The importance of the craft of language teaching.

You have spent at least 4 years at university, worked hard to develop your own language and intercultural skills and you are off to share them with others. Perhaps you will then spend a further year or so in training, studying for a Master’s level qualification and working on the job to acquire the many practical skills required to manage classroom after classroom of young learners. They will present you with many challenges, they will inspire you, frustrate you, disappoint you, and fill you with joy. You will question why they reject your hard work and fail to share your enthusiasm for a carefully planned lesson, you will fall down and get back up again, they will teach you many valuable lessons. If all goes to plan, you will enjoy countless moments of pride as some thank you for the part you have played in their future. Some will return years later with tales of how languages changed their life.

But you are dispensable.

Business will tell you that your profession can be replaced by Skype translate and an app or two. Managers will tell you that the results are not good enough, that it is too costly to create a linguist and then spend thousands with glossy companies who commodify language into bite size, inflexible chunks for rote learning. Your community will turn in on itself, each language group or specialism claiming superiority over others, competing for resources and tearing itself to shreds.

But you have skills.

You are the one that can see the learning potential in a video clip, an image, an article. You can take that inspiration and assimilate it into an engaging and exciting learning opportunity. Not a dull, dry text-book which will be obsolete as soon as its published. You can inspire your students to create, to write blog posts, to share and socialise with speakers of other languages. You can navigate social media to connect to the latest on any theme and contribute to the discussion.

You have a craft. Join the #OEP movement and become part of a community of language teachers who perfect their craft and learn from each other.


Signifies that I create and share teaching resources under Creative Commons licences. Image created @mearso Kevin Mears.

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