T is for Teacher Training

7 11 2010

A teacher in Turkey sent me the following email recently:

“I am a teacher interested in teacher development (TD), and I have had my DELTA recently. I am trying to become a teacher trainer in the professional manner. … I would like to request suggestions on the long path of becoming a teacher trainer.”

This comes the same week as another colleague asked me a similar question: how can she gain the skills required to run an in-service program for secondary school teachers that her institution is hosting next year?

Teaching practice, IH London, in the early days

Both questions address the issue of training to become a teacher trainer, a job for which there seems to be no clearly defined path nor formal, certificated preparation.  (How did you become a teacher trainer, if you are one?)

Cambridge ESOL, for example, (who administer the CELTA and DELTA programs) offer no training courses, but only the following advice:


Who can become a teacher trainer for CELTA?

Potential CELTA trainers are required to have the Cambridge ESOL Delta or an equivalent ELT qualification. Prospective trainers with solely a strong academic background may not be suitable as CELTA trainers because of the required focus on practical classroom issues. An MA in ELT with a strong practical focus may be acceptable if the following four conditions are also met. The prospective trainer:

  • has substantial (normally five years), recent and varied ELT experience
  • is familiar with the types of classes trainee teachers will teach
  • is familiar with the materials trainee teachers will use
  • can demonstrate professional involvement in ELT.

What might that ‘professional involvement in ELT’ be, and how could this support an application to be a trainer? My advice:

Give talks and workshops

  • Offer to give talks/workshops in your own institution, especially of a practical nature – e.g. how to exploit the coursebook, how to use the IWB, how to develop listening skills, etc.
  • If possible, observe your fellow teachers, and allow them to observe you. This should be done in a non-judgmental way, and purely as a means of sharing ideas and techniques.
  • If your schedules allow, team-teach with a colleague: planning and executing a lesson together can be an extremely instructive.
  • Offer to mentor newly recruited teachers, i.e. help them with with their lesson planning, and observe them from time to time, if this is permitted.
  • Write articles or reviews for journals such as English Teaching Professional, that focus on some aspect of classroom practice.
  • Keep a blog.
  • Participate in online webinars or discussions hosted by professional bodies, such as SEETA, and offer to moderate one.
  • Conduct some kind of action research on your own teaching, such as monitoring the effect of an innovative use of some technique or technological aid.
  • Join a professional organisation, either national (such as MASH – if you live in Japan) or international – such as IATEFL.
  • Attend, and present at, conferences and seminars, both locally (if available) or further afield.
  • Attend teacher training workshops or short courses, such as those offered by organisations like International House: these are the nearest thing to some kind of recognised qualification in teacher training.
  • If you are thinking of embarking on an MA course, choose one that has some kind of teacher education component.
  • Create a portfolio: e.g. open a folder itemising and documenting all the above activities that is easly available to support any application for a job.

Even if none of these activities leads directly to a teacher training job (which ultimately depends a lot on being at the right place at the right time), they will certainly improve the quality of your professional life, and enhance your career prospects generally.