The Importance of Professional Development: Pearson English Podcast

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In this episode of the Pearson English Podcast, the panel speaks with teacher trainers Mike Hogan and Chia Suan Chong about the importance of professional development in English language teaching. 

Listen to the podcast on Professional Development now!

There’s the saying “There are two types of teachers with 20 years of teaching experience: the first are those with 20 years of experience and the second are those with one year’s experience repeated 20 times.”  

Mike and Chia believe that most teachers want to be the first kind of teacher – constantly evolving throughout their careers – rather than repeating the same classes. Additionally, taking professional development courses can really help us reach these new heights.  

Doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals regularly have to seek training opportunities. This enables them to keep up to date with the latest technologies, innovations and changes in the wider world. Mike and Chia argue that teachers are no different.  

Benefits of professional development training 

There are a number of benefits to continued professional training for teachers. For instance, there’s always something new to learn as there are developments happening regularly in the world of ELT. Whether it’s innovations in ed-tech, new research into how we learn languages or a new pedagogy, certain courses can help bring you up to speed with these! 

Mike and Chia say that taking further training will help you to deepen your knowledge and widen your expertise. So rather than simply repeating the same method of teaching a grammar point over again, you’ll learn new approaches. In turn, you’ll be better equipped to find the tools that work to help your students reach their learning goals. 

Another great thing about professional development is that it can lead to career progression and promotion. There are a number of courses that you can take to develop not only skills for teaching, but other roles in the ELT industry.  

For example, you can train to become a director of studies, specialize in business or academic English, or go into ELT publishing or management. There are many options to explore through further education!  

New trends in English language teaching 

To be the best teachers we can be, Mike and Chia stress the importance of being aware of new trends in the field of ELT. Some of the hottest ones include:  

Hybrid learning

Gaining popularity in recent years, hybrid learning is an approach to teaching. Specifically, it involves some students attending class in-person, while others join the class virtually from home. This means that teachers have to be prepared to simultaneously teach both students in person and online.  

Flipped classroom  

A flipped classroom means students are introduced to content at home. Often teachers introduce this via videos and then practice working through the new knowledge in class. This is the opposite of the more traditional method where they are given new content at school, and complete assignments independently at home. 

Bite-sized learning  

One method of teaching that has become more common is bite-sized learning. For example, breaking down information into smaller chunks instead of having learners listen to long, uninterrupted sessions. This helps students absorb information and keeps them engaged.  

If you’re not already familiar with these, there are lots of professional development courses that teach you how to use them in your classroom.  

Formal qualifications in ELT 

So what courses can you take? Here are some of the most common courses that you can take for English language teaching. 

CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 

Cambridge’s Level 5 CELTA qualification is an internationally recognized ELT course. While this certificate focuses on teaching adults, language academies accept it for both adults and young learners. 

Trinity CertTESOL (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 

Like the CELTA, the Trinity CertTESOL Level 5 course is designed for people with little or no experience of teaching English.  

Trinity CertPT (Certificate for Practising Teachers) 

Trinity’s Level 6 CertPT is designed for teachers who have been teaching for a minimum of six months already. Its aim is to support the further development of teachers and help them to improve their teaching practice. 

DELTA (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 

Cambridge’s DELTA provides professional development for teachers with at least one year’s experience. Additionally, this level 7 qualification is designed for those who want to progress into more senior roles such as head of English and teacher training. 

Trinity DipTESOL (Diploma in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) 

Trinity’s DipTESOL is designed for teachers who have reached a stage in their career where they’d like to progress to a more senior level. Just like the DELTA, it’s an internationally-respected level 7 qualification for experienced TEFL teachers.  

Master’s degree  

Master’s studies in English Language Teaching, TESOL, or applied linguistics, are great options if you want to reach a more senior level in your career. Most people take them to become a Director of Studies or reach a management position.  

Specialized courses

If there’s an area of teaching that you’d like to specialize in, there are plenty of short courses that cover a range of topics. These include teaching online, teaching with technology, teaching business English and teaching very young children. Check out LinkedIn LearningCoursera or Udemy to see what they have on offer.  

If you’re unable to take a formal course, sharing ideas with colleagues is a great way to create professional development opportunities. You could exchange lesson plans and ask for feedback or input. There are plenty of podcasts, webinars and social media groups for teachers where you can find great tips and ideas from fellow teachers worldwide.  

Whichever route you decide, remember that learning is a lifelong journey – not only for your students but yourself too! There are always new things to discover that will help you develop as a teacher.   

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