Submitted by L.K., Sri Lanka
Are qualifications such as CELTA and similar qualifications necessary to be an English teacher?
Dr. Richards responds:
Despite the fact that many people, whose only asset is their knowledge of English, still enter language teaching with no training or experience, English language teaching is not something that anyone who can speak English can do. It is a profession, which means that it is a career in a field of educational specialization. It requires a specialized knowledge base, obtained through both academic study and practical experience, and it is a field of work where membership is based on entry requirements and standards.
The professionalism of English teaching is seen in the growth industry devoted to providing language teachers with professional training and qualifications such as CELTA – a recognition of the fact that employers and institutions have come to realize that effective language-teaching programmes depend on teachers with specialized training, knowledge and skills. This professionalism is reflected in continuous attempts to develop standards for English language teaching and teachers and in the proliferation of professional journals and teacher magazines, conferences and professional organization. CELTA and similar qualifications are entry-level qualifications and are not equivalent to a university degree.
However not all university degrees are relevant to a career in teaching English. A degree in literature, for example, will not prepare a teacher to design and use teaching materials, prepare valid and reliable tests, use appropriate teaching methods, design curriculum and materials and so on, any more than a degree in history or geography would do so.