(33 of 50) MODERN LANGUAGE TEACHING (CLT) & TAIWAN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT IT
Six Signs of a Fake/Not-Real Teacher of IELTS/English:
1st Sign: Two Stories
In the previous post, I mentioned the 1st (and worst) sign of a fake teacher: when the teacher speaks and explains using Chinese all the time. When this happens, you don’t need to think. Just immediately ask for your money back, walk out the door, and never go back. That teacher is a fake. Tell everyone about it.
Remember the comparison I made early on in this series of posts? Someone could explain to you for years how to drive a car, but you will never be able to drive it - until you get in the car, and practice driving. Similarly, teachers could 'explain' to you for years how to use English, but you will never be able to use it (speak, read, write, or listen) until you begin using it (speaking, reading, writing, and listening to it) meaningfully in the classroom.
But the majority of teachers in this country still ‘explain in Chinese’. They are even famous. This fact deserves some reflection. Thus, in this post I will give two personal stories about this 1st sign.
Sign 1: First Story
I once worked at a BIG language school here in Taipei where every single ‘teacher’ just used Chinese. The most ‘famous’ teacher just walked in and lectured in Chinese (about the TOEFL test) to hoards of students. Then walked out. That simple.
When I checked the credentials of all these ‘teachers’ on the school’s website, there was nothing at all related to TEFL. All these ‘famous teachers’ had degrees in subjects such as Philosophy or Business or Linguistics, or they came from (or claimed to come from) ‘famous’ universities in America. (‘So they must be good, right?).
Maybe they were ‘not-real’ teachers – that is, they thought they were helping others (but actually weren’t). But I even wonder about this. When talking to some of them, it was clear they knew they were wasting the students’ time. They joked about the uselessness of the whole industry. Deep down they knew that they were just playing the game: the game where the teachers pretend to teach, and the students pretend to learn. And everyone has it easy - just sitting there listening to Chinese. It’s a widespread game, and it’s been played for decades. And it’s a game that many people don’t want to change – after all, it’s how they are making so much money.
Let’s compare it to my country, Australia. In my country, none of these people could ever teach in any language school. They would never ever be hired. They would never even be interviewed. If they were hired by mistake, their incompetence and inability to teach would be quickly recognised, and they would be promptly fired.
In Australia, there is regulation, and every language schools must be accredited through NEAS. NEAS is a globally recognised body that checks the quality of all schools, and to be recognised by NEAS, every teacher must have TEFL qualifications.
I worked at Monash University English Language Centre for five years, where every teacher had TEFL qualifications. There were regular ‘professional development sessions’ (PDs), the Director of the language institute was a Cambridge Teacher Trainer, and he eventually helped train me to become a Cambridge teacher trainer myself. Then I started training teachers in CELTA courses (alongside another teacher trainer). The centre itself was professional and modern, with ceiling top projectors and computers in every classroom. Class sizes were limited, and all the teachers used ‘communicative language teaching’. It all had to be this way. The centre was NEAS accredited.
So, you can imagine how shocked I was upon seeing what happens in Taiwan: an entire school dedicated to teaching you English, and not a single teacher there is actually qualified in teaching English. Not a single one of them could get a job in their own countries. But in Taiwan … well, they can even become ‘famous’ (but they have to speak Chinese to do this, unfortunately). Wow!
Sign 1: Second Story
This is a very short, but very illustrative story. A new student contacted AIS (my studio) a week ago. This student had studied English in America for three years, and had returned to Taiwan, and wanted to prepare for IELTS here.
She visited several IELTS schools here in Taipei to observe IELTSpreparation classes, and her response to us was, ‘I just couldn’t bear it!’ (or, in Chinese, ‘Show bu liaou’). This student explained to us, ‘All I saw was a lot of stupid memorisation, and students sitting there like robots repeating stuff.’ And so on.
When she observed my teaching, she came up to me, and said, “I recognise the way you teach from my time studying in a language school in Seattle.” And yes, this student has agreed to do both of my IELTS courses (Writing & Listening, and Reading & Speaking) in the next term [Term 5].
But why couldn’t this student bear what she saw in the other schools?
Because she had studied English in a western country in an accredited language school, where all the teachers had to be qualified and well-versed in TEFL methodology, and so she knew what real teaching was meant to be like. She could compare it to what happens in Taiwan. So she knew the truth.
But do you? To learn this truth, you don’t have to study English in America for three years. You can just read this series of posts. Easy, huh? Unfortunately, very few students bother to read these posts (although reading English with a dictionary to help you is GREAT preparation for IELTS).
I’d like to finish this 1st sign of bad teaching with a simple question and an answer, and I will finish most of the next 10 posts in this same way. This question and its answer are designed to make you think. Here goes.
Why do these teacher use Chinese all the time?
The answer: because so many students accept this, and give them lots of money.
In the next post, I will give the 2nd and 3rd sign of being a fake/not-real teacher.
Now, check that you know the meaning of the underlined vocabulary (also repeated below).
- hoard (n)
- philosophy (n)
- linguistics (n)
- to be prompt (adj)
- to be accredited (adj)
- to be entire (adj)
- to be illustrative (adj)
- to be well-versed [in sth.] (adj.)
If you want to find out more about me, go to aisielts.com .