The following are my own opinions, based just on personal experiences meeting and talking with Foreign English Teachers across a few countries. There will always be exceptions to my opinions. The purpose of this post is not to deter students from seeking out Foreign English Teachers, but to raise awareness of what they should be careful about when choosing Foreign English Teachers.
I will also attempt to translate it into as many languages as I can.
Lack of Qualifications
I was surprised at how little it took to become an English teacher. These requirements do vary from country-to-country, but some of them (like Vietnam) only require the teachers to have a bachelor’s degree and be from a country that speaks English. A teaching certificate is not even needed, and their degree does not need to be related to language. More surprisingly, they are not required to take any tests to prove they are good at English. This low level of requirements means the level of education they can provide is going to be very low.
Firstly, degrees these days are so easily available, and I am sure we have all met people who have had degrees but are still quite stupid. Degrees are not dependent on language skills. When I got my degree in engineering, at no time was I penalized for spelling or grammatical errors. It didn’t stop me from getting a degree.
Secondly, just because someone speaks the language, doesn’t mean they speak it correctly. Language has always been for the purpose of exchanging information, and is often just what is accepted in their own society, even if it is incorrect. I am sure this is the same in all languages, and not just English. I am sure there are phrases or words you use when talking between friends, but they are not the terms you will use professionally.
Lack of Passion
ALL the Foreign English Teachers I met had not grown up wanting to be teachers. It is not a dream job for them and their degrees are unrelated to teaching. They have become one, because they like being in that country, and they have no other skills that would make them a valuable employee in other industries. They basically just rely on their luck of being born into a country where English is the official language.
Some still do their jobs responsibly, making sure they do their best. Majority though, do just what is enough to keep their jobs. They have no interest that makes them try harder to do better. It is a job they go to during work hours, and just look forward to ending work so they can go out to have fun.
Lack of Responsibility
The key point most people seem to miss, is that students (children especially), don’t just learn the subject from their teachers. They learn from the teachers’ character and behaviour too. They look to them as role models of how to behave in society. So when you have teachers who lack passion, and just doing a job to earn a living that allows them to enjoy life after work – the students would pick up on that attitude. They end up having the same outlook in their lives, of not needing to be passionate about their work, and just care about making a living, and the real fun comes from things you do outside of work. I am sure we have all seen English teachers who would go out drinking, late into the night, even when they have to teach the next day. And this is the attitude the students will learn.
Lack of Ambition and/or Success
This is going to be the most controversial opinion, and probably the one that will be hardest to accept. To better understand this, I am going to give 2 examples that are common in society.
Example 1: People from developing countries, often imagine being able to move to a more developed country, because it gives them better opportunities to earn and live a comfortable life. It gives their children a better education, and has more resources that can make them successful.
Example 2: Even within a country, the ambitious people often plan to go to a city that offers them more jobs that pays better, and has better resources to have successful careers.
Accepting these 2 examples, you have to wonder – if Foreign English Teachers are from countries that have better opportunities and resources, why would they give it up to come to your country? They would have been better being teachers back in their own countries, or even more if they worked in industries that they got their degrees for.
So you have to question, if the ones who become Foreign English Teachers, are people who have given up being in a more productive society (lack of ambition), or people who have failed at being successful in their more productive society (lack of success)? Then you would have to question, are these the type of people you want teaching children?
As a business owner now, and having met a few Foreign English Teachers, I have now become extra careful of hiring anyone who learned under Foreign English Teachers. My initial reaction is that they will have the incorrect language skills, not be taught about responsibility, and lack the passion and ambition to make my business successful.
To again confirm, these observations are just my opinions based on the Foreign English Teachers I have met myself and do not apply to all Foreign English Teachers. The aim is to raise awareness, that if you are choosing to learn (or send your children to learn) in schools with Foreign English Teachers, you should be wary about the person who is actually teaching.