Is 67 really too old?

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Is 67 really too old?

Unread postby Ellis » 14 Jul 2004, 17:53

Oh ... Auntie, my Auntie ...
What unspeakable horrors one ofttimes faces in the wake of growing older while, at the same time, attempting to maintain his/her value in the EFL word. At age 67, with at least 13 successful years of senior-level EFL experience on an international level behind me, I have found it increasingly difficult to sell my assets to employers who have indicated a need for teacher talent in their schools or business enterprises. Of course, I fully realize that I am no longer able to rant and rave (rap), sing grand opera like a pro, or even stand on my desk delivering my much-acclaimed ELVIS imitation -- all with the objective of sparking student attention. Nonethless, my lectures, lessons, and supervision of student English language conversation has been most effective wherever I have been employed in recent times. My complaint today is not so much about my personal problems as it is concerning the overall difficulties of us older folk in what has steadfast become a marketplace for recent college graduates ... and, in many cases, for those who have never attended an institute of higher learning.

Perhaps you may have an observation or two -- possibly a suggestion -- on this disturbing matter. Oh, yes, and before I depart, let me tell you that one of my students recently inquired as to WHEN I planned to retire. Said I, "When they place me into that pine box ... THAT'S when!" Amen.

Ellis
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The Joys of Age

Unread postby Lucy » 18 Jul 2004, 16:01

Dear Niece,

I can understand how you are feeling. I'm no spring chicken myself and sometimes feel that EFL is becoming more and more a career for young people. I think that teachers of your age have as much to offer and your extended experience and knowledge is certainly a benefit. It can sometimes be hard for others to see this.

You seem to have handled the comment in an assertive and light-hearted way and that's great. I think what you can do now is to focus on your assets and skills rather than the thoughts and comments of others.

What comes through in your question is somebody who is knowledgeable in literature and music. Am I right? Have you done any performances? These three are strong points for teachers and you should promote these whenever you can.

You don't say what sort of job you have - whether you work freeelance or are employed by a school - nor whether you are looking for work. Either way, I think it is useful to recap your career history. Go through your CV and remind yourself about the positive points of each job, hobby or stage of your life. What skills did you pick up? What have you learnt about dealing with people? How have you developed personally? Remind yourself of your many assets and be ready to remind others when the time comes. You'll be ready to respond to any comments that come your way from your students or employers. Think about the objections that these people could have about your age and have your own counter-objections ready. I'm not suggesting you get into heated discussions with these people, just be ready to put forward your point of view using your humour.

What did you do before your 13 years of EFL? Can that be exploited in any way in the classroom? Can you teach people from that field? Are there any transferable skills? Thinking about this and your CV will help you see where you are already strong and then work out from that strong base. I am sure that many students would be glad to work with someone of your experience and knowledge. People of your age group who are learning English would probably prefer to work with you than with a recent college graduate. If you are looking for a job, do you have references from past employers and students to support your application? If not, think about getting these and give the info to potential employers before they ask for it.
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