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Woefully Unqualified 
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Post Woefully Unqualified
Just a general question for those of you out there who either have their own school, or are really serious educators.

Why is it that there are so many, and I mean WAY too many unqualified "teachers" in ESL??? Over the years I cannot count how many lousy rotten people I have met who say they are teachers. Never on time, never prepared, never dressed for work, wildly inappropriate with students and staff, overbearing, obnoxious, and ill-informed about other cultures these people make so much trouble.

Why do they come here? And better yet, how can we separate the wheat from the chaff??


Fri Jan 02, 2009 7:39 pm
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Post Teachers
Yes there are too many people running around here in the world calling themselves an ESL Teacher just because they stood up in front of a class, played a few games and got paid for it. The demand for English has grown so much these past few years that many countries/schools do not care if the teacher is serious or not, has any qualifications, as this is a money making scheme for the school. So if you are a western person and you want to see a part of the world that you would never normally see and make a few dollars to support yourself while you are there, go teach English!
Many people have written on many ESL forums that until these schools take education serious and ask for real qualifications from their teachers nothing will change in the ESL teaching world. After being in China for three years I agree. This is something that needs to start in the country that is hiring these people. Remember if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.


Sat Jan 03, 2009 8:22 am
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Where are you from? sounds like Thailand.
I quite agree with you. This argument has been going on here for ever.

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Sat Jan 03, 2009 12:11 pm
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Well, I think it's a matter of supply and demand. Just like you said, there are plenty of people who want to learn English from native speakers. They'll pay and so others need to get product to sell. They'll take whomever they can get. Sometimes they fire someone for being unprofessional and hire the next guy in line (who was fired from somewhere else ...) It happens all the time here.

Unfortunately, since the requirements, and therefore expectations, are quite low, there's very little incentive for current teachers to seek qualifications or education in teaching. I know quite a few people who have been teaching 5+ years that don't have any qualifications or education in TESOL and haven't done anything to improve the situation. These aren't people who just left home to travel for a year or so ...

That doesn't make them bad teachers. That's just the situation. However, if you gave a carpenter an architect's job, you'd hope that carpenter would study a bit about design before he built your house.

I think the real problem is what's the incentive for 'the wheat' to stay? We had a short conversation about security in ESL as a profession a while back http://www.mes-english.com/forums/viewtopic.php?t=2006 .

If the profession continues to be a part-time job, I think we'll continue to see people take it as just that. However, as more and more people look to teaching English as their profession, we'll see more people getting qualifications/training and when supply starts to increase or demand decreases maybe the pendulum will swing back more toward neutral.

Every year there seems to be more and more people hanging around and looking to make this their job. I think the situation is getting a little better and we just need time for 'the wheat' to pile up :D

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Sat Jan 03, 2009 1:09 pm
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jurgensboot wrote:
Where are you from? sounds like Thailand.
I quite agree with you. This argument has been going on here for ever.


I'm from Canada but have been in Japan for several years now.


Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:07 pm
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Mark,

I am in total agreement that there are some very poor incentives for the real pros to stay long in Japan. The lack of pension, limited contracts (1-3 years usually), dismal hours (sometimes), and the general practices of companies like Interac et al. But... there are still many good schools, whether they be private schools, colleges, or universities who still seem to suffer fools gladly year in and year out.... it is a real problem.

There definately needs to be some better institutional controls to make offerings more attractive for real teachers. No doubt about it.

As for TESOL certificates etc... sheesh...well, their value is also somewhat debateable, no?


Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:18 pm
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markg wrote:
As for TESOL certificates etc... sheesh...well, their value is also somewhat debateable, no?

Yeah. I think much like colleges and any other course, those that want to squeak by can and those that want to make the most of it will.

I took a TESOL course and was in it just for the certificate, but I found the info interesting and since I had been teaching a few years already, it was pretty basic and easy, but still worth the read and good to know. Eve3n if I already knew some of it, it was good to have it written down in front of me. It was also good to confirm some of what I had assumed as well.

Now, I'm staring down the end of my masters run. There hasn't been much that I would call immediately applicable, but it all has been good for my developement. I'm totally ready to be done with the studying, but doing the readings and work has really helped me here and there to be a better teacher. Again, I think you get out what you put in, but I do think it has all helped.

You don't need to go the way of formal education to get that knowledge. you can do it by participating in forums, learning from others, reading on your own and there are of course professional journals for ESL teachers. I might start subscribing when I'm done with my Masters, just to keep up a bit (at least with the headlines :P )

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Sat Jan 03, 2009 11:08 pm
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There is no doubt that whatever education program you are in, you will reap the benefits that you sow. Agreed. No problem at all. I think that we are in agreement that there is no small amount of people who jump on the TESOL bandwagon to get these minimal "requirements" (or is that justification...?) to start getting in front of students to teach them.

