And, there are a great many reasons why learners can benefit from teachers who learnt English themselves as a second language. Firstly, the intricacies of the English language, such as identifying parts of speech, are rarely taught in the educational systems of countries where the first language is English. Often, CertTESOL trainees whose first language is English feel overwhelmed by the terminology at first and lack the confidence to explain why we use the past simple of present perfect at a particular moment.
Secondly, having learnt the language themselves, these teachers make excellent role models for their students. They can provide their students with an achievable goal of becoming a competent English speaker. Furthermore, with the rise of English as a Lingua Franca, there is less demand nowadays for teachers to have a standard accent in English, whether that be British English or any other variation.
If English isn’t your first language, we require future CertTESOL trainees to demonstrate a C1 level of English, both spoken and written. We assess this informally in the interview during which, as well as chatting about your reasons for taking the course and other things, you’ll complete a short written task. For anyone thinking of taking a CertTESOL, the first step is to increase your confidence in using the language: read widely, watch original language TV programmes and chat to other people in English whenever possible. Though an official qualification in the language isn’t a requirement, having a C1 certificate, or even better C2, will certainly help provide you with an extra boost when you’re looking for work.
Many language schools in Spain are now trying to change their clients’ impression of the relevance of their teacher’s passport. In the European Union, it is illegal to discriminate in job offers by requesting applicants have a specific first language. The same is unfortunately not true of other parts of the world. For example, in China, the vast majority of ELT professionals need to hold a passport from an English-speaking country, such as South Africa or New Zealand.
For more information about promoting equality in our industry, you may be interested in following Marek Kiczkowiak’s work on TEFL Equity Advocates.