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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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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9494
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:12 am    Post subject: Local Teachers of English Language in State Schools Reply with quote

In response to a recent post wondering why German public schools aren't 'begging' for native English speaking English language teachers, I thought it might be interesting to compare how effective local teachers are in different regions.

From my experience, in Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, local teachers in public schools do a pretty decent job overall of teaching the English language, with most students able to communicate at at least B1+/B2 level upon graduation from high school equivalent.
This is also apparently true in Scandinavian countries; there is very little demand there for native English speaking teachers at any level.

How do the local teachers of English in your region rank on an effectiveness scale?


Last edited by spiral78 on Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:33 am; edited 1 time in total
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 9561
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Moscow, they range, of course. Just like the foreign teachers. But given that they stay in the education sector longer, undergo more training, both local and international, and do not display some typical failings of foreign teachers ( dishevelled appearance, hangover, gamey eye for the girls, zero explicit knowledge of English grammar etc. ) I'd say that on average they do as good a job if not better than the average foreign teacher. In fact, nearly all my most respected colleagues here are local teachers.

Last edited by Sashadroogie on Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:22 am; edited 1 time in total
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm glad somebody finally asked this. It has been the bane and blessing of my existence and will be for many years to come.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9494
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

johnt, care to elaborate? It sounds like you've experienced both extremes; I'd be curious where.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1216

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
From my experience, in Germany, the Netherlands, and the Czech Republic, local teachers in public schools do a pretty decent job overall of teaching the English language, with most students able to communicate at at least B1+/B2 level upon graduation from high school equivalent.


I'd agree with this for Italian schools, but with the proviso that it depends quite a bit on the type of high school. At the "liceo" schools (scientific, classical, language etc) I'd agree. Most of the students will have achieved at least a B1 level, with a good percentage at B2, and much smaller proportion even a C1 level.

At the other end of the scale - say the "Professional" schools (= vocational), you'd be lucky to get A2 level, with the very occasional B1 level. In the most recent teaching experience I had in one of these schools (preparing students for PET), their regular English teacher got the kids to read (Italian) newspapers in their lessons just to keep them quiet. These are classes of max 15 kids. Fortunately, he's a rarity. Unfortunately, once ensconced, crappy teachers are very hard to dismiss.

But what I see happening overall is a much greater emphasis on the importance of learning English. You get this at middle school level, with kids being prepared for KET, giving them a stronger basis for when they start high school. English is creeping in everywhere in Italian public life, with even the news programmes including a sprinkling of English words. Yesterday's had "optional", "countdown" and "gag".

There also seems to be a greater appetite for learning English from the kids themselves. The UK (and US) are seen to be the places to go for a decent job and London is considered a cool destination. Plus all the internet stuff, easy music downloads etc etc, and you've got much higher motivations for learning English.
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johntpartee



Joined: 02 Mar 2010
Posts: 3233

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 10:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
johnt, care to elaborate? It sounds like you've experienced both extremes; I'd be curious where.


Both extremes are China. First year university English majors must have six years of "formal" schooling in English. Most of them have been taught by local teachers. When I hear them speak, I never cease to be astounded at the errors in syntax, pronunciation, verb tenses, gender pronouns, etc. I consider myself a remedial English teacher, trying to undo the damage. Some of them have learned by rote, which means they can't say anything unless they've memorized it or are reading it. Bane and blessing of my existence because I find myself having to do the same thing every term and every few years I have to get out of China and go somewhere else and brush up on my real teaching skills.
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Kofola



Joined: 20 Feb 2009
Posts: 148
Location: Slovakia

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here in Slovakia I'd say they do a pretty good job on average. However, it's still patchy. The main problem being that the school system is in crisis. The native speaker teachers I know locally are all professionally trained teachers (e.g. QTS). They are few and far between though and they all teach at bilingual schools. I suspect that if you were to statistically compare them the Slovaks would come out worse just because there are so many of them and they work across the entire system. I've never met a native speaker primary teacher working in the state sector for instance.

I'd be interested to hear whether Spiral has any contact with schools in CR and knows how much the system has been reformed and whether things have really changed? As it happens last week and this I've been doing some one off stuff at a local secondary, which has been a bit of an eye-opener. I think I'd been beguiled by the really excellent work that is going on at some education faculties and the passion for change I witnessed at a recent academic gathering. On the ground though I just felt that the kids are being failed. Not because of the teachers per se, the ones I met were dedicated and doing a good job as far as I good see, but the system itself is a disaster. And they have no choice but to work within the system. I suspect the quality is much better at the secondary level. This week it was reported that 50% of state school English teachers are unqualified and my guess is that this is at the primary level in particular, because under communism they didn't need to have a degree to teach and they've been very slow in changing this.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 9494
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think that a decade ago, the teachers in the CR at the gymnasium level were considerably weaker than they are now, in general. I have been told that they were really very often just a couple of pages ahead of the students in the book. Now, they can generally speak quite well themselves, I think, and their grounding in mechanics is seems to be pretty strong.

I have a couple of Czech friends who work in the education system here, but overall my perspective on this is mostly based on the university students I work with, though, not on any kind of broader inquiry or actual study.

In 'my' small CR town, the gymnasium students mostly can speak at B1+ or better by their final year, and their English language exams are quite extensive and challenging (I've helped a couple of students to prepare for these). This is why I would call the system here 'pretty good,' though I think the German and Dutch systems are stronger still.

