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Local Teachers of English Language in State Schools
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How effective are local English language teachers in your region?
Excellent
0%
 0%  [ 0 ]
Pretty Good
30%
 30%  [ 6 ]
Just Fair
20%
 20%  [ 4 ]
Weak
35%
 35%  [ 7 ]
Total Waste of Time
15%
 15%  [ 3 ]
Total Votes : 20

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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9551
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spiral, I'm glad that you have performed this public act of contrition. It spares the Party having to force it upon you. Now, in future, please take into account my tendency to gloss over important information in the opening post when I am suffering from early morning withdrawal symptoms. Thank you!
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

kpjf wrote:
fluffyhamster wrote:
Still, at least the Japanese have funded such stuff, which is more than can be said for the UK (AFAIK), which seems a bit cheapskate even when it comes to funding proper language teachers.


In the UK The British Council (through partner organizations) does what seems to be more or less the same as Japan with JET http://www.britishcouncil.org/languageassistants-fla.htm

However, there is a huge difference between a country that needs its population to speak English and a native English speaking one that does not have this desire. Which language should the English speaking nations' governments focus on? French? Spanish? Mandarin? This is the problem especially in the UK. Of course in America you could say Spanish should be the language to focus on due to the evergrowing Hispanic population. But, my point is that the English speaking nations in general don't have this goal like the non-English speaking countries do.


Thanks for the link to the FLAP, kpjf. Do you know offhand how long this has been running, and roughly how many FLAs are hired each year for each language, and where they are generally placed? If not, I can have a Google around and see if such info is available (doesn't seem to be on the site itself).

One thing that leaps out straight away however is that for Mandarin, the FLA applicants must already be teaching English in a school in China i.e. be qualified teachers and effectively bilingual, which strongly suggests that they will be teaching on their own in UK classrooms rather than merely assisting a British language teacher to teach more popular ("easier") languages.

Imagine if that were the case in Japan - "If you would like to be an English assistant in Japan, you must currently be teaching Japanese in a school in the UK (or other native English-speaking country) in order to be eligible". It would take forever to fill the positions!

Japan has therefore gone for a perhaps understandable quick fix, while reserving the teaching positions proper for Japanese natives. The UK on the other hand is insisting on some minimum standards, aided by the greater ubiquity of English a foreign language and the obviously larger labour pool in China to recruit from. I can't help but feel though that the situation is somewhat sidelining British people who might like to teach Mandarin (or similarly "exotic" languages), but perhaps it is for the best if qualified native speakers rather than qualified non-native speakers get first dibs or look-in? (But again, it is hard to imagine the reverse being true in a place like Japan, even for less in-demand languages than English).


kpjf wrote:
fluffyhamster wrote:
Overall though I'd say that local teachers do a reasonable job of introducing their students to English (and how many of us native English speakers here on Dave's would be able and/or willing enough to teach a foreign language?)...


That's a good point, but I'd imagine most of those people stay in their own countries to teach in secondary schools and don't come on here, don't you think? What kind of demand is there in Asia for example for non-native, but qualified French or Spanish teachers?

I'm thinking of doing a degree or equivalent in Mandarin (I have a postgrad diploma, plus a few years living and working in China), and then teaching in schools in the UK. It would be easier though to just do a PGCE ESOL or whatever. Transferring QTS to Asia (outside of international schools I mean) would be another hurdle (and probably one too high in most cases).


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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scot47



Joined: 10 Jan 2003
Posts: 12303
Location: Ultima Thule

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Contrarian ? Who, me ? I OBJECT ! I am a REMONSTRANT !
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12696
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear scot47,

Oh - I thought you were Protestant.

Regards,
John
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Far too many variables!!


I must be very shallow, I thought I understood exactly what you meant, I didn't think it was ambiguous at all. Indigenous foreign English teachers for whom English is not their first language. Do they do a good job. Pick "yes" or "no" or "sorta yes" or "sorta no". Is that right?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9486
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, johnt. I recall being satisfied with it at the onset, before the crystal clarity of it all got cracked and dented through indiscriminate handling Very Happy
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"If you can't dazzle 'em with brilliance, baffle 'em with b---s---."
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Thanks for the link to the FLAP, kpjf. Do you know offhand how long this has been running, and roughly how many FLAs are hired each year for each language


I cannot be sure, but know it's not a recent thing for European languages such as French and Spanish (decades I'm sure); for Mandarin, I'd say a few years possibly. However, I have no proof or sources to back this up.


