Professional Development For TEFL, TESOL Teachers

Describing Teachers

In this section, we will briefly describe broad categories of teachers. It is difficult however to strictly categorise teachers under certain headings as teachers will find various aspects of each category true for them and their own particular personality types. These categories therefore have very vague lines of separation as teachers often flitter between categories. It is important to be able to categorise your teaching style in the broader sense as this will help you to determine how you see yourself now and what kind of teacher you envisage yourself becoming. The basic premise of this book is to equip you with the working tools to achieve your future goals.

I. The Presenter:

This category of teacher presents information to students as a 'lecturer' would. They, more than often, have an in depth knowledge of their particular subject area, yet may lack a wider understanding of teaching methodology. Presenters often convey information in an extremely interesting and often entertaining manner. Students, however, often do not find themselves interacting on a personal level and may feel uninvolved and unchallenged.

II. The Facilitator:

This teacher, like the Presenter, has a sound knowledge of a particular subject area. This teacher also has a firm grounding in teaching methodology, and may still therefore convey information as a lecturer would, but they also draw on a number of interesting options and activities to help facilitate student learning in the subject area. The Facilitator attempts to promote a student-centred, interactive environment.

III. The Communicator:

Again, like the Facilitator, this teacher has an acute awareness of both subject matter and teaching methodology. This teacher also has an understanding of the student as a person and relates to their individual personalities and backgrounds that they bring to the learning environment. This teacher responds to these issues and factors when planning their lessons in order to create a good rapport and atmosphere. The Communicator may be seen as someone who creates the conditions which are seen as necessary for an effective learning environment.

2. Further Teacher Learning

The truth about teaching is that the more established one becomes in one's job, the less willing one is to take risks and try something completely different. Teachers have a lot to learn from each other and from a wide array of courses and workshops on offer throughout the world.

Ways for you as a teacher to further improve and develop could include:

• Reading articles, magazines and books highlighting ESL Teaching Techniques and ideas. Try them out in your class!
• Exchanging useful ideas and lesson plans with other teachers
• Attending a Professional Training Course
• Attending Conferences and Seminars
• Observing other teachers in the classroom

In Service Education and Training (INSET)

One should be continuously teaching and learning. A great way of learning is for a teacher to observe a colleague's lesson and then do an exchange observation. This should not be done to judge each other, but to learn from each other. Another equally successful way of learning within a school is to exchange lesson plans and activity ideas that have worked well within the classroom. You should share your knowledge, especially in those areas where you display a particular strength or interest. This sharing of ideas may be in the form of in- service-training (INSET), whereby you or another teacher prepares a short presentation to the English teaching staff outlining ways of teaching certain skills or systems. This may include the sharing of successful lesson plans and activities with those in the school. INSET programmes such as these are also instrumental in creating improved relationships and greater sense of cohesion.

Professional Training Courses

It is highly recommended that teachers without a 'TEFL' qualification should complete a relevant certification course. Such a qualification will provide the teacher with the necessary skills needed to teach English to children, teenagers and adults in a School environment. Furthermore, a relevant qualification will provide a solid basis in the fundamentals of language teaching practice and the confidence to take control of young ESL learners in the classroom. There are a number of good 'TEFL' qualifications available such as those offered by Trinity College and the University of Cambridge (Cambridge ESOL). The Cambridge teaching awards are the best known and most widely taken TESOL/TEFL qualifications in the world. The Cambridge CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) is possibly the most well known initial TESOL/TEFL qualification. The CELTA can be extended to the young learner. This extension course is the CELTYL (Certificate in Language Teaching to Young Learners). This extension course enables the teacher to develop the skills and knowledge gained from the CELTA course and transfers them to the young learner teaching environment.
Successful candidates are awarded with an endorsement certificate confirming the additional award of the Young Learner extension. The CELTYL qualification may be taken as a separate course if a teacher does not possess the CELTA qualification. These courses may be taken full-time (typically 4 to 5 weeks) or part-time (over a few months).

