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Qualifications & Professionalism

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Joined: 05 Feb 2003
Posts: 17

PostPosted: Wed Feb 19, 2003 3:00 pm    Post subject: Qualifications & Professionalism Reply with quote

Ultimately, the only real qualification for any job is a sincere desire and an ability to do that job. For this, even the absolute no degreed beginner qualifies.

Using this as a starting point, however, an observant person should be able to determine that an infinite level of relative competence and mastery will reveal itself as the sincere seeker works at his trade. This is where the terms novice, beginner, adept, initiate, and master come from conceptually.

With this thought in mind, it can be seen through the performance of a teacher whether she has achieved a particular level of mastery. Anyone who values the trade in question -in this case English language teaching- would likewise offer greater compensation for the master than the novice, right? Well apparently wrong outside of the Unites States and even (to a lesser degree) within the United States and herein lies a challenging problem for ESL professional.

In Japan, for instance, it seems that a large number of employers are either unaware of or seek to avoid the distinction of a professional teacher vs. a professional tourist. The result is that the true professionals are lumped into the same category as the true beginners and the entire profession suffers from this gross undervaluing of its practitioners. This causes any product offered by those schools to be of low quality. Low quality courses result in low quality gains by students.

These are circumstances that can only be perpetuated by the ignorant and unaware. The owners of schools for example who behave in this way are obviously only motivated by short term profits that benifit only them and no one else (a malady rampant in our primitive societies as they are currently constructed on this planet). This view is based on the idea that to share more with the teachers by way of compensation, and the students by way of quality instruction, the owners would end up getting less. This is the view of a being who does not understand the most basic concept of abundance: When you give more, you get more in return. When you withold, you get less. This is a demonstrable fact of life in any area or any vocation. If these schools think they are doing great with the current system of selfish enterprise that they scheme now, then they will be amazed at the abundance they can create if they actual begin to learn how to share the abundance they already have. Not only will they benifit more than now, but all who are involved including teachers and students will benifit as well. The entire profession will be elavated.

But this post began as a statement regarding qualifications, so I shall continue in that vein. This controversy over degree or no degree, experience or no experience is generated primarily as a result of having an imperfect method of determining qualifications. To any observer, it should be noticed that the qualification for teaching English over seas is very low. In Japan it is appears to be a degree in any field and if Glenski's information is accurate, it is not really the schools that created such a standard, but the government of Japan. (Low standards for qualifications generally result in low compensation.)

This standard is rather arbitrary and ultimately has very little to do with anyone's actual ability to teach English. If you feel you have qualifications, yet lack a degree, however, complaining about it won't help you or anyone else. Why not create a better system of evaluating a teacher's competence and begin to share that system with others. Clearly this one is flawed. Or, simply get a degree. Do something constuctive with your energy. This is your life right now. Live it. Make a statement. Stop imagining that you are powerless and begin to exercise your power to transform what isn't working in your world into what works.

In regards to an actual degree related to teaching, certificates in ESL, and MA programs, however, even a modestly aware person should be able to see their value. Similarly, even the least observant person should be able to recognize the value of experience. But in order to truly understand the difference between what a degree offers and to compare that with what experience offers, one must be able to understand the difference between knowledge and wisdom.

Knowledge is information about something. Wisdom is knowledge applied.

Degrees, in general, provide the opportunity for knowledge. Experience, in general, provides the opportunity for wisdom. I say opportunity because it is really up to the person going through a degree program or getting experience to actually pay attention to what's happening and get that knowledge or wisdom. A great many people decide that they already know everything and so fail to gain anything from either experience or a degree. Some people teach for years in the same way and remain average. Some people teach for years with awareness and intention and become exceptional.

The best bet for anyone who is serious about being good at this is a combination of the two. This is because wisdom comes faster when there is more knowledge to apply to your teaching.

