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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: 9299
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: 8928
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: 12085
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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: 9299
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: 861

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: 9299
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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: 8928
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.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 861

PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sasha, I agree, and that was pretty much my point. I think that being able to follow instructions is probably the single most important part of the course, and yet not everyone did. However, in my limited experience it wasn't only those that had past teaching experience that struggled with it.

Coinsidering the kind of jobs people usually go into straight from a CELTA, most employers aren't going to be looking for independent thinkers. They want someone who will follow instructions and get the job done in the way the school wants it done, not a wild card who's going to teach freestyle. The CELTA will help to weed out people who argue over every request, quibble over every detail, or simply ignore instructions because they want to do things 'their way'. It also weeds out the ones who are incapable of standing up in front of a class and speaking coherently, at least it attempts to. I'd imagine that employers appreciate both aspects.

400 posts, thanks Spiral, that crept up on me Shocked


Last edited by HLJHLJ on Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:28 pm; edited 1 time in total
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 4:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have worked with teachers who have come into this from a BA in education with teaching certification in Foriegn Language and ESL. And they are fine teachers--but they do go about a lot of things in a very non-CELTA type way so I do think that their previous knowledge experience would hinder them on the course. But that they should find that it helps them in the classroom.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 26, 2012 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would say the experience of previous teaching helps. The experienced teacher doesn't suffer from the newbies' pressure cooker of stage fright and hours spent worrying about the nuts and bolts of lesson planning. At the same time, I accept the point that there is the danger of ignoring the difference between teaching their old subject and language teaching/CELTA methods.
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Xie Lin



Joined: 21 Oct 2011
Posts: 305

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have to agree with the two posters who suggest that the more important variable is the individual's degree of rigidity/flexibility. During my experience as a teacher trainer, trainees with teaching experience (of either kind) do not fall neatly into either the 'hinder' or the 'help' category. Rather they split somewhat equally as determined by the rigidity of their personality. (Of course, this is also true of the inexperienced trainees.)

The more inflexible the experienced teacher, the less able they are to set aside their own pre-CELTA ideas of the best way to teach, the less able to take on board new information, methods, and ideas, and so the more their teaching background is a burden to them on the CELTA course. However, experienced teachers with less rigid personalities are able to benefit from the grounding in lesson planning, classroom management, lack of stage fright, etc., that they bring with them to the training course. Their classroom experience can allow them to feel less pressured and anxious than the raw neophyte, as coledavis suggests.

So I would say that some are hindered, some are helped. I will own up to a smidgen of bias against former teachers on a course--or perhaps "caution" would be a little more descriptive--until it becomes apparent to what degree they are able to set aside preconceived methodological ideas that will hamper their progress. This is because the worst of them can consume a huge amount of time and energy on the course resisting new ideas. They bring additional challenges for the trainers to manage effectively, when there is already more to do than time allows. Each of the outstandingly difficult trainees in my memory has been an experienced teacher.

But, in contrast, those experienced teachers who have a greater flexibility of thought bring more to the table than the average trainee, and can be a joy to have on the course.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't, to emphasize to the reluctant learners that this is only ONE method, BUT it is the one they need to learn for success on the course. Following the course they are expected to continue to learn, and to develop further skills and ideas. However, for this one month, and one month only, their success requires that they accept what is being presented as a viable and worthwhile approach. Nonetheless, the truly pigheaded will still dig in and resist. Of course, pigheadedness is a function of personality, not of previous teaching experience--or so I would like to think!

.
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Xie Lin

That was a very well-written and balanced post. We salute you!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyrG-ROkYqI


Sasha
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Nov 27, 2012 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Likewise Laughing Cool
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1828

PostPosted: Wed Nov 28, 2012 4:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes, an excellent contribution.
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