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EFL Teaching Standards – Self-regulated or Imposed?

Malta harbourJean Sciberras, Academic Manager at the Federation of English Teaching Organisations – Malta (FELTOM), has been pondering the linked questions of teacher standards, peak summer demand and the benefits or otherwise of official regulation.

Like many centres for English language teaching across the globe, Malta has a massive influx of students in the summer months, many are youngsters wanting to combine learning in a relaxed atmosphere with some fun. In our case, the numbers can be quite challenging.  More than 70,000 students come to the island and almost half of these are juniors.

Of course, at peak times we need lots of extra teachers to meet this demand.

Our schools advertise vacancies in the usual way and we get applicants from far and wide, but many of our summer EFL teachers are local university students or state school teachers on their summer breaks.  As the Academic Manager at the Federation of English Teaching Organisations – Malta (FELTOM), responsible for quality assurance amongst other things, I am keen to make sure that standards are maintained, so I’ve been doing some investigation work.

I wanted to find out how the schools make sure that the part-time summer teachers were good enough, and how they supported them.  The most frequent responses to my questionnaire survey and phone calls were:

  • Minimum qualification level – TEFL plus English ‘A’ level, or CELTA
  • In-house induction and training sessions
  • Observation, feedback and mentoring arrangements

I also quizzed them about their recruitment and induction processes during the rest of the year and again, most of the schools followed a similar path, which I’ve summarised here:

All this got me thinking about whether we’re doing enough, or are we being too restrictive?  I know in some countries the authorities insist on a degree in linguistics before issuing a visa, while in other places even teenage students taking their ‘A’ levels or equivalent can be in charge of classes.  What’s been your experience?

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