Recognised ELT qualifications or more informal professional development are two ways teachers engage in continuous professional development. Some of the questions I am asked time and time again are “should I do an MA or a DELTA?” or “will I earn more money from doing further qualifications”. To give the person an answer, first I need to find out their motivation.
From the pay survey I am conducting, I’ve taken the 74 responses to the question “What would motivate you to do more CPD?”.
The state of things in the world of ELT qualifications is that they don’t always correspond with an immediate pay-rise from employers. While there are definitely exceptions to the rule, the reality for a lot of people is that there is no sudden windfall upon the completion of further qualifications. Even a €2 pay rise per 45-lesson hour (€2.66 per hour) would involve working 25 teaching hours (45minutes) per week for the next 15 months to earn back the €3000 (approx. the price of DELTA module 1, 2 and 3).
That said, teachers still invest in further development with the hope of a pay-rise. In conversations with newly qualified and more experienced teachers, an increase in income ranks high in the motivation they express. While on the topic of further development, in response to the question “what will be different after you finish this qualification”, teachers answers often point to a rise in income. So what form then, if not a pay-rise from an employer, does this take?
OxfordTEFL, who offer the DipTESOL, list the roles some of their graduates have gone onto as: teacher trainer, course book writer, Directors of Studies, Managers at ELT Publishers and opening their own schools. Equally, International House offer the career path post-DELTA as continue teaching, writing, publishing and training – although they are more cautious in making a direct link between the DELTA and academic management (three further IH qualifications in teacher training, a certificate and diploma in academic management in between). The desire to earn more therefore not only comes from the pay-rise, but also the other opportunities available as a result of further training.
Opening new doors
The MA in Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching at Kings College London lists some of the career paths open to graduates as EAP, teaching ESOL, materials development, language testing and assessment, teacher education. So we can safely say that doing one of these three qualifications could open a new door in your ELT career.
Are we benchmarking or preparing for the next level?
Did a DELTA prepare me for academic management? Certainly it would have if it had involved writing observation guidelines, giving feedback on observations, teacher recruitment, course organising, giving workshops and teacher training. I see now that the Module 3 assignment lists for UCL London’s DELTA includes topics like “Language Development for Teachers”.
What about materials development? Trainees receive feedback on their observed lessons and lesson plans in module two, and leave the course with more knowledge of methods and approaches and beliefs and fundamentals behind printed materials – does that prepare them for the world of professional materials development?
The theoretical and practical components of these courses provide a solid benchmark of quality that I’m not going to pick at. Without a doubt they lead you to the metaphoric door in the ELT career ladder. But it’s not just about getting there. With more qualified teachers and a growing industry, training centres have the chance to produce the future leaders of the ELT industry. The motivation on the teachers side to achieve this is there, so for me the big question is:
What if we were preparing people for going through the door as well?
Let’s have a look at some of the more popular ELT qualifications right now and how they rate in terms of the motivations given by teachers in Germany who have completed the pay survey so far.
Green “Y”s indicate a more positive outcome from the qualification, the red “N” indicates negative and the grey area “?” indicates, well, a grey area.
The grey areas on the Cert IBET and the coaching certification under networking are because some of the courses are face-to-face and some are online. Certainly there is some element of networking on an online courses and some providers such as The Consultants-E are doing a lot to provide synchronous and asynchronous interaction possibilities to limit the networking and interaction trade-off by doing your course online. The distance DELTA does have an orientation session at the start of the course, which provides opportunities to network at the start of your course.
Beyond networking with your fellow trainees and your trainers, which courses provide networking opportunities with industry specialists – the kind of contacts that are good to have for the future at publishers, universities teacher training organisations and testing companies? Do they train networking skills? I smell a unique selling point here for an innovative (and underworked – ahaha) group of teacher trainers.
Do they train networking skills?
We definitely use them. If you have ever been to a workshop or conference, a lot of your time will have been spent networking.
Not the only skills necessary for an ELT professional, but essential for expanding your job prospects and connecting with the ‘open new doors’ motivation. To sprinkle a few more relevant skills to help you make your way through that door, I would include:
- Front-end web development
- Market research
- Conflict management
- Writing business plans
Non-ELT Income Streams
Beyond taking on some work on summer camps or busying yourself writing a book, the down-turn in work is really tough for teachers. The opposite is true at the end of the tourist seasons (June-September) in the UK, when the winter months become a struggle to keep your hours up. No surprise then that non-ELT income streams would rate among the motivations – even only at 8%.
When the rainy day comes, the ability to fall back on non-ELT revenue could be the difference between keeping afloat and ELT losing another talented teacher. Sites like Odesk and Elance are a starting point to find out what skills are in demand and how much they pay. According to data from Linkedin, some of the most sought-after skills in 2014 are the following:
1. SEO/SEM Marketing
2. User-interface design
3. Digital and online marketing
The Career Foundry, A Berlin based start-up, offers courses in front-end web development and UX design for around the same price as a DELTA would set you back, and you can keep teaching at the same time. If the 8% is you, this might be the professional development you’ve been looking for.
So where does it leave us?
We’ve discovered that there are various factors motivating teachers to do continuous professional development. The most common are to improve career prospects and personal development. We want to grow and we want to further our ELT careers, which is no surprise from the teachers I meet.
Course providers’ efforts to connect with our motivation to develop and ultimately get us to buy their product could be more effective. The gap between what is learned in the course and what is expected in the future career can be reduced without reinventing the wheel. My hope is that in the future ELT qualifications manage to bridge this gap successfully.