Friday, January 15, 2010

2 kinds of teachers

Some time ago I wrote a guest post for Nick Jaworski, the author of Turklish TEFL, called ‘3 kinds of teachers’. To keep it short: type 1 – one who doesn’t know the students’ mother tongue, type 2 – one whose mother tongue is the same as the students’, type 3 – one who knows the students’ mother tongue more or less. Nick’s comment to my previous post generated another idea.

Looking at EFL/ESL teachers from a different perspective we might as well say that there are two kinds of educators: type 1 – teachers who were trained to become teachers and have worked only as such and type 2 – teachers who joined ELT having experienced doing something different for a living.

I’m a teacher type 1. For the past seven years the only thing I've done is teaching English. One advantage of being a teacher type 1 is that I’ve taught kids, teenagers and adults and thus gained pretty much experience. I’ve used a number of course books and have my own library of photocopied materials and ready to use lessons back home. I might be thrown into a classroom and teach a great lesson without any preparation or stress if required.

Yet sometimes I cannot get rid of this nasty, subtle feeling of inferiority. Teachers type 2 are familiar with  such a bunch of other issues. They can bring a great deal of their non ELT related experience into the classroom and that makes a huge difference.

The only things I know about are the ones I studied – British/American Literature, Phonology, Descriptive and Historical Grammar, Linguistics… Needless to say, it surely isn’t something students would fancy discussing.

There are of course personal interests and passions. I’ve always been into travelling, ethnography and films. (If you are planning to take part in the ISTEK ELT conference in March, feel invited to attend my workshop about using documentaries in the classroom J )

I'm really curious about the rest of you in the blogosphere.

What kind of teachers are you?

Can one type of teachers claim superiority over the other?

What are some other advantages/ disadvantages of being teachers type 1 and 2?

Thanks Nick for the inspiration btw!


  1. Here's what happened to me...

    1. When I was at college I had an excellent Economics teacher called Mr Mellor.

    2. I then wanted to become an Economics or Business Studies teacher so I studied this at uni.

    3. I left uni but wanted some experience working 'in' business before I stood at the front of a class teaching it.

    4. I worked in business

    5. I then wanted to combine my urges to travel, my desire to teach and my Polish wife into one neat package and thus I teach English in Poland.

    6. Predominately I teach business English so it's not 100 miles away from what I set out to do.

    Does it make me a better teacher? No
    Would I be a better teacher with more experience? definitely but, the thing that matters the most is passion. I'd do this job for free.