The ABC of ELT

The Master of None English Teacher

One of the attributes I’ve looked for in job opportunities has been to not be lumped with only one type of student. Be that general english, adults, teens, in state school, business or whatever. It’s not that I dislike any of these groups of students its just that I really enjoy and value the variety in my day. I might start the day teaching a business English class, then move on to a group of young learners before ending with a general English class. All with different atmosphere, challenges and rewards. There is a price to pay for this approach though, becoming a master of none.

Specializes to go further

Several colleagues have advised me that I should look at specializing in a certain areas of English teaching. Be that young learners, business english, exams or some others niche group. Being a specialist opens up certain doors and it is much easier to become an expert in one area than in multiple areas. The trouble is, I want variety and I don’t want to neglect any of these other groups. So one month I might be researching how I can more effectively find authentic materials for my Business English groups, the next I’ll look into how reward systems affect groups of young learners.

Cross pollination

Sometimes this provides cross pollination between groups. Using the previously mentioned ideas, working on adapting authentic materials can be used for my Young learners and general English groups as well, and the motivation connected to reward systems can also be beneficial for getting business English students to do their homework. At the same time, it’s hard to really push forward in any one area.


Perhaps being the master of none isn’t the best approach, but I enjoy it and ultimately I am certain that the motivation I get from being a master of non is more important than short term career advancement.

Are you a specialist or a Master of non?

About Chris Wilson

I'm an English Language teacher based in Krakow, Poland. I enjoy writing, using technology and playing the Ukulele.

One Reply

  1. I love that variety too, and it has certainly helped me in my DoS role. While I probably prefer working with adults, I enjoy teaching across the levels, and working with 121 and more specialist students. I’ve learnt more about working with YL and teens since I came to Bydgoszcz, and understand more about classroom management, which was probably my main barrier to teaching them comfortably before. Keep up the range!

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