The English Teachers Association Switzerland (ETAS) is a non-profit organisation mainly run by unpaid volunteers. Its aims are to promote the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL), primarily in Switzerland.
ETAS was founded in 1983 by four teacher-trainers, Mimi Bryant, Heather Murray, Margaret Niethammer, and Silvia Dingwall. It grew rapidly, and now has around 1,000 members.
The ETAS organisation is designed to cover Switzerland as a whole. There are regional groups in all parts of Switzerland, and each language area has at least one regional group. The groups are led by Regional Coordinators (RCs). ETAS has a number of SIGs to cover more specialist areas such as drama, research, ESP, and young learners. There is also a National Committee which coordinates activities on a national level. All these bodies are supported by a paid part-time administrator at the ETAS office in Yverdon.
ETAS is a member of IATEFL and attends IATEFL Conferences regularly.
From the beginning, a primary focus has been on providing training for teachers of English. Regular workshops and other events are organised on a local level, and national events take place twice a year. Collaboration with English as a Foreign Language (EFL) publishers began early, and now ETAS events attract world-class speakers in the EFL field such as Penny Ur, Scott Thornbury, Michael Swan, and David Crystal.
Media and communications
ETAS has regularly produced publications, firstly in print and now through electronic media too. As well as information on the organisation itself, these publications contain practical and theoretical articles on teaching and language. Book reviews underscore the close relationship with publishing houses. The Journal, the major print publication, now appears three times a year. In 2000, ETAS launched its first website (www.e-tas.ch), which is now supplemented by a blog, a forum for discussion, twitter, facebook, and an electronic newsletter sent out to members eight or nine times a year. Email has replaced paper and to some extent even the telephone as the major means of communication within the organisation.
The ETAS library is another service offered to members. It contains around a thousand titles in the areas of teaching and linguistics.
Working conditions for English teachers
Although by no means a trade union for English teachers - from the early days, the association has taken great care not to be labelled as such - ETAS has also worked to improve working conditions for English teachers in Switzerland. A booklet explaining the legal situation for teachers of English in Switzerland was one of the early products, and pension and loss-of-earnings insurance is now offered too.
ETAS also supports educational work outside of Switzerland. Projects have been undertaken and supported in (among others) Roumania, India, and Zimbabwe (this project is also supported by the Federer Foundation).