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Re: [dogme] Re: CELTA

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  • Diarmuid Fogarty
    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
    Message 1 of 10 , Sep 1, 2006
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      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.

      Diarmuid

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    • a_gaughan1973
      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
      Message 2 of 10 , Sep 1, 2006
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        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
        the state.

        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?

        Anthony
      • a_gaughan1973
        PS, 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
        Message 3 of 10 , Sep 1, 2006
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          PS,

          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.

          Best wishes,

          Anthony
        • Diarmuid Fogarty
          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
          Message 4 of 10 , Sep 5, 2006
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            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
            "real" enough?

            Diarmuid

            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.
          • Dennis Newson
            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
            Message 5 of 10 , Sep 6, 2006
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              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.

              Dennis


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