Should the education sector encourage vet trainers, university lecturers, and tutors to pursue TESOL qualifications or professional development?

For many years, international students have been a staple in our schools, colleges, and universities, bringing with them a wealth of cultural diversity (and delicious-smelling food). However, their presence also introduces some challenges, particularly when it comes to supporting students who may not have English as their first language.   

This is where a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) qualification or at least a formal Professional Development course can be incredibly valuable to help the non-ELT educator.

So, what do you think? Should VET trainers, university lecturers, and tutors undertake a TESOL qualification or at least attend Professional Development on TESOL methodologies and strategies?

Illustration of a diverse group of students attentively listening in a large university lecture hall.
A classroom scene with students seated at desks, interacting and taking notes, while a teacher stands in the center addressing a student.

Let’s explore the two options:

TESOL qualifications – Is it worth the investment?

    • TESOL qualifications are formal credentials that train educators to teach English effectively to non-native speakers. Should the VET and HE sectors push for formal TESOL qualifications? Here are some perks to consider:

    • TESOL training equips educators with teaching methods that resonate with international students and address their unique needs.

    • Holding TESOL qualifications can open doors to new opportunities and demonstrate the educator’s expertise in working with diverse student populations.

    • TESOL qualifications are recognized internationally, potentially leading to teaching opportunities abroad.

    • Formal training can give educators more confidence in their ability to engage and support international students effectively.

However, on the flip side, there are time and financial investments to consider, so finding a program that fits the educator’s schedule is key.

Three people in a classroom setting, discussing a presentation on "tesol mythologists" with diagrams and text on a whiteboard.

Professional development in TESOL – a flexible alternative?

If formal qualifications aren’t an educator’s thing, professional development opportunities in TESOL could be a great alternative. These include workshops, online courses, webinars, and conferences to help you improve your skills in teaching English to non-native speakers. Should the sector offer more of these options? Let’s look at the benefits:

  • Professional development sessions are usually shorter and more adaptable to your existing workload.
  • Educators can apply new strategies and techniques right away in their classes, providing immediate benefits to their students.
  • Continuous learning keeps educators’ updated on the latest teaching trends and methods.
  • Professional development allows educators to connect with peers and share best practices.

For this to work, the education sector needs to ensure high-quality and accessible professional development opportunities.

Woman sitting on a chair in a cozy, plant-filled room, attending an online meeting on her laptop, with a male presenter on the screen.

Which path should the education sector champion?

So, what’s the best route: TESOL qualifications or professional development? It really depends on the educators’ personal and professional goals and their institution’s needs.

TESOL qualifications – Great for educators seeking comprehensive training and career advancement.

Professional development in TESOL -Ideal for continuous learning and immediate application of new skills.

The education sector should explore the impact of supporting either or both paths to give educators the tools they need in their diverse student classes. Investing in TESOL training through formal qualifications or ongoing professional development can empower educators to better support their international students.

So, what’s the best choice for your institution? Let’s spark the conversation and figure out the right balance for your setting!

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