By the way, for people from the UK wanting to become a language assistant they need a B1 level to apply to go to France, Spain, Italy etc.


Quote:
Imagine if that were the case in Japan - "If you would like to be an English assistant in Japan, you must currently be teaching Japanese in a school in the UK (or other native English-speaking country) in order to be eligible". It would take forever to fill the positions!


You're totally right about that. I guess it's because China is such a big country so they can afford to be choosy and surely many Chinese people would jump at the chance to work in the UK as a Mandarin teacher.


Quote:
and where they are generally placed? If not, I can have a Google around and see if such info is available (doesn't seem to be on the site itself).


Where as in location or school??? If the former it'll be either England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland; if the latter, in UK secondary schools I'd imagine or maybe institutes.

One thing that surprises me about the BC language assistant programme is the salaries. For instance for Switzerland it's SF2,600 net for only 12 hours a week, yet in France it's only about 700 net for the same hours. Is Switzerland really 3 times more expensive than France? Then in China the salary is only 3,000 RMB and 4,500 RMB net for 20 hours a week. Correct me if i'm wrong but is that salary not quite low?


Quote:
I can't help but feel though that the situation is somewhat sidelining British people who might like to teach Mandarin (or similarly "exotic" languages), but perhaps it is for the best if qualified native speakers rather than qualified non-native speakers get first dibs or look-in? (But again, it is hard to imagine the reverse being true in a place like Japan, even for less in-demand languages than English).


You're right, and even though the amount of fluent Mandarin native English speakers in the UK would be very low if you're teaching A1 level you wouldn't really need to be totally fluent.

Quote:
I'm thinking of doing a degree or equivalent in Mandarin (I have a postgrad diploma, plus a few years living and working in China), and then teaching in schools in the UK. It would be easier though to just do a PGCE ESOL or whatever. Transferring QTS to Asia (outside of international schools I mean) would be another hurdle (and probably one too far in many cases).


I don't understand exactly. You want to do a degree in Mandarin then become a teacher in the UK teaching this language? Would you not need a PGCE to be eligible? I was looking to do a PGCE in the UK but the options for the subjects to teach are very limited in order to become qualified. For example I was going to do Spanish as I have a C2 level, but then in my city it said I'd need to offer Spanish AND another language.
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
spiral78 wrote:
I really wanted to get at the level of what's provided for local kids in local schools.

Of course there is a range, but in a region, I think it is possible to say that 'most' students are/aren't reasonably proficient when they finish with public/state education.
I hope you took my answer into consideration, that it may not necessarily have anything to do with the teaching ability of the teachers at all.


I agree in some ways. Some French teenagers just have absolutely no desire to speak English and I don't think their poor level of English is the teacher's fault. Some French people are quite jealous that English is such a widespread language and wish French was as popular so they wouldn't have to learn a foreign language.

Take where I currently live for example. I live with 7 other people, all under 30 except one; yet, not one of them speaks English and I mean not even a basic A1 level! All they know is maybe a couple of random words. This situation would be impossible to find in Norway. I find that incredible in a developed country, especially given the importance of English.

So, like Glenski says it's not always due to the teaching ability of the teachers. However, in France people do say it's due to the way English is taught, but I think in part that's just an excuse.

I posted this http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=99457 in the current events forum which shows that 4 out of the top 5 education systems in the world are Asian. France doesn't even reach the top 20. How can this be with the history and status of this country? With all respect to Russia, Poland and Slovakia their education systems are better than France and Spain (according to the study). Why is this?
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9486
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My colleagues in French, Spanish (and Italian) universities complain that the education system is old-fashioned and overly reliant on outdated methods and approaches. My colleagues are a mix of UK and French, Spanish, and Italian, by the way - I don't want to imply that a bunch of colonialists are being critical here.

