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EL People

Follow your heart to succeed

pXSix things

Julie Pratten offers seven top tips that everyone should know when starting off a career in ELT, and reminds teachers why they went into the profession in the first place

As someone with three decades of teaching experience in over 25 countries I realise how difficult it is for EFL teachers to find work that truly inspires them and makes their heart sing. Ideally, we should all be spending our lives doing what makes us jump out of bed in the morning. What I have realised is that we really should do what we love – we need to think about it and not just go with the flow. Like many other teachers, I started off wanting to be a ‘proper’ teacher and trained as a primary school teacher; however when I completed my training there were absolutely no jobs and I was forced to look elsewhere.

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Six things we wish we’d known

Six things

Well-known ELT authors Hugh Dellar and Andrew Walkley have opened a language school – what have they learned along the way?

1. Discipline

We hesitate to simply say it’s important to work hard, because so much of what we do with both our writing and our school is massively enjoyable. That said, there are some aspects of the job that can be a bit tedious, but which are essential. In writing, this might be getting the rubrics right, writing your review units or checking and re-checking work, while with the school it may be admin and finance or arranging and dealing with extras beyond the class. What you have to realise is that all these things need to be done – and done well!

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A purposeful academic

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Melanie Butler asks Andy Otaqui, International Science Foundation co-ordinator at King’s College London, about the challenges ahead

You are an unusual beast in EFL – a science graduate who became a language teacher. What made you make this change and what was your biggest challenge when you did?

Actually, I didn’t ‘graduate’ in science but started a medical/physiology degree when I was eighteen. I decided to switch focus and got into English teaching, like a lot of people, with the idea of being able to travel with it. Over time, I did the obvious Celta, Delta and eventually an MA Tesol, which was about the time I switched from EFL to EAP teaching.

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Trinity builds on its strengths

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Melanie Butler asks Andrew Freeman, Trinity College London director of Europe, about his professional background, the impact of Brexit and his plans for Trinity’s suite of exams

Your professional experience is in publishing, particularly educational publishing. Now you are director of Europe for exam board Trinity College London, responsible for ELT both for students and teacher trainees, as well as music and drama. As I understand it, your interest in these areas and your passion for travelling comes from your family. Your father taught EFL?

Yes, my father did teach EFL but quite late in life. He was actually a vicar while I was growing up, but he and my mother had lived abroad doing missionary work and have lots of tales to tell of this. He then taught English for a time in various places, including quite a long period in Turkey.

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Six things I wish I’d known ...

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Susan M. Sandover on a Tefl career as a trailing partner, losing everything when evacuated from Libya, sharia law disinheritance and ‘risk-insurance strategies’

Susan M. Sandover was married to Bashir, a Libyan career diplomat, for 33 years. Dissatisfied with being just a travelling spouse, Sandover began her journey in the world of EFL 36 years ago. As she recalls in her memoir, ‘Teaching EFL gave me independence but there were unforeseen risks. It has been my breadwinner, my sanity and one of endless rewards, but also one of risks, some of which I have been able to overcome but the final one has proved insurmountable’ – sharia family inheritance law.

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