From The Guardian: Unprepared To Teach?

The TEFL section of the Guardian Education site recently featured an article by a teacher who basically found himself in over his head in Japan teaching English after a twenty-four hour tefl course. His work involved managing a class of toddlers as well as teaching business English classes.

He describes the feeling of not knowing what to do in both situations, feeling, on the one hand a lack of training in supervising toddlers and on the other hand an unfamiliarity with the business concepts he thought he should be teaching to adult students of business English. While a traditional month-long intensive TEFL course gives a potential teacher much more input and practice than the twenty-four hour one he followed, I think these feelings are familiar to many a foreign teacher: what do I do? I am just not ready to teach.

He also mentions the issue of responsibility (or lack of it) on the part of the schools: it shouldn’t come as a surprise – perhaps to the teacher but also to schools who regularly employ teachers trained in this way – that twenty four hours is not really sufficient to enable someone to teach a room full of toddlers on their own.

He did receive five additional days of training on the job, but frighteningly realized within a month of starting that he felt he couldn’t teach.

I think he brings up important points that often get lost in the excitement of TEFL.

I am tempted to qualify some of his points (teaching is something you learn on your feet; many people feel they are not good teachers when they are just starting; many people are in fact not good teachers when they start but they get better) or shift emphasis on others (was it really the school that wanted him to teach about the nature of the stock market, or was that his mistaken assumption of what business English is) – and basically I have here, but I think as it stands this article is well worth reading and while I wouldn’t want it to stop anyone from teaching, its main points are worth some serious consideration, if only in shaping your ideas about the importance of training.