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Distance Learning Courses

August 09, 2005

Hello again. several people have asked me if I think teachers with certificates obtained by distance learning are properly qualified.

Distance learning has received an enormous boost thanks to the interactive qualities of the Internet and the speed of response of email. For potential teachers living out of reach of traditional training, this means of study opens up previously unavailable oportunities. In fact you can obtain a whole range of qualifications from short-course certificates to fully-fledged masters degrees in this way.

So how should employers regard such certificates? I don't think there's a simple answer. Some certificates are just tasters, allowing teachers the chance to find out if ELT is really for them. Others cover the full training syllabus and some deal with special areas such as phonetics or business English. But the main issue for employers is whether any teaching practice is included. If not, then the employer would have to have a scheme in place to ensure the teacher is closley monitored in the first months.

Distance learning is certainly not an easy option. It requires self-discipline and motivation on the part of the trainee. So I think it is important to consider candidates on their merits. Check the nature of the course, the number of hours required to complete it, the qualificqtions of the tutors. If the candidate is right for the post in all other respects and has a suitable profile for the post, then it seems unfair not to give credit for their determination and hard work. But what do you think?

Bye for now,

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  1. Ralph Lyda Says:

    If I were an employer, I would not want to hire a person who was so-called-qualified by distance-learning.

  1. Carol Says:

    I'm glad that you brought this issue up, Patricia, because I've been thinking about pursuing a masters degree in this field for a while now and have started to consider enrolling in a distance course. However, my gut feeling is that it would not be viewed as a "real" degree, in much the same way as TEFL is rarely viewed as a "real" profession.

    The fact of the matter is that you will get out of it what you put in to it and that there will inevitably be people in this world who will not think very highly of you (for doing a distance course or for pursuing a career in this field).

    I've been teaching in China for over 7 years and have become genuinely interested in the cause. I may have fallen into ELT, but that doesn't mean that I'm falling into the pits of laziness and boredom.

    Yes, there are some people who simply stand in front of a classroom and babble on about themselves until the class is up just so they can afford an apartment and nights out in a strange city. But there are also people who try to develop as a teacher- and I believe I'm one of them.

    It's quite frustrating to try to get into education from the backdoor. There are a lot of hoops to jump through and for those of us who are teaching abroad, distance learning is the only option.

    That said, I think I'll be moving to England in order to pursue a masters degree there...

    So, to make a long story short, while I'm dying to get some more training, I can't invest time and money into a degree that won't be recognized by others.

    What do you the rest of you think about this?

    And furthermore, I'm curious to hear stories about people who have gone on to get masters degrees in the field- distance or on-site- and have found careers in an English-speaking country that they enjoy. Is it possible?

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