George Chilton talks a little more about what SLB is developing, and why he decided to join Irene Almazán, Alan Ritchie and Neil McMillan in co-founding this services sharing cooperative.
- Training, workshops, and professional development for teachers and translators
I think one of the most exciting things for me was the opportunity to foster our professional development and training opportunities. We are all of the mind that the key to offering a good service to clients is to have cooperative members who are not only experienced, but also interested in improving their professional skills, and generally getting better at what they do. For this reason, we set up a Training and Professional Development department in order to be able to offer guides webinars, workshops, and face-to-face training to all our members.
At the moment we’re offering at least one face-to-face training session per month to SLB members – but we’re also taking requests, and sharing our knowledge and resources with each other all the time.
Neil’s upcoming workshop on Teaching Lexically on the 29th of November, is our first public training session – and we plan to have many more in the future! At the time of writing there are still a few places left in this session – so hurry while stocks last 😉
Contact us here: firstname.lastname@example.org
- The SLB Library
For teachers, our materials bank – the SLB Library — is steadily growing as members contribute their resources, lesson plans, and course designs. This is brilliant for me, as I get the chance to try out new things with my students, and also contribute my own ideas.
We make sure these materials are profread and edited, and also that they are original and break no copyright or creative commons’ laws. Having original materials will allow us to move forward into publishing these courses in the future, with the aim of making some money for the original authors.**
We also develop bespoke courses for each of our clients, and share them in the SLB library. Although every course is designed with a particular client in mind, we’re able to adapt these to our students’ needs and have several different versions of each course.
**Proofread. High-five if you noticed that.
- Who or what is the SLB CAT?
The translators at SLB know! Our use of Computer-Aided Translation (our CAT) has been very helpful to our translators so far. This means we add to and use a shared translation database at SLB (it does NOT mean that we use Google Translate!).
Every time a translator inputs work, the system records how we have translated individual phrases – and when we come to translate this again, the system shows us how we previously translated it.This allows our translations to remain consistent – which is ideal for business and technical translations, and it speeds things up for everyone too.
I found this particularly useful when translating our website from English to Spanish, and I hope to continue to use it as I have more translation work.
And before you ask – no, no confidential client information is included in this database.
- Let the CEO starve! Fair pay and profit sharing
I’m sure we talk about this enough, but we are able to offer our members a much higher rate of pay than language academies in Barcelona, because we cut out the middle-man.
We are a group of teachers working for ourselves and for each other. A portion of all revenues goes towards training and professional development, a portion towards expenses and tax, and a portion to the cooperative organisation, but the lion’s share goes to the teacher or translator.
On top of this, being shareholders, our members are highly motivated to give our clients the best possible service . And of course, the other great thing about excluding the company director is that we’re able to offer our clients a very competitive rate too. After everything is accounted for, we distribute the profits among the members – if this is what they have voted for.
You can read more about my views on this here: //blog.slb.coop/2014/06/15/equal_rights_fair_pay_tefl_workers/
- Organisational structure
We wanted to be different from the typical Barcelona language academy. We felt that by forming a cooperative, we would offer a distinct organisational structure for our members, and a higher level of quality of service for our clients. By not having a typical top-down approach, we have both advantages and disadvantages. No-one is in charge, however, it’s not at all chaotic!
Although there is no boss – there is an Executive Council. This council helps to steer the direction of the cooperative by offering motions to then be voted on by the General Assembly. But of course, any member of the cooperative can present a proposal or idea to be voted on. It is then the council’s responsibility to ensure that action is taken and the cooperative’s needs are met in a timely manner.
Clearly, the disadvantage here is that sometimes key decisions take longer – but this does mean that each decision and each outcome benefits the whole rather than the individual. As an added advantage over the traditional business model, we are also able to debate ideas, allowing us to find the best possible solutions and the best possible ideas.
You can find out more about how we’re organised in Neil’s detailed presentation //blog.slb.coop/2014/08/15/slb-information-session-now-really-public/
Anyway, that’ll do for now. Give us a shout if you have any questions – or any of this sounds interesting to you. Thanks for reading!