O'Connell Advanced Training Solutions

flexibles und individuelles Englischtraining in Sachsen

So, you think you can teach?

So you’ve got your TESOL certificate and think you can train? Think again.

I’ve given it a lot of thought over the years, having worked with numerous organisations, and it astounds me the assumption that simply by being a native English speaker one has the innate ability to teach that language. Or simply by having a TESOL qualification (of one brand or another ) one can provide lessons imbued with wonder and inspiration, or simply lessons which are just plain targeted to the learner and competently delivered.

It’s not that easy, and I’ve seen trainers fail spectacularly.

For example, the young trainer from Cornwall who froze in front of her class of adult ESL learners, absolutely froze like a rabbit in headlights to the point where one of the students left the room to complain to the language school’s office staff. She simply couldn’t manage their queries, couldn’t answer simple questions about the English language. She was utterly unprepared.

Or there was a trainer I once knew who was consistently over-prepared, so much so that she had a fixed idea of where her lesson was going and would not tolerate left-field questions, would not deviate from her plan. She’d simply ignore her students and plough through with her lesson, unwilling to respond to looks of confusion, incapable of pitching her lesson at an appropriate speed and level for her learners.

You lose your learners, you’re not a good trainer.

This applies not only for adult learners but also for younger learners. We’ve surely all got a tale to tell about a High School teacher (perhaps Maths?!) who left us behind in a whirlwind of algebra or quadratic equations, per perhaps it was chemistry or even good old English grammar (anyone care to explain the whys and wherefores of Reported Speech??)

So, what’s my point? Quite simply this- your qualification to teach English does not make you an English trainer- particularly for adults, and especially for business clients.

Why do I single out business English clients? Gracious, if you’re even asking then I must insist you take some remedial action and get an office job before considering commencing English training. When you’re asked to train managers in English for Negotiations, how can you do this without actual negotiation experience? The same goes for customer service training, telephoning in English, meetings organisation, effective presentations, engineering English and so on.

Put it this way - would you take advice from a lawyer who’s only ever read John Grisham books? Or a tax consultant whose sole tax experience entailed filling in their own tax return? Or go to a mechanic who watches “Gone in 60 Seconds” but has never had his or her hands in an engine?

And so I come back to my original point - a trainer cannot assume that simply by being a native English speaker they are qualified to teach English.


So my advice to trainers? If you have experience in the non-teaching world, capitalise on it in your lessons, draw on it in your planning, specialise and you’ll fly. If you don’t have experience outside teaching and you want to train adults, tread carefully and train with caution. Make sure you really know what you’re talking about before you place your business students in potentially embarrassing situations with their international counterparts, clients or suppliers.So you’ve got your TESOL certificate and think you can train? Think again.

I’ve given it a lot of thought over the years, having worked with numerous organisations, and it astounds me the assumption that simply by being a native English speaker one has the innate ability to teach that language. Or simply by having a TESOL qualification (of one brand or another ) one can provide lessons imbued with wonder and inspiration, or simply lessons which are just plain targeted to the learner and competently delivered.

It’s not that easy, and I’ve seen trainers fail spectacularly.

For example, the young trainer from Cornwall who froze in front of her class of adult ESL learners, absolutely froze like a rabbit in headlights to the point where one of the students left the room to complain to the language school’s office staff. She simply couldn’t manage their queries, couldn’t answer simple questions about the English language. She was utterly unprepared.

Or there was a trainer I once knew who was consistently over-prepared, so much so that she had a fixed idea of where her lesson was going and would not tolerate left-field questions, would not deviate from her plan. She’d simply ignore her students and plough through with her lesson, unwilling to respond to looks of confusion, incapable of pitching her lesson at an appropriate speed and level for her learners.

You lose your learners, you’re not a good trainer.

This applies not only for adult learners but also for younger learners. We’ve surely all got a tale to tell about a High School teacher (perhaps Maths?!) who left us behind in a whirlwind of algebra or quadratic equations, per perhaps it was chemistry or even good old English grammar (anyone care to explain the whys and wherefores of Reported Speech??)

So, what’s my point? Quite simply this- your qualification to teach English does not make you an English trainer- particularly for adults, and especially for business clients.

Why do I single out business English clients? Gracious, if you’re even asking then I must insist you take some remedial action and get an office job before considering commencing English training. When you’re asked to train managers in English for Negotiations, how can you do this without actual negotiation experience? The same goes for customer service training, telephoning in English, meetings organisation, effective presentations, engineering English and so on.

Put it this way - would you take advice from a lawyer who’s only ever read John Grisham books? Or a tax consultant whose sole tax experience entailed filling in their own tax return? Or go to a mechanic who watches “Gone in 60 Seconds” but has never had his or her hands in an engine?

And so I come back to my original point - a trainer cannot assume that simply by being a native English speaker they are qualified to teach English.


So my advice to trainers? If you have experience in the non-teaching world, capitalise on it in your lessons, draw on it in your planning, specialise and you’ll fly. If you don’t have experience outside teaching and you want to train adults, tread carefully and train with caution. Make sure you really know what you’re talking about before you place your business students in potentially embarrassing situations with their international counterparts, clients or suppliers.