I have been an English Language Teacher for 20 years. When I started my career, I didn’t think it would take much effort to teach others something I had learnt during my childhood and teenage years. I could even make some “easy” money while I was at it! “How hard could it be?” I thought to myself.
20 years, a BA in ELT, two MAs related to education, several teaching certificates and teacher training practices later, I am surprised to find that this way of thinking is still common among individuals who wish to teach English as a Second Language. After all these years of study and hands-on experience, I continue to face the stereotype that simply knowing how to speak English deems me a good teacher of English as a Second Language.
What may start as a naïve notion to become a language teacher soon gives way to the reality of hours of preparation and hard work. These are necessary regardless of the drive that may initiate or accompany development as an ESL teacher.
It makes me wonder if there is something that language teacher preparation programs can do to better prepare future teachers right from the beginning? Also, is there more we, as members of the profession, could do in our everyday interactions with others who express interest in English language teaching?
I believe that the role of the teacher, today more than ever, needs to be reinstated and defined as one that demands effort and requires making sacrifices in one’s comfort zone. To me ESL teaching is more than aiding language proficiency; it is also a means to building bridges and connecting with others around the globe.
I speak, therefore… I teach?
No. I teach because I became uncomfortable with only speaking and decided to learn how to teach.
Post written by: Caro Serratos, OCELT, M.Ed
Caro Serratos is a certified professional in the field of education with expertise in TESL / ELT / EFL and language teacher training. She has held positions coordinating language departments in private schools in Mexico, as well as teaching students with special needs.