I am very new to the world of TEFL and will be starting a CELTA in the new year, as some of you might have seen from my posts on other threads.
Until I begin my CELTA course [assuming that the college to which I have applied is happy with my pre-course test!!] I am trying to gain as much experience as possible. I have been working as a volunteer assistant with various groups of learners etc.
Several people I know have suggested that I apply to an organisation called Vaughan Town in order to get some further experience. Let me say at the outset that I am satisfied that this is a genuine organisation: it has a proper website etc.
My question is this: is Vaughan Town really treating its 'volunteers' fairly?
From what I can find out on its website and from talking to people, Vaughan Town was started in Spain by an American called Richard Vaughan, with the purpose of teaching Spaniards to speak English by a 'total immersion' method.
Vaughan Town is a fully commerical concern, not a form of not-for-profit cultural organisation. The way that it operates appears to be that Spaniards [who mainly come from large Spanish companies] pay Vaughan Town around 4000 Euros a week. For this, they get taken to a complex in Spain where NO Spanish is allowed to be spoken. Instead, the Spaniards get 1-to-1 English Conversation with native English speakers [who may be American, English, Australian, Irish, Canadian etc.] who are known as Anglos. This teaching start at breakfast and continues until after dinner. It appears that the Anglos 'move on' to a 'new' Spaniard every hour or so, but even with a couple of hours 'off work' during the 'siesta', the Anglos [who appear to be mostly graduates / professional people etc] find themselves 'teaching' for 8 or 9 hours a day. It appears to be reasonably 'hard' work.
Here is the bit that I am worried about: the Anglos receive 'free accommodation and 3 meals a day' for the week they spend at the complex. They get no other form of payment [not even 'pocket money'] and so have to pay for any items of personal expenditure themselves. [Mostly bar bills and visits to the complex swimming pool etc]. Fair enough perhaps, except that the Anglos are ALSO required to pay for their own flights to Spain and also for the 2 overnight stays they require - at the beginning and at the end of the week. Vaughan Town does cover health insurance and also travel from Madrid to the venue, which I think is several hours by road from Madrid.
My question is this - do people here think that the Anglos are being exploited to some degree by this sytem? To me, it seems that Vaughan Town is actually getting its tutors for free. The company is a fully commerical concern, and a quick google I did this evening turns up a newspaper article about Vaughan himself entited ' How I made millions' [of dollars out of my English teaching system].
Whilst it does seem that many of the Anglos have a good time [albeit a tiring time, as it seems quite hard work] and many friendships are apparently formed, the whole system makes me feel a little uneasy. Obviously I would have no qualms if Vaughan Town was a not-for-profit organisation [or some form of educational institution] but it just seems to be a bit of a con.
I hope that people here do not think that I am going into TEFL teaching with the wrong frame of mind, and I am more than happy to work for free [which I am doing with the volunteer work I am undertaking at present] for not-for-profit organisations and neither do I expect to earn a fortune as a TEFL teacher, but there is something that worries me about the Vaughan Town arrangement.
Thank you for reading this.