Who can teach EFL?

By Yolande Deane
DELTA qualified EFL teacher with 5 years’ teaching experience

I did my CELTA course more than ten years ago, and during that time I have gained experience abroad and within TEFL and ESOL. I have also met various teachers who have entered EFL teaching through different routes, and with varied academic backgrounds.  Some had come into the profession as volunteer teachers in their local communities and built up their experience that way, some had been working in their local community college for many years, and had never had any formal training, but had years of experience. Many did not have a degree, while others had been to university and had a CELTA, and with any profession there were varying degrees of good and bad teaching.

TEFL qualifications too short?

So, from my experience a wide range of people can be teachers, but despite this knowledge I often feel that many people are given the impression that our line of work is easy, because, after all you only need to do a one month course, and you can even do one online or over a weekend! I mean how easy must that sound to so many people?  When I lived in Italy I met teachers who had no training at all in teaching and landed a teaching job in a private language school, purely based on the fact that they spoke English.

In my opinion the brevity of the of the CELTA course, and the ease at which people can secure a teaching job abroad hides the fact that teaching EFL requires a wide range of skills and knowledge; knowledge of language acquisition, dealing with group dynamics, aspects of linguistics, syllabus planning, testing, specialist knowledge about teaching children a foreign language, and not forgetting bags of creativity.

Do we undervalue our job?

I am a member of an international teaching organisation and the regular journals and special interest literature I receive from them illustrate to me time and time again, that our profession is not to be taken lightly. There are serious issues teachers need to consider when entering a classroom. I am not suggesting that only CELTA qualified people make good teachers, from my experience it does not work like that. However I think that the ease at which unqualified people can get a job abroad and perhaps the brevity of the initial CELTA qualification causes people to undervalue the qualification and what we do. We as EFL teachers are also guilty of undervaluing our job. I believe is connected not only to low pay, but also to the fact that many well qualified and experienced teachers often watch others with much less, or no experience whatsoever entering into EFL teaching so easily. This would make anybody question the value of their job.

EFL teachers old and new are welcome to comment on these issues in the comments section below:

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