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Transferring Skills from Other Types of Teaching to EFL/ESL
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Does previous experience teaching another subject, or teaching EFL/ESL without quals, help or hinder one on a CELTA or similar course?
Hinder
28%
 28%  [ 4 ]
Somewhere in between
28%
 28%  [ 4 ]
Help
42%
 42%  [ 6 ]
Total Votes : 14

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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Nov 24, 2012 6:55 pm    Post subject: Transferring Skills from Other Types of Teaching to EFL/ESL Reply with quote

There's an interesting question on the Teacher Training Board just now, basically asking whether CELTA (and presumably other course) trainers are biased against experienced teachers.

There are two clear lines of thought here:
1. experienced in teaching other subjects, OR
2. experienced in teaching ESL/EFL without formal related qualifications

I'll argue that these two are fairly strongly connected, as most every teacher's default mode is (logically) to apply the methods/approaches one is familiar with from his/her own early educational experiences.
(This is according to some research; I'll post links later on if anyone disagrees with this, but I promise I didn't make it up out of my own personal experience or ideas).

So, a bias against experienced teachers may have some basis in truth in a general sense, though there will obviously be many exceptions.


My personal take on this, having worked for over a decade with both new EFL/ESL teachers and practicing teachers from other disciplines is that a bias against experienced teachers of both type 1 and 2 has some grounding in reality.

It can be really difficult for experienced teachers who have been taught, exposed to, and who have used the different approaches and methods applied to core subjects to shift over to the far more student-centred/active-student approaches and methods research finds are effective in language teaching/learning.

I've been fortunate to work in two institutions where active, student-centred learning is consciously and consistently applied across all faculties.
So, I'm not maintaining that the skill sets are by any means entirely different!

However, I think that it's still true at this time that 'experienced' teachers by definition are more likely to be 'experienced' in more traditional, and therefore more teacher-led, approaches and methods, AND that they are more likely to be resistant to changing what has worked for them in the past.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 8:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Let's not forget experience in unrelated fields, such as creative-writing, telemarketing, radio and TV, theatre, all of which could in theory help one to be a better EFL teacher, but rarely do. Bane of a CELTA trainer's life, usually.
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Glenski



Joined: 15 Jan 2003
Posts: 12844
Location: Hokkaido, JAPAN

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To lend further anecdotal support here, many is the time English teachers at my uni have had to struggle to point out to content teachers (science in our case) that we essentially teach lab situations for language leaning courses. It's not like the content teachers who merely have to stand and recite notes for 90 minutes and expect students to regurgitate answers on tests to show what they have learned.
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 15343

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Teaching a language is about teaching a skill. Some subject teachers cannot deal with that. If they themselves have achieved some competence in an FL then there may be hope for them. Learning any Foreign Language gives insight into how English can be learned as an FL.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm a bit confused. Apparently two posters think (according to the poll numbers) that teaching another subject or teaching EFL without qualifications is helpful.

But we haven't got any indication of how they think it might be beneficial...all comments here are negative, so far as I can tell.

Anyone on the side of 'yes, useful' care to explain why??
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 1218
Location: Ecuador

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I haven't voted because I think the answer is it depends on the person rather than their past experience. I did the CELTA with my husband, we both had experience teaching other subjects. I think it helped because we already knew the basic skills of teaching, i.e standing up in front of a class, lesson planning, etc. Not everyone who teaches content stands up in front of a class and lectures for 90 minutes. Overall it was probably the easiest course I've ever taken.

In the entirely unrepresentative sample of the other people on my CELTA course, the ones who had problems were split between those with prior experience and those without. The common denominator was that they were the ones who wouldn't, or couldn't, do what they were told. Equally unscientifically I suspect that people who choose teaching as a profession (as opposed to those who fall into it by accident) are probably more like to err on the side of 'likes telling people what to do' than 'likes being told what to do.' That mind-set will cause a problem.

The CELTA is a very basic one-size-fits-all qualification. It spoon feeds you the basics of a very specific method and gives you a (relatively) controlled environment in which to have a go at it. Everyone gets the same, which is both its strength and its weakness. It's not flexible or adaptable. No-one cares if you know or like other methods. The trainers don't set the syllabus, and there's nothing they can do about it if you don't like it.

I suspect that anyone with prior experience in teaching or training will have their skeptical moments during a CELTA course. However, they can do just as well as anyone else by just doing what they are told. The criteria for passing are explicitly spelt out, all you have to do is follow them. That gets you the all-important piece of paper, and then you can take away with you anything else you found useful along the way, or ditch the lot if you prefer.

If people are looking for something more flexible that will fit in around their own experiences, something where their own input will be valued, then they should be looking at a professional qualification, PGCE, masters, etc.. The CELTA is never going to offer that.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11534
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Equally unscientifically I suspect that people who choose teaching as a profession (as opposed to those who fall into it by accident) are probably more like to err on the side of 'likes telling people what to do' than 'likes being told what to do.'


That's a nice, succinct way to put it!!

Agreed entirely that a CELTA is by no means representative of the full range of what can usefully go on inside a language-learning classroom; it's very basic, as you point out. But for the many, many would-be new EFL/ESL teachers, it's most often their first introduction to a more student-active classroom - though that may be slowly changing!

And, by the way, congrats on your 400th. post, HLJHLJ
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 11061
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Nov 25, 2012 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As basic as a Celta is, so many trainees cannot seem to follow basic instructions. The same mistakes repeated, and tediously defended, no matter what the trainers feed back to them. Various reasons for that, but chief amongst them is a serious lack of flexibility on the side of trainees with experience in other areas of teaching - the very quality that you say is missing from Celta itself.