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Poll: What kind of TEFL certificate do you hold?
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What kind of TEFL certificate do you hold?
1) I don't have a TEFL certificate and don't plan on obtaining one.
21%
 21%  [ 9 ]
2) I don't have a TEFL certificate, but plan on obtaining one in the future.
21%
 21%  [ 9 ]
3) I have a fake TEFL certificate that I've photo-shopped or bought in Thailand.
7%
 7%  [ 3 ]
4) I have an online TEFL certificate.
16%
 16%  [ 7 ]
5) I have a TEFL certificate that took less than 120 classroom hours to complete.
2%
 2%  [ 1 ]
6) I have a TEFL certificate that took 120 classroom hours or more to complete.
30%
 30%  [ 13 ]
Total Votes : 42

Author Message
bobrec



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Sat Jul 29, 2006 5:41 am    Post subject: TESL certification Reply with quote

Reading the comments about TESL certification, as a professional teacher, from what I have observed in China and in Korea for the past fourteen years, is that a lot of people with good intentions and TESL training, or less, really want to do a good job, but the problem is that they really don't know what they are doing. From what I have seen, most people seem to think that simply talking to students will get the students speaking English. That is a false assumption. If one considers that most people in Asia are speaking English badly, then there is something missing in this discussion. People who are teaching need to understand the learning process as well as the teaching process. Meeting the needs of the students is the most important priority. Writing about being a good teacher is really an exercise in arrogance. If people are lerning from you, and you can prove that, then that is all one needs to say. If students are NOT learning, then no matter what is said, one is not teaching correctly--certification or not. I hope I have not stepped on anyone's toes, but do be careful about patting yourself on the back.
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HenanMike



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Mon Jul 31, 2006 8:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well said, Bob! All the fancy ideas and lesson plans in the world are going to accomplish nada if the students don't want to speak English. This is especially a problem in China, as the kids are so exam-oriented by the time they reach college age.
I start off each year by telling them, "I can't teach you to speak English. I can help you, but I cannot, as I could in science, history or politics, open you up and pour in oral English. You can learn to speak English, but you have to do it yourself by trial and error and practice and more practice. That's how you learned to speak Chinese, that's how I learned to speak English, and that's how YOU must learn to speak English. There... is... no... other... way!""
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bobrec



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Tue Aug 01, 2006 5:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you, Henan Mike. The biggest problem teaching the Chinese is that they haven't learned how to practice. They have spent their entire school years sitting with their heads down, never talking with the teacher, nor discussing ideas with other students. They memorize for tests, but they don't learn anything truly. That is for the majority of the people in China. There are a few who know how to practice at home, but most don't. And anyone who thinks they are a superteacher needs to understand the psychology of the Chinese before they make statements about their super-effective teaching methodologies. One may think he/she is the most gifted teacher, but you can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. So, stop the drum rolling and discuss the problems and how to best overcome them. The Chinese need to have their mistakes corrected and then be taught correctly with constant review until they understand how learning takes place. Talking to them is simply stupid.
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shellydermody



Joined: 02 Aug 2006
Posts: 1
Location: Ireland

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 12:01 am    Post subject: Re: TESL certification Reply with quote

bobrec wrote:
Reading the comments about TESL certification, as a professional teacher, from what I have observed in China and in Korea for the past fourteen years, is that a lot of people with good intentions and TESL training, or less, really want to do a good job, but the problem is that they really don't know what they are doing. From what I have seen, most people seem to think that simply talking to students will get the students speaking English. That is a false assumption. If one considers that most people in Asia are speaking English badly, then there is something missing in this discussion. People who are teaching need to understand the learning process as well as the teaching process. Meeting the needs of the students is the most important priority. Writing about being a good teacher is really an exercise in arrogance. If people are lerning from you, and you can prove that, then that is all one needs to say. If students are NOT learning, then no matter what is said, one is not teaching correctly--certification or not. I hope I have not stepped on anyone's toes, but do be careful about patting yourself on the
back.

Referring to the certification only, i'm very opinionated on the issue of people teaching English as a foreign language without proper training because it leads to unclear teaching of grammatical issues and therefore improper learning. Shelly.
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HenanMike



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Referring to the certification only, i'm very opinionated on the issue of people teaching English as a foreign language without proper training because it leads to unclear teaching of grammatical issues and therefore improper learning.


One of the problems with Forums such as this one is that teaching responsibility varies from country to country. In China, the teaching of grammar and vocabulary is the responsibility of the Chinese English teacher. We surely have a more than peripheral contact with grammar and vocab, but in the end, we are hired to "get the students SPEAKING English".

