Reflections on Innovate ELT

Here is a link to the article/summary I did for the ELTjam website, about the excellent Innovate ELT conference that was recently held in Barcelona. A thoroughly enjoyable and very different way to do a conference.


The Industry and the damage done

Taken from Google images -

Taken from Google images –

On Saturday morning, before attending the Innovate conference I tweeted this:

Would it be innovative to stop using the word ‘industry’ with ELT and start using the word ‘profession’?

While I’m well aware this is not particularly innovative, I still think it is a question worth investigation. In fact, it produced some interesting responses;

  1. as long as schools blindly respond to the demands of the market (tests) there is no better word than industry 😉

the fact many language schools are run by business people rather than educators doesn’t help either.

I’d never thought of the two being in opposition before.

Looking at how schools are run today, cuts in govt budgets & the discrepancies in policies, ‘industry’ sadly still suits it better

The word ‘industry‘ conjures up certain images in my mind. Workers churning out products to be sold to the masses, low paid workers and high paid owners, profit over working conditions and a top-down hierarchical structure. The connotation is a negative one and if you look carefully on the Macmillan dictionary website, one of the definitions states;

 an activity or business that has become very successful, especially one that you think makes an unfair profit or is not necessary (

While the ELT profession is necessary, the point of this post is not to call for a dismantling of the ‘industry‘ and the toppling of big name publishers in order to distribute the wealth. What I would simply advise is this; stop using the word ‘industry’ among ourselves. Stop using it in conversations, conferences, blog posts and books. Instead, replace it with the word, profession. Look at yourselves as professionals and as individuals who serve yourself and your students. If we want to be taken seriously, to be given the respect we deserve and be a part of more than just another ‘industry’, we must change how we are viewed. A change of mindset and vocabulary can do wonderful things.

a job that you need special skills and qualifications to do, especially one with high social status

 Definition of ‘Profession‘ taken from