I am very cross, and this is why.
I have a place on a TEFL course at my local college. The course is the CertTESOL (see CertTESOL | Trinity College London), the qualification preferred by the UK government and equivalent to the CELTA.
The cost of the course was £750, which seemed a bit steep considering that I have 3 years experience as a college and university lecturer, plus 2 years experience as an online TEFL tutor. Still there you are. You need this piece of paper to get allowed into a classroom as the most junior of EFL teachers in the UK, so you have to pay your money and do your 120 hours of training.
However yesterday I got a letter from the college announcing that the price has gone up by £500, and you have to pay by September. I can’t afford it and shall have to withdraw from the course. Maybe I can save up for a place for 2011, with money earned from…erm…teaching English as a foreign language? Or do I have to get a job doing something else, to be able to afford the training for the job I actually want to do?
Once you have the CertTESOL, there is a further qualification, the DipTESOL, for teachers with experience looking for a more responsible position. I presume (though I haven’t seen it actually stated anywhere) the CertTESOL is a necessary prerequisite for studying for the DipTESOL. It is in any case a de facto prerequisite, since without the Cert you can’t get anywhere near students learning English, and you need classroom experience to do your Diploma.
OK Steve, you can say “It’s what I’ve been saying all along!” now!
Helen, and others. ( I hope Vera is following this too)
Mark and I are looking at the whole tutor issue at LingQ. We are inclined to pay for the controversial “free lessons” but we want to limit this to tutors whom we know are good. This has us thinking about creating a category which we would call “LingQ Certified Tutors”. We are thinking of what would constitute the qualifications but we need to keep it simple. Do you have any advice?
We are thinking of demanding the following.
Must be a paying member. ( We may, or may not, grandfather or grandmother some of our existing long serving tutors)
Must have created a minimum of ??? LingQs.
Must have an oral interview with me via Skype.
Possible additional conditions which we are inclined not to demand
Must have submitted writing for correction.
Must have joined one discussion as a learner
Minimum Activity Index
What I would be looking for in a tutor in my interview would be:
Good skype connection and sound quality
Ability to converse and keep conversation going
Pleasant and encouraging manner
Ability to handle technical aspects of Skype and discussion report
High standard of language skills in native language, and in another language if the intent is to help beginner learners of that language.
I would be interest in your ideas about what else should be considered.
Bear in mind that anyone would still be able to tutor, but only those who qualify would become Certified.
Any other ideas? We could, for example set up a LingQ Tutor course with a certificate, call it the CertTLOL (Certified Teacher of Langauges on LingQ) Certificate and charge 1000 Italian Lire for it, and another advanced DipTLOL for 5000 Greek Drachmas.
I for one, would love…
to get my hands on a some lire or drachmas…
I hardly would ever qualify for all those requirements…
Are you a Lingq tutor now Victor?
I sympathise. I’ve worked as a TEFL teacher abroad. It has always struck me that TEFL qualifications are a racket- you pay the hefty fee, and then provided you aren’t completely useless, they pass you…
But then, I’m quite non-standard in my opinions. When I was at school, I always found it strange how kids would whinge and say they had no chance at “Subject X” because of the “bad teacher”.
Of course, there are good teachers and worse teachers. It is a great thing to have a good teacher.
But if the teacher isn’t to your liking, does this mean no progress can be made at all?
I think not, Steve can speak 14 languages or whatever it is and he didn’t learn them all sitting in a “traditional classroom” while the “qualified teacher” hammered the knowledge into his head. At least I don’t think so:)
Sorry I’m straying right off track, I just wanted to register my sympathy.
I am rather cynical about entrenched education systems that is all.
@Steve: No question that I follow this thread
Paying member: I would change this a bit for example only required if the tutor has hosted less than 50 (?) conversations.
Created a minimum of LingQs: Yes, this is fine. Tutors should understand how LingQ works.
An oral interview with me via Skype: Yes! (or maybe other very, very experienced users?)
Must have submitted writing for correction. Only important in my opinion if he wants to correct writings.
Must have joined one discussion as a learner: Yes.
Minimum Activity Index: No. This changes to fast. Better indicators are number of LingQs created and LingQs learned and number of lessons.
