Getting organized

January 28, 2010

Hello again,

Of course a DOS needs to be well organized, but often it seems as if juggling skills are needed. It is part of the job description that you have to handle ...

Planning your career

January 19, 2010

Hello again,

A reader asked recently for further advice on how to progress in an ELT career. He specifically requested information on additional qualifications. Others may disagree...

Beating unemployment

July 20, 2009

Hello again,

Back from holiday, I find the news is all rather gloomy. Unemployment figures in the UK have reached a new peak and the swine flu has everybody feeling a bit edgy. I can’t make any suggestions about flu but I think TEFL might help some groups worried about unemployment.

With the effects of recession...

This month's conferences

June 02, 2009

Hello again,

Have you taken a look at some of the conferences and workshops running this month?
I have noted a few in this post, but I am sure that with a little Internet research you will be able find something...

Planning your career in ELT

May 29, 2009

Hello again,

Is it just my perception or does ELT have a greater share of whingers than other professions? People are always telling me how they find ELT poorly paid, over-burdened, and with poor career prospects. Well, if that’s how you feel, do ...

Book of the Month

January 22, 2009

Hello again,

Many books about language concern the minutiae of linguistics. In one of my various roles I edit academic papers many of which are about linguistics. Often I am struck by the futility ...

Grundtvik Actions

December 04, 2008

Hello again,
Teachers wishing to broaden their training and cultural awareness can apply for a Grundtvik grant from the EU. Many teachers tell me that they feel the type of training available to them is limited...

Calendar of Events

November 18, 2008

Hello again,

Here are some dates for your diary.

Reverse culture shock

October 28, 2008

Hello again,

It’s been interesting talking to people recently who have returned to the UK after long spells of teaching abroad. Many of them have experienced quite bad reverse culture shock.

When you first arrive back...

September events

September 03, 2008

Hello again,

As schools in the northern hemisphere gear up for new academic year, this month offers a good range of conferences and seminars...

Communication skills for the D.O.S.

March 27, 2008

Hello again,
As I suggested in my last entry, the D.O.S. occupies a somewhat uncomfortable position, being sandwiched between the teachers and the senior management. I think this has implications for the communications skills...

What are the qualities needed to be a D.O.S?

March 23, 2008

Hello again,

The director of studies’ post is a coveted step up the career rung for many teachers, but is promotion to this role something every teacher can handle? It’s worth...

If you can’t get to the conference, the conference can come to you

March 07, 2008

Hello again,

I thought I would flag up a useful development in IATEFL’s Annual Conference. This year it is being held at the University of Exeter between 7th and 11th April and for those able to attend, it is not only the conference ...

Coming to terms with power distance

February 29, 2008

Hello again,

Western trained teachers often look east to seek teaching posts. This often means a move from a country whose culture has a low power distance ...

Professional effectiveness (part three)

February 27, 2008

Hello again,
I want just briefly to finish the topics under the heading of professional effectiveness. To stress my main point, professional effectiveness comes from within, from learning how to deal with the opportunities and...

Professional effectiveness (part two)

February 24, 2008

Hello again,

To continue the brief discussion of key points for professional effectiveness, I’ll start with motivating and influencing others. Clearly teachers need to be able to motivate learners and influence them to act on the advice we give. The atmosphere we create...

Professional effectiveness

February 20, 2008

Hello again,

When teachers are new to the profession, they rely heavily on what their training has told them about how to teach. But I think there is a big difference between putting into practice the techniques and skills you have developed ...

The year ahead

January 01, 2008

Hello again,

I don’t need a crystal ball to flag up a selection of key ELT events for the first half of 2008 as they have been ...

Teachers’ self-perceptions and what students see

October 28, 2007

Hello again,

I have you ever experienced the feeling that, while some students really react well to you, others seem to have a negative response? It may seem puzzling...

Confusion over qualifications

October 11, 2007

Hello again,

Every so often people seem confused about teaching qualifications and the means of acquiring them. I hope to provide some clarification in this post.

Firstly we must make a...

Finding your niche

September 20, 2007

Hello again,

I am often asked what means are available for teachers to make career progress. I think the best approach is to create your own...

Encouraging professional development

August 17, 2007

Hello again,

Individual schools often lack the financial means to support teachers in their efforts to develop their careers. However, scholarships...

Giving feedback to trainee teachers

July 17, 2007

Hello again,

This is the first of two entries about feedback. I am giving some suggestions first on how to give feedback successfully to trainee...

Qualifications matter

May 15, 2007

Hello again,
It only takes a mention of the belief that teachers should be formally qualified to bring out the anti-qualifications brigade. I am not convinced. I firmly believe teachers...

An objective look at volunteering

May 04, 2007

Hello again,

Teaching English as a volunteer has, on the surface, many advantages. You can help people in developing ...

Training for Internet teaching

April 30, 2007

Hello again,

I have written recently about the growing trend toward delivering courses over the Internet. The general feeling seems to be that this trend will grow, with both traditional schools offering an Internet component to courses and individual teachers working independently. As with all new ventures...

The myths about distance learning

April 02, 2007

Hello again,

Distance learning sounds like the ideal opportunity for teachers unable to access traditional courses to pursue further training and professional development. Yet it seems ...

Only a few days to register

March 26, 2007

Hello again,

IATEFL’s annual conference is a unique ELT event. The sheer scale of it is impressive but what really gives it character is the mix of seasoned ...

Transferable skills

November 16, 2006

Hello again,

Many English language teachers see their work as short-term. ELT is the ideal means of working your way as you experience new countries and explore different cultures. But what happens when you have satisfied your wanderlust and want to come home and carve out a career? It seems to me ...

