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ESL References & Testimonials

November 15, 2005

I was asked to write a reference recently for a teacher I hadn’t seen for some years.

Hello again.

I wondered why this person hadn’t chosen a referee with more recent experience of his work but I tried to write something that would be useful to an employer. It set me thinking though.

If a candidate produces glowing testimonials you can’t help wondering whether the same writer would be quite so enthusiastic in a confidential report. You might even doubt its authenticity. I once met an ex-colleague at a conference and he expressed his surprise at the glowing testimonial I’d given a teacher who turned out to be a complete turkey. The point is that I had never given her a testimonial. She had helped herself to a letterhead and made one up in my name. The new employer had taken it at face value and hadn’t bothered to check with me. So, perhaps testimonials are not much use.

But references too can be misleading. They can be biased and unfair if the teacher did not have a good personal relationship with the bosses. I suggest that when you take up references you should ask for at least two so that you get a fuller picture. Also, if you write a reference request, state what you want to know. You could ask in your letter for a brief report on the candidate’s professionalism, preparation, absenteeism, punctuality, classroom success in terms of exam results: whatever is important to you.

Better still telephone and speak to somebody personally. If there is something unpleasant to report, a former employer may not wish to put it in writing but will feel easier about dropping a hint orally. I was once approached about a teacher whose performance was usually excellent but occasionally spoilt because of an intermittent drink problem. I was far happier to discuss this diplomatically orally than writing something that would form a permanent record.

Back soon.

Patricia.

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» ESL Vitas, Reference Letters and You! from ESL Lesson Plan
Vitas. There's a fundamental difference between the "curriculum vitae" and your everyday, run of the mill résumé, and, as an internationally savvy ESL instructor, you should know the difference. Also, ESL employers almost always want to see . . . . [Read More]

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» References and testimonials from ESL School
Reference letter writing. I was asked to write a reference recently for a teacher I hadn’t seen for some years. I wondered why he hadn’t chosen a referee with more recent experience of his work but I tried to write something that . . . [Read More]

Tracked on December 19, 2005 12:12 AM

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