When I first did my CELTA at International House London many years ago, I remember my tutors holding up the journals English Teaching professional (ETp) and Modern English Teacher (MET), and introducing us to the idea of continual professional development (CPD). I remember thinking two things: ‘Why is TEFL full of acronyms?’ and ‘Do you mean the month-long CELTA wasn’t going to teach us everything we need to know about teaching English as a foreign language?’
Okay, I told you a lie. The acronym CPD didn’t exist back then.
And I know some more pedantic TEFLers who would rush to correct me. I can hear their ‘teeeny’ voice at the back of my head going, ‘CPD isn’t even an acronym, it’s an abbreviation! You’ve got to be able to pronounce acronyms, like UNESCO or AIDS…’
But I digress.
The important lesson I learnt then was that the CELTA was not a course that was going to teach me everything I need to know about teaching English as a foreign language. The CELTA was a course that would teach me how to keep learning and practicing, researching and exploring, finding out and reflecting on all I can do to make me a better teacher. And in the hands of my tutors were the two journals that represented how we could do all that.
Now, you must remember that this was back in the day when the internet was not a common tool that teachers used beyond making a few crossword puzzles.
I didn’t even have an internet connection at home back then. If I wanted to read discussions about teaching, I bought a book by Jim Scrivener or Jeremy Harmer and read it from cover to cover.
Even in the days of my DELTA, researching a topic for my PAs (short for Portfolio Assignments, which are now called LSAs – see what I mean about acronyms?) often meant hours in the library pouring over books, and looking through the shelves for the right issue of ETp or MET that was relevant to my topic of choice.
Times are different now.
With the continuous advancement of the internet and accompanying mobile devices, and their increasingly prominent roles in our everyday lives, we can now research the information we need online.
We are able to keep up with the latest and feed our minds through reading not just blogs by the great TEFLers like Jeremy Harmer or Scott Thornbury, but also blogs written by fellow practitioners and teacher trainers from all over the world; We have the power to participate, contribute and reflect on our practice and our beliefs by commenting, sharing, blogging, tweeting and discussing through the proliferation of Web 2.0.
And in this age of social media and TEFL blogging, I’m truly honoured to be able to introduce myself as your regular blogger of ELTknowledge, the official website for ETp and MET (NB: eltknowledge has now been replaced by the English Teaching professional website - March 2013).
But let’s be honest. No matter what the preconceptions one might have before doing any teaching qualification, by the end of that course, there is no way anyone would come away thinking they now know all about teaching English as a foreign language.
But there will be some who might pretend they do, and some who might know they don’t, but would prefer to survive on the bare minimum to get away with holding on to their teaching job.
But then there are some who would grasp the opportunity to develop with both hands, perhaps impassioned by their tutors, and constantly seek more knowledge and growth.
You, who have sought out this website, clearly belong to this latter group.
You, who have chosen to use your spare time to read up more about teaching and learning, are the teacher who never stops developing.
You, who will be an active participant as we explore the cutting edge and the new, whilst never throwing the baby out with the bathwater, will contribute and comment and engage in discussions.
Isn’t this all so exciting?
We have a job where we never stop learning.
Where nothing is set in stone, and nothing is black and white.
Where we all can have different opinions and learn from each other’s ways. Where every single one of us can make a difference.
Don’t we just love what we do?
About English Teaching professional’s regular blogger:
Chia Suan Chong is a General English and Business English teacher and teacher trainer, with a degree in Communication Studies (Broadcast and Electronic Media) and an MA in Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching from King’s College London.
A self-confessed conference addict, she spends a lot of her time tweeting (@chiasuan@ETprofessional), Skyping, and writing. You can find out more about her on her blogsite: http://chiasuanchong.com