How are business English teachers different?

November 05, 2006

Hello again,

As somebody who trains business English teachers, I am often asked about the skills needed to become a business Englih specialist. Business English teachers often have experience in fields other than teaching. However, although it is very useful to have experience of other domains, or of the commercial world, it is not essential. On the other hand, it is necessary to be interested in the world of business and to understand how companies are structured and to be familiar with business terminology. Regular reading...

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...

Go forth and qualify

May 18, 2006

I can't believe that there are people out there who still ask if they need to be qualified before they can teach English.

Hello again,

I feel the need for a minor rant about the issue of qualifications for English teachers. I have no patience at all with aspiring teachers who demand to know why they need a qualification to find a job. As far as I know, there is no other field of education in which people believe they should be employed without appropriate training. Let’s think for a moment about what is required of teachers. They need to understand how people learn: this involves being aware of how people are motivated, how they...

Mentoring new staff

April 11, 2006

How many schools make full use of their existing talent to nurture the new?

Hello again,
The newly appointed teacher has a steep learning curve: new colleagues, new students, new systems, new materials, perhaps even a new country. It’s a lot to deal with and the rookie teacher might feel inhibited about asking older hands for help and advice. By implementing a mentoring system the school could make a significant difference to the new teacher’s induction period, and the experienced teacher who becomes mentor will also be taking a useful step in professional development. Mentoring is used widely in universities ...

To Teach Business English?

March 16, 2006

Mid-career crisis? Have you got what it takes to teach English for business?

Hello again,

Teachers often ask me what direction they can take after a few years of teaching general English. To continue as an ordinary classroom teacher seems like stagnation so choices have to be made about how develop both professionally and personally. Specializing in English for business can be a fruitful move if the teacher is able to transfer existing skills to the business context.

Let me deal with the prospects first. Teaching business people is recognized as a specialist field and the teacher often has to be a program planner and materials developer as well, so salaries are generally higher. The training can take place in dedicated centers, often residential, in-company or as a special program offered at a . . .

Getting Private Student Feedback

February 28, 2006

Can teachers gather students' feedback without risking adverse reactions from management?

Hello again,

It is clear from reactions to an earlier posting by Patricia that teachers have their anxieties about feedback from students. They fear that any negative responses might be used against them by management. In an ideal world, the school would offer mutual support systems with all feedback being seen as a key tool in the process of continual improvement rather than as a stick to beat the overburdened backs of teachers. But we don’t live in a perfect world and undoubtedly some teachers will be put under pressure if students are critical . . .

Welcome Brenda to ESL School!

February 24, 2006

Greetings ESL experts,

Allow me to say thanks to Jake for his introduction of me and for giving me the honor or presenting to you the newest member of the ESLemployment team, Brenda Townsend Hall, PhD.

For those of you who might be unfamiliar with her work, Dr. Townsend Hall is a communications consultant trainer and course designer. Now, she’ll be blogging for ESL School and writing for the ESL Expert newsletter. She offers face-to-face and distance training in the fields of interpersonal communications, business English, written communications and cross-cultural awareness. She also has runs a distance-learning training course, Teach Business English, for teachers wishing to enter the field of business English . . .

English for Business

February 13, 2006

Hello again,

Being able to offer English for business can be a valuable additional service for a school. You might send teachers out to companies, run closed groups, teach one-to-one or have a business English option available as part of your program.

Business English teachers often have experience in fields other than teaching. However, although it is very useful to have experience of other domains, or of the commercial world, it is not essential. On the other hand, it is necessary to be interested in the world of business and to understand how companies are structured and to be familiar with business terminology . . .

The Emperor's New Clothes

January 10, 2006

Almost every teacher’s job application I have read contains the sentence: “I am a qualified teacher”.

ESL Teachers' Associations

October 06, 2005

I have been thinking about the various opportunities for teachers to learn from each other.

Teaching Qualifications for TESL

September 15, 2005

Lots of people seem confused by the range of teaching qualificatiions that exist.

Career Structure in an ESL School

September 08, 2005

As newly qualified teachers travel around the globe to take up teaching positions, there's an air of excitement for them, the schools and the students.

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.

Budgeting for professional development

August 02, 2005

Hello again. Are you preparing budgets for the next academic year? I know schools have many calls on their income so it is not surprising that many organizations give priority to the budgetary requirements of such areas as marketing or books and equipment. However, marketing and up-to-date books, materials and equipment will not be worth investing in if the teaching team has become stale and has lost enthusiasm because, without any doubt, your teachers are your most valuable resource. So how can you budget cost-effectively for teacher development? I have a few ideas I'd like to share with you.

Online training

June 02, 2005

You know, teachers often complain to me that they feel their schools don't do enough to help them develop. I sympathize. Teaching is a dynamic activity and for teachers to feel that are not going stale they need ongoing professional development. Undoubtedly for schools in remote areas this can be a problem but thanks to the plethora of options available through the Internet, there are opportunities for all.

Online training is an attractive form of professional development for teachers mainly because of its ease of access and its flexibility. Staff can work wherever they choose and at times convenient to their schedule. But online training, just like any form of distance learning, has its downside. It requires very strong motivation and self-discipline because the learner doesn't have the support of a group of other trainees. This means that many feel isolated and drop out before they complete their course.

Do-It-Yourself ESL

April 14, 2005


Do you wonder about how to help your teachers develop professionally but feel unsure where to start? It can be tricky, I know. I had few ideas about how you might begin by looking at your own home-grown talent.

Some employers fear that by investing in teacher development they are merely grooming a teacher to move on to a better job elsewhere. Well yes, the profession is pretty fluid and, frankly, teacher movement will . . .