By Mayra Yaranga
A widespread practice among teachers of English is to spend their working hours dealing with learners of different ages: teaching kindergarten and primary school, or teaching secondary school and adult learners, etc. Unfortunately, this practice has a detrimental impact on the quality of teaching and teachers.
In our country, teaching at an elementary or secondary school generally does not have the level or recognition it deserves financially or professionally, especially when it comes to the former or kindergarten. In the particular case of English teachers, they are often sent to teach different levels according to their proficiency in the language, leaving those with a lower level in charge of younger groups. They may also be told to cover all levels of pre-college education regardless of what they were originally trained for. What is more, many teachers feel forced to supplement their income by teaching elsewhere, moving “where the money is,” which generally means teaching adults, businessmen, university students, or training learners for international examinations in the evenings, Saturdays and perhaps even Sundays.
Working all day, every day, leaves many teachers devoid of energy and enthusiasm for their work. They may end up becoming jacks-of-all-trades in order to make a living. In addition, those who devote time to educating people at the most sensitive stage of life feel compelled to seek “status” by teaching more “profitable” classes. This leaves little room for improvement, as everything in their professional lives becomes doing and not finding ways to enhance their teaching, to ensure that those human beings in front of them are being given the best education possible.
This situation may seem inescapable, a routine in which teachers remain stuck without a way out. However, I believe that language teaching is currently experiencing what has affected many other professions: specialisation. Nowadays, teachers need to find a particular area of their interest and devote all their attention to it, instead of trying to cover every type of teaching at the same time. Those who are more interested in very young learners, for example, should start by becoming highly qualified in teaching this age group and begin, through work experience, to develop expertise in this specialised field. If finances are a concern, this should be seen as an investment rather than as an expense. An entrepreneurial attitude will not only fulfil professional ambitions but also has the potential to make a difference to Language Education.
What do YOU think?
Can specialisation have a positive impact on teachers and teaching? Are there any drawbacks?
Mayra Yaranga (1985) has completed Doctorate studies in Education at UNIFÉ;Master’s Degree in Media, Culture and Identity from Roehampton University (London) revalidated by PUCP, a Bachelor’s Degree in Education - UPCH and the Professional Title of Licenciada - IPNM. Currently she works as IELTS trainer, Cambridge Oral Examiner and Member of the Research Area for Universidad del Pacifico Language Centre. She is also ESP coordinator and Pre-University Centre Director at UNIFÉ.