For a teacher who has substantial experience of teaching English to speakers of other languages and wishes to undergo further training, the DELTA (Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults) may be the next step. The DELTA will deepen one's understanding of the principles and practice of teaching. It will also examine a teacher's current practices and beliefs and assist in applying the results of learning and reflection to one's current teaching position and more senior roles. This course is offered full-time, part-time or via distance learning. Although the Cambridge ESOL qualifications (CELTA, CELTYL and DELTA), may be considered as basic entry level qualifications for the ESL teacher in a School, one must consider one's motivation for enrolling in further educational courses. Apart from the obvious educational value, does enrolling in a course offer the individual further career prospects, promotion or the promise of a pay rise? If a teacher wants to pursue a course to further their practical teaching skills within the classroom and acquire more confidence in their teaching capabilities, then taking one of the Cambridge ESOL courses is a good idea. If a teacher in a school is seeking promotion or a pay rise by pursuing a course of further education, then a different approach is necessary. Although promotion within a school is given to individuals who display exceptional leadership qualities, a Masters Degree is definitely a 'feather in one's hat.' Masters Degrees take various forms; MA in Education (MA.Ed), Masters in Education (M.Ed), or Masters in TESOL (M. TESOL). Many Universities offer these postgraduate degrees on a part-time basis or via distance learning. They may be awarded by completing coursework, a thesis or a mixture of the two. Some of these Masters Degrees may be completed totally via distance learning or by a mixture of distance learning and on-campus lectures.

Conferences or Seminars

Attending seminars is a great way to keep abreast of the most recent developments in ESL teaching methodologies. It is also a good opportunity to meet teachers from other schools and to share ideas and experiences. Seminars are plentiful and notices are usually sent to school managers outlining the seminar's content, venue, host and dates.

3. Observation as a Learning Tool

One should be continuously teaching and learning. An effective way of learning is for a teacher to observe a colleagues lesson and let them do an exchange observation. This should not be done to judge each other, but to learn from each other. Observation of other teachers is certainly an excellent method of making oneself aware of all the options and possibilities. Observations may provide useful insights for personal reflection and post lesson discussion with the ESL teacher. In the correct environment where there is mutual respect and where teachers are supportive of one another, a post-lesson discussion may be an invaluable way of moving forward and improving. Observations could include:

• Observing a more experienced teacher's lesson
• Observing a colleague's lesson
• Asking someone to observe your lesson
• Observing a trainee teacher's lesson

You should fill in an observation form or keep some record of your observation. This should be discussed with the teacher observed.

Criteria for Lesson Observation

The criteria for effective lesson observation could include the following aspects:

• Classroom
Here, the observer could consider whether the environment is organised and whether it is in fact conducive to effective learning.
• Planning
The observer may wish to consider whether the teacher's planning has displayed clear learning objectives and suitable teaching strategies. The planning should, amongst other things, include evidence that the aims of the lesson have been addressed.
• Teaching
The observer may wish to consider whether the pace and timing of the lesson was appropriate. Furthermore, the observer should take note of whether the students were challenged and motivated. In addition, was the teaching clear and did the students have the opportunity to interact in a meaningful way? Does the teacher display good subject knowledge and enthusiasm?
• Student's Learning and Progress
The observer may wish to consider whether the students have established a good rapport with the teacher and are comfortable with taking risks. Are the students willing to engage in productive conversation and interaction? Are the students productive in the classroom, do they work at an acceptable pace and enjoy the lesson? Do the students demonstrate what could be considered as acceptable behaviour?

Jason Geyser has enjoyed many and varied experiences teaching English as a Second / Foreign Language. He has taught at International Schools and Universities in Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, South Africa, England and Malaysia. Jason has also conducted various ESL / EFL workshops and in-service education training programmes. Jason is the author of the popular and respected Teacher Training Series - English to the World - used by many Colleges and Universities around the globe. Visit the TEFL Training College at to learn how to become an effective English Teacher. You will also be able to download some of Jason's most popular works for free from the TEFL Store.