Becoming an English teacher

How ready are you for your teacher preparation year?

Teacher of English: one of the most important jobs known to humanity.

You will help children become adults; you will help them become successful learners; you will help them lead the life they want to lead. By allowing children the chance to take control over the language they use to think and communicate with, you allow them the chance to take some control over their lives.

This is huge!

To do this well you need to think about what language means to you. How do you use it? How did you learn it? How consciously do you control your use of language?

The chances are that you use language with intuitive skill and confidence. You are able to read, write, speak and listen with sufficient skill to pass the exams and tests required to become a teacher. You use multiple genres of spoken English, intuitively shifting between formal and informal uses of language. You can also be read and write across different genres, including fiction and non-fiction. You might be published, and you may write for pleasure.

Yet you may also have some worries: Is your spelling good enough? Is your grammar good enough? Have you read enough novels? Do you know the major poets? Do you ‘get’ Shakespeare?

Such concerns are common and it is important that you do not let them hold you back. The best way to really get to know something is to teach it, and you are becoming an English teacher. So, guess what, you will quickly conquer your concerns by teaching them!

How, then, can you get ready for your teacher preparation year?

First, some practicalities

  • Have you sorted accommodation?
  • Have you organised your skills tests?
  • Have you sorted funding?
  • Have you sorted clothes (you will need to be dressed appropriately to be in a school, think ‘business-like’), including shoes (I know this sounds silly, but when you are in schools you will spend a lot of time on your feet!)?
  • Have you got doctors and other necessities sorted? (you don’t want to wait until you are poorly to register!)
  • Have you got food sorted for your first week?
  • Have you got IT, pens, folders, notebooks etc?

Some of these sound trivial, but by sorting these things first you will focus more effectively on the major things, like how to become a teacher.

More abstract things to consider

You will spend some time over the summer thinking about what you have let yourself in for. To help guide this process, try to spend some time considering:

  • Why do you want to teach English now?
  • What kind of teacher do you want to be?
  • What values are most important to you?

Don’t spend the whole summer thinking about these things, you will need to get some rest, but do spend some time thinking such things through for yourself. Talk with your friends and family about their experiences of English at school and since school; start making a mental note of all the times you encounter or use written English. You will probably be surprised how often the written word features in your daily life. It is helpful to have an understanding of this so that you begin to understand the crucial part which the written word plays in contemporary life.

How, then, would you cope without your personal confidence and skill? How would you cope if you hated English and did everything possible to avoid using written language? These are challenges which many people face daily and it will become part of your job to help them gain more control over their lives by giving them greater control over language. This is not easy, but it is life-changing and brilliant!

As this blog develops we will introduce more ideas about teaching English and we hope that you will contribute.

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