Title Teacher Training
Name InterKrest Inc.
E-Mail admin@interkrest.com
Teaching English is a craft that we all have to learn. We all know that you are not automatically a good English teacher just because you are a native speaker. Having a bachelor's or master's degree won't make you one either, unless one of these involved substantial, observed teaching practice, in which case you'd be off to a great start. Likewise those with a PGCE or equivalent teacher training.

There are also teachers who, although unqualified, have made it their business to read, experiment, learn from colleagues, observe peers, ask for feedback and develop from an ingrained sense of personal and professional pride. These are to be admired.

Ideally what English teachers need though is proper teacher training ― hard training in effective classroom techniques and methods. Why does this simple fact not register with so many employers in Korea and especially Korean Universities for whom a master's (in anything!) is often seen as the badge of competence? Don't people know that even most TESOL/MAs are completely theoretical without any practical teacher training? Also, why do so many foreign teachers in Korea not bother to get trained or train themselves in ESL/EFL teaching methods?

The obvious answer is they don't need it to get a job here and once appointed, there is little real quality control after the fact in all but a few select schools.

Every year, Korea is importing hundreds of foreigners to teach English. Graduates? Yes. Smart? Definitely. Good teachers? Often not. Why?

Most are unqualified and untrained and once they get comfortable and get a few years' experience behind them, they become like old dogs who refuse to learn new tricks. They rather complacently assume that what they are subjecting their students to on a daily basis is effective teaching.

They get away with it too, in a country with very uncritical audiences. In many cases, it is far from! They often say ``I have X years teaching experience" but in reality it is more like one year plus X years of repetition/stagnation.

So where can you get this teacher training from? Well, you won't get it from an online TESOL certificate that's for sure! Many other initial TESOL/TEFL certificates aren't worth the paper they are written on either, simply because success in these amounts to reading and writing assignments ― meat and drink to any smart graduate.

Sadly, the current fad in TESOL courses for Korean teachers is focused mostly on reading and writing assignments too.

The best teacher training courses available at the moment are the Cambridge DELTA or the Trinity Diploma. Some universities also offer a postgraduate diploma or MA in TESOL where you must undergo a lengthy and rigorous period of teacher training and observed teaching practice. As mentioned before, some schools are committed to teacher development with regular observations and have experienced and helpful senior staff.

They offer training of high quality as an ongoing and not just pre-service commitment. These are the best ways to get on the road to becoming a good teacher.

Unfortunately in Korea, we have the situation where untrained graduates arrive and end up in front of 30 or 40 unruly kids (in public schools) and don't know what they are doing. The stress levels must be enormous! If they are smart, they might choose a kids' hagwon where the class sizes will be much smaller and where the owners probably don't care what they do so long as there are no great complaints. In either of these two cases, unless they are really keen to learn and have the luxury of experienced and dedicated colleagues to guide them, they won't develop.

Then there are the university English instructors ― a separate breed who often think their MA and ``professor" status should speak for itself. In many cases though, what they are doing is not good teaching.

We must soon realize though, that EFL/ESL teaching is a different set of methods altogether. In this post, I want to encourage teachers out there to find out what they are and begin practicing them. Better still, when finances and opportunity permit ― go and get yourself properly trained!

Mike Long has been an EFL instructor/course director for 12 years. He works in Daegu.
By Mike Long

(Sourced by The Korea Times)
2009-07-30 05:44:29