For those who want a job without a degree, however, I suspect the great majority are not people who feel they are otherwise qualified and thus being excluded by an injust system. No, I feel that in most cases these people are exactly what they appear to be -simply unqualified. If you are one of those people I think you should know this. By seeking employment for a job for which you are unqualified, you contribute to the lowering of the standards of that profession and hurt those who do what they do sincerely and not simply as a means to an end. You disrespect the vocation of language teaching and you disrespect yourself. If you really care about what you are doing, you will not wonder why you should have a degree, you will get one because it will help you to improve your abilities. If you really care about what you do, you will do whatever it takes to do it well and benefit yourself, those around you, and the profession that you practice in itself.

If you imagine that simply being a native speaker qualifies you to teach English, then you have revealed yourself as one who knows nothing about teaching.

If you are a person with or without experience, with or without a degree who feels that he or she has figured it all out, then you have stopped progressing and you might as well remove all experience from the point that you made that decision forward from your resume because it means nothing.
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Joined: 31 Jan 2003
Posts: 5
Location: USA

PostPosted: Sun Feb 23, 2003 8:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Allow me to begin by saying that I understand both sides of this coin. I started out in this field because I wanted to travel and at the time I did not realize the fallacy of using language teaching as a means to an end. I did get a certification first, but the true realization that I had no clue what I was doing came thrugh teaching experience. I think that I had many qualities that helped me to be an adequate (at best) language teacher despite my lack of education in the field. However, without the theoretical knowledge of language instruction these qualities served little purpose becuse I could not support the pedogagical side of what I was doing in class. Now that I am nearly finished with my MA in TESOL I view the issue from the opposite side. Perhaps I am a hiporcrite, but I get angy with people who think that speaking a language entitles you to teach it becuse unqualified people reduce the professionalism of the field. Now that I am looking for a job I realize just how much the unqualified people in the field affect the opportunities that may otherwise be possible for those of us who take what we do seriously. To anyone who believes that speaking a languae is adequate training for teaching that language, I encourage you to look at any professional journal about second language acquisition or second language teaching. Just as in the case of any other profession there is a systematic, internal structure to the field of teaching languages.
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Joined: 06 Feb 2003
Posts: 9
Location: London

PostPosted: Mon Feb 24, 2003 10:52 am    Post subject: Start at the top Reply with quote

The schools need to improve the way they treat teachers and they'll attract more qualified teachers.

Schools should that are jsut trying to scam everyone-teachers and students- should be pointed out and their failings frankly discussed.\
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 645

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 1:07 am    Post subject: Bad Schools ARE Pointed Out Reply with quote

Check out the Job Journal Section under specific countries(Korea,just for an example)Check out the Korea discussion section.I would say people already point out schools failings and which ones are real problems.The point is that a lot of "schools" are not schools at all,just ripoff scams.They should not be operating at all. But they are.

It is true that if schools treat teachers better,they might attract better teachers,instead of some of the "teachers" they now attract.I agree with you on that one...although it is not a complete answer.For another thing...there needs to be a standardized set of requirements for teaching in this field.Don't ask me how to do that,though.It is an extremely complcated question,but one that needs to be addressed if this profession is ever going to get rid of some of the so called "teachers" out there.
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Joined: 02 Feb 2003
Posts: 293

PostPosted: Tue Feb 25, 2003 4:17 am    Post subject: some good points Reply with quote

There are some good, valid points made here. In this regard, I think the only people who would argue that there is no or little difference between degree holders and non-degree holders is the latter party: the non-degree holders. Anyone who has been through the process knows that obtaining a degree is a tough, but valuable achievement.

As regards the status of schools and their treatment and requirements of teachers, EF English First is the worst. They employ - quite openly - 'teachers' with no degrees (even their global academic operations manager does not have a first degree), no TEFL certificate, and no experience. They even employ non-native speakers as DOSs (!) Truly astonishing! This is why they have made themselves the MacDonalds of TEFL - a large chain of fast language outlets.
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