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  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: November 2012

3 - Becoming a committed language teacher


The previous chapter described the collective experiences of prospective language teachers as they participate in intensive English language teaching courses. It focused particularly on the struggles that trainees have in developing, within a restricted time frame, sufficient knowledge and practical skills to teach a class of adult English language learners. The chapter ended at the point where newly trained teachers are ready to enter the workforce, armed with enough basic knowledge and skills to teach English – but aware of their limitations.

The present chapter continues the story of the professional development of language teachers. Section 3.1 describes the kinds of conditions under which language teachers typically start teaching, and identifies the priorities and concerns of language teachers at this early stage in their careers. Section 3.2 describes the kinds of professional development opportunities open to language teachers and how they take advantage of them. Section 3.3 moves on to describe the processes by which language teachers mature, showing that all teachers develop in unique ways, at different rates and in response to different catalysts. The final section of the chapter, Section 3.4, identifies the characteristics of language teachers who are reflective practitioners and committed to ongoing selfimprovement.

Starting out

Typical first jobs

For newly trained language teachers, a first job in an English-speaking country often involves teaching on a temporary basis in a private language school. As described in more detail in Chapter 10, independent language schools run flexible numbers of classes, depending on student demand: when numbers are high, new classes are opened, and when numbers are low, classes are closed.

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