Well qualified, just a decade out of date

Ascending standardsIMG_0001_zps810e16ce ESOL lecturersLooking back at these old situations vacant ads, one might realize that with the current standards, what they ask for is out date. Of course, these are the minimum entry qualifications. Now days, the advertisements I’ve seen the entry standards for jobs like the above are much, much higher. Masters in TESOL or Linguistics plus experience. I would love to apply for this job, and, since I do meet the standards for application but sadly, I’m a decade late.

Starting out: Origins

IMG_0001_zpsc472aa15(EPIK 2002)I started teaching in the raw in South Korea, after a short two week orientation at KNUE in Cheongju, Southern Cheongchung province. I say teaching in the raw, because initially it was painful, and without any TESOL knowledge I knew it was horrible. I can only imagine what the students thought. Still, it took me over 5 years to come even what in my mind what I thought was close to being a good teacher. It may have been the deep countryside I was teaching in, but still had a lot to learn. MY co-teachers would have me teach like they do. Even back then, I knew I had to distance myself as far away from it as possible. Amongst my fellow graduates of the 2002 EPIK programme, there were an eclectic bunch of people.

I’d always thought that the students should be speaking more. This initially wasn’t driven by any sort of theory other than laziness. Who wants to speak for the whole lesson? This principle still holds today, though is now backed by firm communicative theory.  Walsh is one, while Thornbury is another.

Ascending numbers with descending requirements

Much to my disappointment, the ESL game in Korea has gotten harder. Koreans (and possibly the rest of the world too) has seen changes and reacted correspondingly. From an observers standpoint, their response has been entirely reactive, emotional and based on what I think is the wrong idea of ‘authenticity’. Authenticity is of course where the Native speaking English teacher comes into the frame, but their person specification stating anyone from North America, is female and a new graduate. That’s a very specific demographic and screams of commercialism of the worst kind. This is what has been touted as ‘McESL’. Glitzy, desirable but with entirely with no substance or containing no academic value at all. My thoughts? The market is saturated, and the businessmen with little or no interest in education can perpetuate their line of McESL. This is certainly not confined to just Korea. Most of North-eastern Asia does this employment practice.

Up-to date

Minimum standards have gone up, but, in light of ‘professional development’ anyone who is serious in a career in ESL should actually keep up. By this I mean professional development. The act of making yourself more eligible for jobs  by gaining qualifications and experience. Very rarely will an employer provide chances for furthering education. As I’ve learnt, professional development or, ‘P.D’ is something you have to do yourself. They can take on the form of on-line courses, attending seminars and webinars. All of which have their advantages and disadvantages. In my opinion, webinars are the best since you’re in the comfort of your own home.

So, for the answer is there, develop within the profession. Spend money on yourself.

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The take home message is, MIC(key) mouse

Seeing Professor Stephen Krashen yesterday was quite enlightening to say the least. Fun, entertaining and still very much young at heart, he went on to spin a talk (you could hardly call it a lecture, could you?) for just over an hour.

Pretty good, I had no problems taking in the talk as it was a talk I’d seen on Youtube. Still, for something that he’s spoken about for a little over thirty years. Have things moved and progressed that slowly in the realm of language acquisition theory? Well, for such a contemporary message, he’s gotten good mileage from it. Nice work if you can get it, but I’m not sure if I could get it, no matter how hard I tried.

Comprehensible input this definitely was, and all credit to Professor Krashen for making the message so easy to digest. Nothing MICkey Mouse about it, but the one thing that I found the most pertinent was Comprehensible input. For me the analogy is that it’d could turn out to be a useful tool in my arsenal of teaching methods. If I can make myself clearer to young, Elementary students, then that would be a major step towards better teaching.

Aside from starting up my own Los Alamos laboratory, I’m going to have to read about it. For now, Krashen is going to have to be the Einstein or even, the Oppenheimer.