With the French, it's also likely related to the fact that French WAS the language of the educated world not so long ago!! Bring back the good ol days, indeed Very Happy
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 3:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@kpjf: When I asked where Mandarin FLAs were placed, I meant which regions, and type of sublocation (city versus more rural?).

Yes, 3~4,500 RMB would be a bit low IMHO. I mean, I was on 8,000 RMB way back in 1996-7 with EF!

Sorry, I meant do a degree in Chinese then a PGCE in MFL. It sucks that they would make you have to offer a language in addition to Spanish (which is surely a more popular subject than Mandarin!), and from what I understand there's no guarantee that that additional language would remain just a minor part of one's teaching schedule. There's a similar requirement with the Mandarin, but that's more understandable, as there may not be quite enough school students at any one time wanting to seriously study it to the point of sitting even the GCSE in it.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Glenski wrote:
It's very hard to generalize when you consider that you have teachers in kindergarten to university, as well as international schools. Also, the teaching system that is imposed upon them may preclude any good ability. That is, when they are told they MUST teach only to the test, and not include spoken communicative practice, they end up being pretty ineffective on what counts: communication.


Glenski wrote:
spiral78 wrote:
I really wanted to get at the level of what's provided for local kids in local schools.

Of course there is a range, but in a region, I think it is possible to say that 'most' students are/aren't reasonably proficient when they finish with public/state education.
I hope you took my answer into consideration, that it may not necessarily have anything to do with the teaching ability of the teachers at all.

But a sizeable proportion of JTEs like the system just the way it is, thank you very much. They like teaching to tests, and have little or no interest in real communication. Given a choice, the option to do things otherwise, they wouldn't actually take it.
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
@kpjf: When I asked where Mandarin FLAs were placed, I meant which regions, and type of sublocation (city versus more rural?).


Ah, right! I think if it's anything like the other way around (British Council language assistant positions in France, Germany and so forth) they'll be invariably placed in very small towns/villages. Maybe big cities if you're really really lucky (but of course some people prefer to live in small places).

Quote:
Yes, 3~4,500 RMB would be a bit low IMHO. I mean, I was on 8,000 RMB way back in 1996-7 with EF!


That's what I don't understand: the inconsistency. The Switzerland salary actually looks quite good for 12 hours a week, yet the Chinese one doesn't look good at all.

Quote:
Sorry, I meant do a degree in Chinese then a PGCE in MFL. It sucks that they would make you have to offer a language in addition to Spanish (which is surely a more popular subject than Mandarin!), and from what I understand there's no guarantee that that additional language would remain just a minor part of one's teaching schedule. There's a similar requirement with the Mandarin, but that's more understandable, as there may not be quite enough school students at any one time wanting to seriously study it to the point of sitting even the GCSE in it.


A GCSE in Mandarin in the UK. They'd have to lower their grading system would they not, or everyone would fail! Maybe i'm being harsh.

What MFLs would you do? In my city it was limited to French, Spanish, German and Irish. This really put me off a PGCE as my French and German are only about A2 and wouldn't want to teach them. Furthermore, is German really going to be in demand in schools?

By the way are you from the UK? If so, have you heard of School Direct?
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kpjf



Joined: 18 Jan 2012
Posts: 187

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

spiral78 wrote:
My colleagues in French, Spanish (and Italian) universities complain that the education system is old-fashioned and overly reliant on outdated methods and approaches. My colleagues are a mix of UK and French, Spanish, and Italian, by the way - I don't want to imply that a bunch of colonialists are being critical here.


Why don't they look at what the nordic countries are doing and copy them? Or does this sound too naive and simplistic?

Quote:
With the French, it's also likely related to the fact that French WAS the language of the educated world not so long ago!! Bring back the good ol days, indeed Very Happy


I think the French are bitter about this Smile
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9486
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Why don't they look at what the nordic countries are doing and copy them? Or does this sound too naive and simplistic?


Seems totally logical to me...and probably applies to more countries than the ones we've named....but politics, culture, and society don't always work so logically Shocked Cool Laughing
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