I'd concur with what Teacher in Rome has said about the vocational schools as being fairly accurate for the CR as well; they're weaker across the board in most subjects, probably to be expected given the strong hands-on focus.


Last edited by spiral78 on Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Shroob



Joined: 02 Aug 2010
Posts: 1339

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've met both good and bad local teachers. I'll admit that in some areas (grammar), the locals are much more clued-up than I. Though whether they can pass on their knowledge is another matter.

When the students reach me (I teach at a university), they should have been 'learning' English for 10 years. The range of ability is astounding. With some I can have a normal conversation about nearly any topic, with others I struggle to know what they did at the weekend. The same with their pronunciation, a real range in ability.

I also hear, 'but our Chinese teacher told us [completely wrong word/idiom/pronunciation]' fairly often. I sometimes peek into their classroom and see what's written on the board. Quite often there are errors, I'd never tell them while they are teaching (serious loss of face for those that are aware of this in China) but I try and have a word with them afterwards. I should say that what's on the board isn't error correction, it's a genuine error the teacher has made.

The Chinese method is firmly based around rote learning. Read and repeat. Read and repeat. I once had a private student request that all they do is listen to me read a line from a book, then they would repeat what I said. For one hour. It's their money...

I shouldn't complain too much...I'd be out of a job otherwise!
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Glenski



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

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 12:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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.

Here in Japan, that is beginning to get the public's attention, but hard to say how far that will go.
http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20121203p2a00m0na015000c.html
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santi84



Joined: 14 Mar 2008
Posts: 854
Location: under da sea

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

French Canadian ESL teachers are excellent in general but learning English from a young age is considered a necessity here and many of them have lived outside the province for a certain period of time.
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Qaaolchoura



Joined: 10 Oct 2008
Posts: 539
Location: 21 miles from the Syrian border

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 6:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not sure how to vote. My Turkish co-teachers generally range from good to excellent. There was one who despite being a popular and fairly effective teacher, would occasionally give students misinformation about grammar rather than admit she didn't know the answer, but she quit. The rest are very willing to admit when they don't know something, as well as being pretty good teachers and extremely helpful co-workers.

But based on what I've seen and heard, the Turkish teachers of English in public schools are at least as bad as Turkish public schools as a whole.

~Q
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smithrn1983



Joined: 23 Jul 2010
Posts: 320
Location: Moscow

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can't agree with Sasha about Russia's local teachers, at least not the ones who are found in K-12 schools here. I think you'd be lucky to find many graduates, even in Moscow, who could speak English at even a B1 level having only studied English in the local school system.

The problem, it seems, is how they are taught English in schools. The teachers have a great deal of knowledge about English grammar, and can indeed explain even the most obscure of grammar points extremely well, in Russian, of course. And this is how they teach the language, by explaining all of the grammar in Russian. The students also read texts (often quite complex ones), and translate them into Russian in order to learn vocabulary. The prevailing wisdom here is that if one simply learns all the grammar and vocabulary, then one is able to speak the language. The problem is that the students are never required to produce the language. Speaking and writing English is not part of the curriculum. All of the focus is on reading, translating and learning the grammar.

The teachers can speak English, but most of the ones I have met have always spoken it in a rather stilted manner. It always feels too mechanical to me, as if they think that the meaning of each sentence is equal to the sum of the words produced, which is not the case, and this can occasionally cause problems when teaching new lexical items. I cannot tell you how many times I have been trying to teach a lexical 'chunk' when a student stops me explaining the meaning of a phrase to ask what the individual words mean, completely missing the point that the meaning of the phrase has little or nothing to do with the words themselves.
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artemisia



Joined: 04 Nov 2008
Posts: 867
Location: the world

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I remember several years ago hearing about the way English language was developing in high schools in Germany, which has a three tier school system. I can’t remember who I talked to – maybe some young Germans. Whoever it was described the way local teachers in the senior years were conducting their classes. I think it would have been in the top tier of the system: Gymnasium. Classes were highly communicative and teachers used all kinds of methods familiar to Teflers. It made me gulp and wonder how long it would be before adult language training became a thing of the past.

Meeting young adults (straight out of school) from various countries (Cyprus, Portugal and Norway) also made me wonder the same. They’d switch into English with the greatest of ease, and the way they spoke! It was very far from grasping for words. I remember hearing them joke about having to wait for something and saying things like “You get in line, kid!” (to potential queue jumpers). Maybe this is not the norm, but it was an eye opener at the time. The above posts make me think this level of teaching at the school level is not at all usual in many, if not most, non English speaking countries.
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fluffyhamster



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

PostPosted: Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Japanese school teachers of English that I've met have ranged from impressively fluent to appallingly incapable, and worryingly these extremes have sometimes been within the same school (implying something is seriously amiss with the qualifying procedures for [not] measuring practical linguistic ability). In China, I team taught in a conversation school, where the generally young and "unqualified" Chinese English teachers were on the whole pretty capable and fluent. (One thing to be said for the private sector then - that that in ELT has to deliver what the paying customer expects if not demands). As for the school students in Japan, only a minority are more than minimally interested, with the motivated and halfway-capable a real rarity (probably well under just a few percent). 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?)...I just wish they would (or should that be could?) be more receptive to the opportunities offered by the funding of native speakers to be in schools (e.g. via the JET Programme, dispatch agencies etc). 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.
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