The very title of this magazine assumes that English language teaching is a profession rather than an industry. In fact, whenever I am editing an article in which the writer refers to the ELT ‘industry’, I tend to change industry to profession, because it does nobody any favours to sanction the view that teaching is just another job. Many dedicated professionals have worked long and hard to improve the image of ELT. According to Keith Copley in our main feature, the battle is not yet won. He warns that the bad old days when English language was described as a seasonal job (and compared to hop-picking!) are not over, with the pay, conditions, and status of English teachers seeming to worsen rather than to get better.
Perhaps, as Jaber Kamali suggests, on our classrooms we need to take heed of ‘broken windows’ theory, a concept from social science which asserts that failing to take notice of and deal with seemingly minor problems can lead to much bigger issues emerging, and a mind-set developing that prevents us, and those around us, from intervening, winning back control and setting things right.
Chris Payne reminds us that experience is not the same as expertise and that we need to remain vigilant, so that we do not lose sight of our duty to impart knowledge, not merely to possess it. He fears that the further we move away from our own classroom learning experiences, the less we are able to empathise with our students, to understand what it means to be a beginner and to identify teaching methods that will help our students acquire the knowledge and skills that we are in danger of taking for granted.
Many of the articles in this issue testify to the dedication of English teaching professionals, whether it is using learning analytics to identify just what the students need in order to make greater progress, as Shawna Vervloet recommends; or finding practical ways to use differentiation, so that we reach every single student in the class, as James Heal suggests; or ensuring that the students are given sufficient thinking time to decide on their responses to feedback on their writing, as advocated by Eamon Cunningham.
The fact that so many teachers take the time to write articles for ETp, sharing ideas and insights about their teaching to benefit others, is testament to their professionalism and the certainty that they deserve serious recognition in the wider world.