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Which teaching certificate?

October 05, 2006

The choice of teaching qualifications can be bewildering.

Hello again,
One of the most frequent questions I am asked from prospective teachers and from school directors concerns the issue of teacher qualifications. What is the best qualification to have? Is there an internationally recognized certificate or diploma? The reality is...

... that no globally accredited teaching qualification exists. Furthermore, the requirements for obtaining qualified teacher status vary from country to country and, anyway, ESL qualifications tend to exist outside any QTS framework.

I have heard mutterings about the need for standardization of qualifications but I wonder if this is really either practicable or desirable. At the moment a small number of institutions have almost a monopoly over ESL teaching qualifications. Yet, in my view, what they offer is of limited value. I really do not think a typical four-week course alone can adequately prepare a teacher to understand the complexities of English, to master classroom management , syllabus and lesson planning, and to understand the psychology of learning. In addition, these courses derive from western culture and beliefs about education and do not properly address the cultural complexities that teacher will face in other parts of the world. However, it is still true that some training is better than none.

So how does a school decide on the qualifications profile it requires for its teachers? Just because no standard qualification exists, does not mean you have to accept unqualified staff. But you do need to think about what sort of qualifications profile suits your purposes.

First I would say a school needs to look for the overall level of education the teacher has gained. A degree from a reputable university seems to me an essential basis to ensure that the teacher has a disciplined and trained approach to learning. Secondly, I believe that the teacher should show evidence of subject knowledge. This might come form the degree or a postgraduate qualification of some kind. It is a myth that any native speaker can teach English. Being a native speaker is no guarantee that a person knows anything about the structure of English. Thirdly, I think the teacher needs some training in pedagogy. This could be a general teacher training course rather than one concerned specifically with English, but ensure that your teachers have been trained to work with your types of students: children, adolescents, adults.

If you concentrate on these three elements, you should ensure that your teachers are up to the job. To rely on the evidence of a four-week course alone is to take a great risk.

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  1. Carroll Says:

    I am currently enrolled in a TESL program at Western Kentucky University. I currently hold a Standard Kentucky teaching certificate for grades 1-8. To obtain an official TESL endorsement I must take 5 classes (15 credit) in prescribed areas Linguistic Analysis, Sociolinguistics and Psycholinguistics, Integrated TESL,Teaching and Testing ESL Grammar,and TESL Field Experience
    Observation and teaching English as a Second Language under professional supervision. This consists of thirty (30) clock hours or more of ESL teaching. I must also have 6 semester hours in a modern foreign language and pass the state Praxis exam. Are these requirements greater than or less than those of other areas? This will allow me to teach ESL in the public schools of Kentucky. Hopefully there is some reciprocity with other institutions.

  1. Theresa Says:

    I am a U S Resident and 41 years old. I am currently a Commercial Property Manager I have been working with properties for about 20 years. I am thinking about the near future at this time. I love children and mine is grown. I always wanted to be a teacher but never pursued a teaching career. I have some college but did not make good grades at the time I was raising a daughter and did not have the time to absorb myself in my own studies. I LOVE Costa Rica, I would like to move there and teach the english language. I am currently studying spanish at home with a pretty good spanish program. I am writing to find out how I would go about pursuing a teaching career partime teaching children with no current qualifications? do you have any suggesstions for me without having to go back to school full-time?

  1. Brenda Townsend Hall Says:

    You do not need to undertake a full-time course to do training for English language teaching. I don't know what opportunities your area has, but courses are certainly done as evening classes, part-time study and distance learning.

    I suggest you first look at what adult education opportunities there are near you and if that does not yield results try an online distance learning course to get started.

    Good luck!

  1. nesreen Says:

    hi i used to be an english teacher back home and I have one year degree in education and I would like to continue my studies in Esl and to get a master degree in that field but the problem is that I cant afford to pay for the master degree so can i get your advice howto study and work at the same field

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