For me, I have had a lot of formal education, have those advanced degrees etc. etc. and I enjoyed my studies a lot. After coming to Japan I had to learn a lot on the job, and to see how I could adapt my education to the realities of the kids in front of me (and that can be quite a leap!!). Anyway, what formal education provided was an ability to read and to write, to understand and decipher grammar and be able to explain etymology and style, all beneficial stuff especially with advanced students or professional types.

What surprises me, Mark, is why would you want to "go backwards" and chase down the MA in ESL? I think that you have already reached the goal of many graduates of those kinds of programs. You have your school, and from what I can gather from your website, it is quite successful. Wouldn't a degree or further work in marketing or business be something that would help grow your school? Have you thought about developing an entire system of teaching (with your GREAT materials) that you could "package" and franchise? Anyway, I see huge potential in your stuff and I think that folks all over the world who are using your materials see that too.


Sun Jan 04, 2009 11:01 am
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markg wrote:
What surprises me, Mark, is why would you want to "go backwards" and chase down the MA in ESL? I think that you have already reached the goal of many graduates of those kinds of programs. You have your school, and from what I can gather from your website, it is quite successful. Wouldn't a degree or further work in marketing or business be something that would help grow your school?

Well, yes. A business focused degree would be better for growing my business, but I'm not very business oriented. I run my own business. However, I'm not a big fan of the business side of things. I'm sure there are plenty of stronger moves I could have made with my business, but I'm doing all right for myself here and finally finding a pretty good balance between work and play, tending these days to choose free time over work if I can.

I thought about an MBA originally, but most universities are starting to look at applicants a little more critically these days. They used to require a Masters in any area and an MBA would have been enough. However, these days they're looking for MA in TESOL, Applied Lingusits, Linguistics, and so on. At least, so I've heard. I've actually been hearing that a PhD is the requirement lately.

Right now, I'm not that interested in a university position, but in 10-15 years when it's a little harder to teach 15-20 kids classes a week. I might want to move in that direction.

I'm 34 with family and pretty settled here in Japan now. I don't need to have too many more doors open for me but just need to keep the doors I have open. So, for now I'm working on a Masters in Applied Linguistics, but I may not stop there ... although, I'll be happy to take a break for a couple years :)


markg wrote:
Have you thought about developing an entire system of teaching (with your GREAT materials) that you could "package" and franchise? Anyway, I see huge potential in your stuff and I think that folks all over the world who are using your materials see that too.

I have a system and there is reason to my madness. I'm hoping to get that 'package' together in 2009. Right now the recipe that goes along with all of what you see on MES and some of what you've yet to see is a skeleton of notes and main points that only make sense to me. I know how to get from 1 to 2, but none of that's written down. I'm slowly filling in the info and trying to make the curriculum make sense to someone else.

Once it's completed the current plan is just to post it. While I know that makes my business-minded friends jump off the page at me. I'm hoping it helps in the overall scheme of the world. I'm not so happy with the greed I see these days. Plus, I don't think there are that many people out there that are prepared to drop the textbooks and follow me into the dark mist :D. While I believe that it's something I could sell, I don't know if it'd be something I should sell ... It will probably just be a nice reference source for supplementing or building onto something else.

Anyway, that's a decision to make when I've actually finished writing all that out.

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Sun Jan 04, 2009 6:47 pm
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Mark,

It seems that you are committed to your goals of making the scheme of teaching ESL in the world a little better. Judging from what is on your site thus far, I think that you have provided a miraculous service for so many. Thanks for all the great stuff here! You've been a huge help.

I agree that simply pursuing money for its own sake brings little satisfaction in life. You've expressed that sentiment very nicely here. Great stuff!

Anyway, please keep up the great work here. I am sure that a great many teachers and a multidude of students will benefit from your generosity here.

All the best!!!!


Sun Jan 04, 2009 8:16 pm
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What surprises is me is that both school managers and students often don't seem to be very aware of the difference between effective teachers and lazy/incompetent teachers.

I look at it like this. I can't really tell the difference between a good plumber and a bad plumber or a good dentist and a bad dentist. You'd have to know quite a lot about the subject to be able to have an opinion. That's why millions of ESL students are, alas, putting up with garbage lessons.

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Tue Jan 06, 2009 4:43 am
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I have to agree with the incentive thing. I also think that the problem runs with the culture and system. Been teaching here for over 10 years.. Never really studied, in the formal sense, linguistics or educational theory, but have done quit a bit of self study and I also remember quit a lot from my the ESL classses I had to attend as a child. In the end I think that those who are real 'educators' stay if do their thing regardless of pay and other incentives... Also in a way being a teacher is different from culture to culture. In most western nations being a teacher is a calling, like being a priest or a soldier or a doctor. I do know that here in Japan being a teacher is considered a plain old job.


Tue Jan 06, 2009 1:18 pm
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