That being said, I didn't think TEFL courses taught grammar either.
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bobrec



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 4:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Shelly is absolutlely right. Teaching without the proper training is foolish. it leads to lots of problems for professionally trained teachers to clear up. Henan Mike is correct about the Chinese teachers teaching grammar--it is all they can do. They don't speak English fluenty. When native speakers went to school, they didn't see grammar for years, if at all, so why are second language learners being taught grammar? Because it is easy for the teacher. That is the only reason. People need to speak a language well before grammar is taught to them. And people need to know that professional native teachers have an ongong debate about the efficacy of teaching grammar even to native speakers. Truly, only a few are waging the fight that grammar is important. Most of us think teaching grammar is only for the students who want it. Not the others. I never think of grammar, and my major in college was English. People teach grammar, incorrectly, because they can't teach conversational English correctly.
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vcautin



Joined: 03 Aug 2006
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 8:36 am    Post subject: TEFL Reply with quote

8)
Hi guys! I hold a "Titulo de Profesor de Ingles con mencion en traduccion e interpretariado consecutivo" y "Licenciatura en Educacion"
How do you translate that? and do you say Bachelor or Bachelor's?
Well, here in Chile (South America, very narrow country south of Peru, great exporter of wine, copper) to become a teacher of English you must spend 5 years studying Grammar (6 semesters), Morphosintax, Contrastive Analysis, 10 semesters of English Practice, 4 Semesters of Literature, Linguistics, Methodology (2 semesters) etc etc etc plus a 28 hour observed teaching practice and 28 hour observed counselling plus a dissertation, and yet you still find it pretty difficult to teach writing and pronunciation.
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HenanMike



Joined: 16 Jun 2005
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 9:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My French is really rusty and my Spanish non-existent but I'll give it a go - English Professor specializing in Simultaneous Translation. Do you think your deep understanding of morphosintax (sp?-sic), Contrastive Analysis and Linguistics make you a better teacher? I don't know what the first two even are!

Seriously, I teach writing/composition also (because the Chinese teachers can't...write, that is). Now, my students have had minimum 3 years Jr. High, 3 years High, and two years university (they are not stupid!) but their efforts show a total lack of understanding of the simplest grammar -- comma splices, run-on sentences, no idea of conjunctions, verb tense changes mid-sentence, verb number errors, even problems with "a" and "an"!

Guess what? You can't learn grammar from a book. You learn grammar (well, you learn the acceptable way to say something!) by speaking English. Okay, I grant you can improve your grammar if you start with, say Dr. Seuss, and work your way through about 5,000 books as any educated NES has.
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vcautin



Joined: 03 Aug 2006
Posts: 5

PostPosted: Thu Aug 03, 2006 3:53 pm    Post subject: To become a better teacher? Reply with quote

It is true of course that studying advanced English grammar won't prepare you to be a better teacher, but it does give you a certain amount of confidence when teaching. Students here (at university level) always want to know why things are like that - they will even check in their own books to see if your explanations are correct - and if you just acquired the language you'll be lost...
When giving an explanation you go to your "learning center" to look for it and it won't be there unless you had "learnt it" (in Krashen's sense)
On the other hand, I think that nothing but experience can prepare you to be a good teacher. What on earth could prepare you when tenth graders come to you asking for advice on whether to have sex or not? Or when you have 45, 6 year-old kids, on a hot summer's afternoon, in a 4 x 4 (m) classroom, shouting and running?
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esigus



Joined: 15 Aug 2006
Posts: 25

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 12:24 pm    Post subject: To TEFL cert. or not to TEFL cert.? Reply with quote

45? Wow! I thought my limit was 29! Don't know how you can handle just the NOISE!

I've posted my feelings on this issue in a different thread, but feel they're just as pertinent here (sorry, Guys!). And I know this thread isn't so fresh anymore either.

Our first priority is to teach our students (regardless of age) to understand & to be understood. So a good cert. course is going to delve into the issue of teaching "proper English" vs. teaching "common English" & which method most clients are interested in these days (which will vary drastically from public school systems to corporations).

I strongly feel that some sort of training is very beneficial. That's not to say that one CAN'T teach without it, but it seems to me that it would definitely be much more difficult. I know that my training brought so many issues up that I would not have been prepared for without it. There are things such as class management, schedule management, discussion with employers, not to mention grammar(!) that were incredibly helpful to me. (Yes, my course did a lot of grammar discussion & how to teach it. It certainly brought to light many issues that I needed to brush up on concerning terminology, spelling, etc.)

I know quite a lot of people with horrible spelling & grammar who are actually good teachers because they took some training, found mentors & have read & studied about teaching enough to be able to teach well, sometimes using their own deficiencies as tools.

Suffice it to say, it's always good to have guidance & wisdom from those who've gone before. If one reads the entire Robert Frost poem, the point he was trying to make is that The Road Less Traveled is terribly difficult & it's a shame to waste the insight & knowledge available from those who've paved the way & know what works & what doesn't. What we can do is keep extending that path further & expanding the knowledge-base available to our colleagues.
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canuckophile



Joined: 11 Feb 2005
Posts: 33

PostPosted: Sat Sep 30, 2006 2:22 pm    Post subject: TEFL and teaching Reply with quote

My TEFL certificate sure didn't prepare me for Asian students. I think to be useful, any teacher training should be aimed at the kind of students you're going to teach.

