Re: [dogme] Re: CELTA
- Anthony's main objection to the feasibility of an apprenticeship
model appears to boil down to the fact that it doesn't acknowledge
the priority of profit over quality in our business.The truth is, as
Anthony states, that employers go with what is most profitable for
them. The idea that quality could earn them respectable, albeit
reduced, bottom lines appears not to be very tempting. The fact of
the matter is that the reason an apprenticeship would not work is
simply because the will to make it work does not exist .
In the UK, people who wish to train as (real) teachers undergo a
process similar to what I have described. In most countries where I
have taught, people from those countries who wish to work as English
teachers in colleges must also undergo similar training. But Anthony
argues that what I regard as proper training is "simply too time and
risk intensive" for prospective teachers. As I said earlier, the
benefits of the proposed apprentice model include the possibility
that it might change the demographic of potential teachers and, in
turn, raise the profile of EFL teachers in the world.
Why should someone who teaches English within the compulsory
education system be required to undergo one sort of training whilst
those who remain in private enterprises are subject to much less
stringent training? Why shouldn't (NS) EFL teachers undergo the same
sort of rigour that is expected of "real" teachers in the UK/anywhere
else? Anthony appears to argue that it must be so in order to avoid a
shortage of teachers. But a shortage of teachers would arguably
increase our bargaining power as professionals and would almost
certainly result in more effective teaching.
An honest answer is that I would quite willingly have undergone a
year's training, were it funded in the same way that a PGCE is and
had the same sort of status. When I chose my course, its duration was
not a key feature in my list of criteria. Anthony states that a
majority of current teachers would not agree with me. Leaving aside
the validity of such a claim, I think it misses the point. How many
other potential teachers might have been attracted by a qualification
that fitted more snugly into what is expected of a profession? In the
realms of hypothesis, I guess the answer is whatever you wish it to be!
Nevertheless, the apprentice model favoured by the UK teacher
education system was not meant to be anything other than an idealised
proposal. I appreciate that the CELTA generates a lot of cash,
doesn't do too much harm and provides a platform from where people
can begin to learn how to teach. However, I disagree with Anthony
when he says that "such courses are pragmatic responses to
conditions and to human nature". I don't see what human nature has to
do with it at all (in fact, I doubt very much that there is such a
thing as human nature -singular). Such courses are pragmatic
responses to the market and are tempered by the need to assert some
sort of validity in order to be commercially viable. They cover the
barest minimum standards, and that they do scantily. They could be
much better. In fact, they should be much better. But whilst people
are prepared to accept the low standards and their failings, they are
unlikely to improve very much.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- Hello Diarmuid,
Thanks for replying to my post but don't quite agree with you that the
argument I put forward is simply one of profit versus quality. It is
rather more profit versus subsidy.
But on the subject of profit, I'd like to put one myth to rest:
running CELTA courses is not a huge money-maker for the institutions
that run them.
My point is partly that a large proportion of language teaching
institutions which exist do so subject to market forces and (major
point) without state financial support. This being so, it is grossly
unrealistic to compare the two and argue that the one system can or
should resemble to other, no matter how desirable this may be.
State teacher training is expensive and it is supported by the
taxpayer. How do you imagine such a system working with such a mobile
workforce as EFL teachers? State trained teachers are not anywhere
near as mobile (either through choice or through legislation which
effectively limits their training recognition to the country of
training (even within the EU).
By extension, it is unrealistic to hope that there can be effective
standardisation between the two markets. The state sector simply has
more financial strength and organisation and has no need at the moment
to think internationally. It will never replace the private sector
completely: outside of command economies, this is never the case in
any industry and it is delusional to suppose it may occur in EFL.
But your point about raising standards is well made and if we accept
that language schools are governed by the market, then a slightly
related and more fruitful discussion might be how to raise awareness
in students that language training is a life skill and deserving of a
high level of investment: The number of students here in Germany who
pay 15 EURO and less for 90 minutes language instruction with a
qualified teacher and no more than 7 other classmates and think that
they are being asked to pay through the nose when they would
unthinkingly pay the same for a MacDonalds or three beers is a much
more important issue for our industry.
Because, let's face it: I have a BA, PGCE and Diploma along with over
10 years' teaching experience and a proven exam prep track record but
because I don't work in a "real" school at the moment, I'm not a
"real" teacher and therefore don't warrant "real" pay or prestiege.
This is clearly not a qualifications issue: I am simply not a state
teacher in a state institution.
So the problem in our job not being recognised or financially rewarded
as a profession may lie in the fact that most of us do not work for
On reflection then, maybe we should all go fiddle and watch the
private language teaching sector go all to blazes - except I guess
that's where most of us on this discussion board have chosen to teach.
Yes, I'm being inflammatory ;-)
Perhaps this is a chicken and egg situation: students won't be
prepared to pay more for our services until they see a clearer return
on investment (i.e. better qualified teachers), whereas the costs of
better qualification will only be covered by either higher fees in the
private sector or a massive growth in the state sector - neither of
which will happen without a co-operative market paying more directly
in fees or indirectly in taxes.
What do you think?
It would also be interesting to hear from anyone reading this thread
concerning the second point I made about what particular aspects of
the CELTA assessment criteria seem out of touch with whatever you
consider to be effective classroom practice. It would be interesting
to try and clarify the underlying principles of DOGME and see how far
they diverge from "traditional" approaches as typified, say, in
courses like CELTA.
- Hi Anthony
I suspect that there's not much we disagree on in reality. Of course,
I am aware that what I am arguing for is highly implausible (I'm not
sure I'd go as far as delusional, after all, I am aware of the
improbability), but, as the graffitti says, "Be realistic, demand the
impossible". The point I'm trying to make is simply that if a German
wishes to teach English in their country in a recognised educational
establishment, they will in all likelihood be expected to do a lot
more in their training than the CELTA brigade. The CELTA graduate, in
your post, has increased mobility to offer in return. It hardly seems
a good swap, does it?
In short, my gripe with the CELTA and other such courses is simply
that I don't think that they are very good courses to induct somebody
into the profession of educator. "Real" teachers (there's irony
there, by the way) are expected to do more. Why aren't we? Aren't we
PS I quite understand that your argument wasn't as simple as profit
over quality. I was just highlighting that when all is said and done,
the important thing in the world of (Private) EFL is cash, not
quality, which is a fairly damning indictment, imho.
- Greetings from within view of Harlech Castle, Wales.
I certainly did not mean to pour cold water over Diarmuid's proposal. I just
wanted to mention that recognition , and strategies for achieving this, must
be built into any new scheme.
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]