Good Skype connection and sound quality: Yes. I’ve had some conversations with pure internet connections and they were horrible. What I recognized is that my connection is usually very good but sometimes it is poor too and I had no idea why. So maybe there is the need for more than one conversation to have a complete idea if it is a general or a temporal problem.
Ability to converse and keep conversation going: yes.
Pleasant and encouraging manner: yes. But people can have a different view about this.
Ability to handle technical aspects of Skype and discussion report: yes.
Maturity: Better in my opinion: Well educated. It’s not a question of age. (or got I the meaning of maturity wrong?).
High standard of language skills in native language, and in another language if the intent is to help beginner learners of that language: Native language yes. Another language: Maybe. I had some tutors who didn’t learn another language but they did a great job.
I’m not sure if I can afford the LingQ Certificate I have to take a look if I’m able to find some Italian Lire in one of my old pockets. (Maybe there is no need for this because I fail the requirements).
Sorry, I forgot one point: I think, if a tutor have had a lot of conversation as a learner, the number of required lessons could be less than 50 (?).
Welcome to the world of education.
Ah Helen, I’ve been there. I got my CELTA from International House London, which cost £1000 when the exchange rate was still $2/ £1. It was… painful.
I made the money back within a couple of months of teaching in Russia, but honestly I didn’t get too much out of the CELTA that I couldn’t have gotten by relying on my prior experience as a private tutor and asking occasional advice from more experienced teachers or the head teacher at my school. Still, schools require a certification – mostly, I think, because it speeds up the interview process. They have to spend (or think they have to spend) less time evaluating your abilities if someone else vouches for you.
Steve, though you didn’t ask me, I think those qualifications are quite reasonable. (For example, I’ve signed up for a conversation with you before beginning to offer English conversations myself, just so I can get a handle on the process. I think that most responsible tutors would probably want to do the same.) The only potential downside I can see is setting yourself up as a bottleneck with doing the interviews, but I’m not sure how high the demand to become certified would be.
I’ll have to go on eBay to look for those lire. I’d love to become certified.
Helen, excuse me for the delay, but I had no connection for 2 days.
You are awfully right, it’s a shame that I’m still not a tutor. Once upon a time in the future I’ll certainly try it out. Although I should admit that I have no credentials and also no experience, so don’t expect much from me, I can botch the job.
I am looking forward victor.
I think it’s a good idea and I completely agree with Vera’s points!! Of course right now everyone can tutor and it’s ok. Anyway, some control like this LingQ Certified tutor could be great.
Indeed I think it could help increase general LingQ’s tutoring quality.
I’ve recently seen some member profile pages (usually quite new members) that offer Spanish conversations and corrections. I don’t know this people, but I’ve seen a lot of mistakes in their writings (in the profile page or in the wall), sometimes an awful amount of serious mistakes and they still offer writing corrections in Spanish. I’ve seen even someone has had some conversations done. I have not spoken with any of this people, but just for the writing and being myself Spanish, I can figure they do not master the language at all. I’m really sorry for the students that participated in these conversations!
So I think this certified thing can help people to choose their tutors with more confidence, especially at the beginning, when you don’t now anyone or when your level is not high enough as to guess the quality of the tutor by yourself!
"I’ve recently seen some member profile pages (usually quite new members) that offer Spanish conversations and corrections. I don’t know this people, but I’ve seen a lot of mistakes in their writings (in the profile page or in the wall), sometimes an awful amount of serious mistakes and they still offer writing corrections in Spanish. I’ve seen even someone has had some conversations done. I have not spoken with any of this people, but just for the writing and being myself Spanish, I can figure they do not master the language at all. I’m really sorry for the students that participated in these conversations! "
By the same token, I often wonder why non-grammarians try to explain grammar to students… even of their native language.
Yes like alsuvi ,I also noticed that very same thing with some spanish tutors. But I guess it’s not a big deal if you’re a beginner…
Update to first post:
After some more research it appears that the certificate in TESOL isn’t a necessary prerequisite to doing the diploma, as long as you can demonstrate that you have teaching experience (which I have).
I have also found a Trinity TESOL diploma course available through distance learning (with a summer school for the face-to-face bits), for £1 600, payable in installments. The school is based in Edinburgh, Scotland. Has anyone heard of them? They are called the TLI English school and their website is here: http://www.tlieurope.com/.