Those of us who teach in NE Asia (Chineae, Koreans, Japanese, and I assume the Mongolians) are teaching language groups that are almost the dead opposite of English. No articles - few verb tenses - for Korean/Japanese, completey different word order - and again for Korean/Japanese/probably Mongolians too, pronunciation that is the diametric opposite of ours (English is tongue-up; Korean/Japanese are tongue-down; English is voiced mostly with tongue and lips; Korean/Japanese/Mongolian are more throat voiced).

All this is such a handful to grapple with (for both the poor students and the teacher) that anything other than basic grammar is a waste of time. To me, they need to be able to write a simple English sentence - not master advanced essay writing. Yet we rush them along from one big grammar lesson to another emphasizing writing forms they don't understand and can't use.

I find it annoying, in fact, that my university selected what are basically grammar textbooks with grammar WAY too advanced for them to master in speaking - they struggle even to understand it in written form. The textbooks both bore and confuse the students, who never really understand any of it but try desperately to memorize the latest grammatical constructions (let's see: how about constructing a gerund phrase... Oh, here's one! "Learning English is a pain in the butt"

And the longer I teach, the more I'm wondering if (at least with Korean speakers, who seem to have the worst time learning English) we aren't putting the cart before the horse. They don't understand half of what you say to them, no matter how many years of English they've studied and how "good" their vocabulary supposedly is.

I used to work in the literacy field in the US, and researched brain development and language in young children. It seems to me the same way we larned English as children is the best way to learn as adults.... we listen and understand before we speak. (Even a 9 month old child has a rather large vocabulary - they understand hundreds of words before they start to speak, somewhere between 15-20 months.)

When I taught public school (elementary - also in Korea), it shocked both me and my Korean co-teacher that so many students would answer: "How are you today" with "it's sunny" and "How's the weather" with "I'm fine." Why does this happen? Well, they've been pushed into "conversation" without having a clue what any of it actually means. That's my theory, anyway. SO they just listen for a "key word" and blurt out the memorized phrase. Granted, these are kids - but college students are often also clearly just reaching for one magic word to respond to.

I think this conversation bit is WAY overdone. If they haven't mastered a true understanding of basic vocab and rudimentary English grammar so they understand the meaning of what you are saying, they will not be able to master conversation.

Not that I have any magic formulas for teaching listening. I just notice that students who are able to listen intently are also the best speakers.

Anyone up for a thread on teaching conversation tips? I'd be interested in how it is going in China. I have some successes with my college students - of course, depends a lot on how motivated they are.

Let me know....


.
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bobrec



Joined: 29 Jul 2006
Posts: 11
Location: Beijing

PostPosted: Mon Oct 09, 2006 9:43 am    Post subject: Teaching in China Reply with quote

What has been important to say has been said, except for the fact that most Chinese don't practice speaking what they have been taught. That is why they don't learn. They have never been taught to practice, that is why they haven't learned. If you are like me and have told them to practice, they simply don't practice because we are not Chinese telling them what they have to do. That is it in a nutshell. Also, one needs to know that people in China can't say "th" correctly, they don't pluralize plural nouns, and all the very tenses are wrong, even the present tense because they don't use the present continuous correctly. They need help, and only professionally trained teachers with real teaching credentials can do this job. The rest should pack up, giving the Chinese authorities the word that they need professionally trained teachers. They will have to pay them much more than they do to attract them here. Good intentions and arrogance are never going to do it correctly, I am sorry to say. Someone needs to be telling the truth.
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RAFplumBOB



Joined: 28 Nov 2005
Posts: 14
Location: UK

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2006 9:28 am    Post subject: Re: NONE Reply with quote

sigmoid wrote:
I don't have a certificate, but have something much better:

years of teaching experience. Smile


I have years of teaching experience and a certificate Laughing although, after reading some of the posts in this forum, I am not sure of its value. It consisted of a 40 hour on-line course plus a 20 hour grammar awareness module plus a 20 hour weekend practical teaching element. It stood me in good stead during summer school so I suppose it must be of some worth although how much of that was down to my previous experience is open to discussion. In the end there is no substitute for experience. You can have all the fancy certificates in the world but they are just worthless pieces of paper if you cannot apply yourself in the classroom. Razz
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shadow



Joined: 28 Nov 2006
Posts: 1
Location: china

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 3:50 pm    Post subject: what TEFL certificate do you hold? Reply with quote

Am I late in taking the poll? I don't have this certificate or any other kind of certificate, whatsoever. I don't think it is necessary for a BEd degree holder.
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Guy Courchesne



Joined: 05 Jun 2004
Posts: 263
Location: Mexico

PostPosted: Sat Dec 16, 2006 10:51 pm    Post subject: Re: what TEFL certificate do you hold? Reply with quote

shadow wrote:
Am I late in taking the poll? I don't have this certificate or any other kind of certificate, whatsoever. I don't think it is necessary for a BEd degree holder.


That's not been a common view in my experience, at least not for those with some time teaching out there. It depends a lot on where you want to teach and if you're green or with some classtime behind you.
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