many (77%) browse our website and 64% attend webinars or other online events. Of the respondents, 40% have volunteered with BC TEAL for events or positions.
Surprisingly, not many responders utilized BC TEAL’s social media! The highest draw is the Facebook site at 28%, with Twitter following at 19%. Instagram, the Blog, YouTube, and LinkedIn are scarcely visited.
So, what do the survey results say about BC TEAL (besides that only one person may be reading this blog article)?
The higher ratings by responders revealed that their professional needs were met by this organization in terms of professional development opportunities (87%), networking opportunities (67%), updates on current issues in English language teaching (61%), and communication and updates on association activities and events (57%).
Thus, when asked what they hoped to get from BC TEAL membership, “choosing all that apply”, EVERYONE checked the boxes for all the following: networking and professional development opportunities, discounts on conference and pro-d fees, advocacy for the profession, updates on issues, opportunities in leadership and volunteering, recognition, and access to awards and scholarships from the TEAL Charitable Foundation. Thus, it was no surprise in response to the greatest benefit of joining BC TEAL, the above points were reiterated, appreciating the kindred spirit and professional identity that ensues.
Comments from survey participants on what BC TEAL provides for members:
“The greatest benefit is to stay connected to colleagues and see what other institutions are doing, and to contribute to the field through research and teaching expertise.”
“Networking and leadership opportunities”
“To be a member of a professional community”
Even in the best of organizations there is room for improvement, and this information comes from the participants:
In selecting “all that apply” (and referring only to the highest percentages), 41% wanted more membership benefits, 33% wanted more engagement with the EAL sector, and 28% desired more communication between TEAL and its members. There were many specific suggestions for improvement, which the board will consider.
Comments from survey participants on BC TEAL areas of improvement:
“I’d love to have more updates / info provided by the BC TEAL board and the members.”
“More in person networking events”
“Additional networking and professional development and training opportunities.”
Thank you to all who participated in this survey. Your opinion, interaction, and commitment mean much to the survey committee and board.
Karen has been a member of BC TEAL for over a decade. It is her love of professional development that propelled her teaching from the first steps of tutoring and homeschooling to attaining her undergrad and graduate degrees (MATESOL). After several years of retirement from her EAP position and membership expiration from BC TEAL, she renewed her membership, realizing the value of being part of the community, continuing to learn and give.
Jennifer Cummins is a passionate, creative, and committed instructor in the field of English as an Additional Language. Over the past 15 years, she has worked in a variety of settings, including international education, non-profit work, and post-secondary. She has shown leadership at both provincial and national scales by presenting at conferences, leading professional development opportunities for other educators, and consulting on policy decisions for the provincial and federal governments. Jennifer maintains active involvement in both private and public sectors of EAL education. She continues to look for new opportunities to develop as a leader in the educational field.