University Degree Requirement For EFL Teachers

degree.jpgAn article (scroll down)I found on got me thinking about this. Certainly, in many countries teachers are in fact required to have a degree in order to obtain the proper work and residence authorization: my focus here is not on that fact but on this: is this a good requirement?

Can a person be a good teacher without a degree? Absolutely. Can most people without degrees be good teachers? Hard to say. Wanting to teach abroad is an important part of what makes someone potentially good at it. While TEFL a relatively popular field I’d be hard pressed to say that most people who don’t have degrees want to be EFL teachers, so it is not really appropriate to generalize.

Does having a degree mean someone will be a good teacher? Not really. But it is probably a good indication that the person has achieved some set level of education, and usually it also means they have passed through an established system successfully.

I think it is common knowledge, though, that there are plenty of people who get through university without developing critical thinking skills and conversely, plenty who don’t attend or finish university who do.

Individual schools may hope that requiring a degree will root out “backpacker” types, but this may be an outdated strategy as more and more people seem to decide to take a career break and travel and/or teach abroad, in many ways with a “backpacker” mentality. Having a college degree doesn’t seem to be the sign of settling into a career mentality that it once was.

I don’t mean to imply anything negative with any of these “categories” (for lack of a better term) of people I mention – while I most certainly recognize the value of a university education and in general think it’s a good thing for teachers to have a university degree, I don’t think it is the magic ticket to good teaching that is may be perceived as.