I’m not TEFL, TOEFL, or CELTA certified. My only qualification as an English teacher are that I have a Bachelor’s degree (in finance) and I speak English.
As a Fulbrighter the State Department gave me two days of English teaching training before sending me off to a foreign land. After some time of teaching they flew me to Nepal for a four day conference on English Teaching, most of my fellow attendees were nearly finished with their teaching grants.
As far as the American Government is concerned, I’m here as a cultural ambassador. The Fulbright program funds people, not project. They look for people who will be good representatives of America abroad, all the better if they can teach.
Having some training in English teaching would have been helpful, but I’m afraid it also might have been stifling. I’m fortunate to teach at the Jesuit Academy of Trincomalee, since they have encouraged me not to use a textbook and to go on my own. Not having been trained in English teaching has forced me to be more creative, and allowed me to focus on what I think will have the most impact.
I don’t teach to a test and I don’t teach out of a book. I am quite lucky.
When I was in China I was so frustrated that my Mandarin classes were based out of a textbook designed for students in America. I was living in Beijing and my teacher was instructing me on how to introduce my family and talk about clothing when I couldn’t order food at a restaurant. Priorities… After eight weeks in the classroom we got around to learning food words – needless to say I spent my tutoring hours working on more useful vocabulary and disregarded my formal studies.
I strive to to have my students value our time in the classroom together. At the end of every class I like to ask “what did we work on today?” This forces my students to reflect on the class and think about how it could be applicable to real life.
Teachers teaching to their students’ needs and desires, its a novel educational concept.