I have taught ESL for four years and in a variety of settings. During this time, I have immensely enjoyed expanding the horizons of the young people that I have taught. Although I had no formal training in teaching English to non-native speakers before taking my first teaching job, I got through my assignments largely through trial and error, overplanning, and a healthy dose of what I thought was "common sense". And I was so busy focusing on staying afloat that I neglected to grow as a "professional" ESL Teacher. Even though I was often able to adapt class lessons to fit my own needs as an ESL teacher, I knew within myself that I could benefit more from ongoing training and development.
To remedy this, I made it a goal to engage in some sort of development on a regular basis. So, I joined a local professional organization of ESL teachers. We would meet on a regular basis and share techniques and strategies with one another. We found that we were able to help one another find many ways to enrich and enhance the delivery of our lessons for our students.
Some of my more experienced colleagues did not share my enthusiasm for the training sessions; nor did they partake in any professional development presentations conducted by our local professional organization. They felt this "training" was remedial and did not serve a practical purpose for them in their teaching of the students. This is an attitude that I have found is somewhat common in the world of teaching ESL, but one which I could never subscribe to. It is always my priority to develop into the best teacher I can be for both myself and my students.
Last year, I enrolled in the LinguaEdge online TESOL Teaching Certificate course at the urging of my principal. At first I was hesitant due to my already full schedule of extra-curricular student activities after school. The training quickly proved to be invaluable. I learned new ways to teach my lessons, to correctly write my lesson plans, to implement new behavior modification strategies, and to utilize new time management skills. More importantly, it gave me a whole new vocabulary I could use to expand my development once the course was over.
The addition of formal training really gave my career a boost. Implementing so many new learning practices and components in the delivery of my lessons really made me a much more effective teacher. It impressed my colleagues so much that they suggested to the principal that I be placed in charge of professional development for our department.
My recommendation to all ESL teachers, even those with "years of experience", is to get as much ongoing training as possible. In addition to possibly enhancing your pay rate, it will reveal new ways for you to enjoy teaching even more to take you and your students to a whole new level. It wasn't until I used the many new teaching techniques and tried out new teaching methods from my training sessions that I became a true believer in what I always tell my students: learning never ends.