Part of my professional development plan for this school year is, for the first time, to learn how to teach.

I kid, I kid. When I first arrived in Korea in 2004, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the tender age of 27, I attended a specialized training program at a university, which was actually pretty useful for me. Up to that point, I had been teaching web scripting, database design, and software like Office and Photoshop for several years, and although I got good student and client evaluations, I had just cobbled together a theory of pedagogy. Luckily, between those university-sponsored workshops and a very good, highly experienced supervisor at my first hakwon, I learned how to teach more systematically. By the time I left my joyous, wonderful, so-so-awesome university gig in 2012, I felt pretty confident in my teaching acumen.

Jump to 2014. I’m a newbie in a university English prep program in Istanbul. Nearly all of my coworkers have, at the least, a CELTA. A good number sport DELTAs or MAs in related fields. I’d never been around so many eminently qualified professionals. While I never doubted that I could teach, and teach effectively, I realized that I could benefit from more education on education. Plus, having more qualifications would enhance my résumé. Never neglect your résumé.

Initially, I considered working on a CELTA. As chance would have it, though, our director of development offered a few of us the chance to do the ICELT – Cambridge’s In-Service Certificate of English Language Teaching – at my university, for a pleasantly reduced cost. Did I consider the various pros and cons, weighed the alternatives, investigated the curriculum, evaluated the training providers, or any sort of due diligence?

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The ICELT is not nearly as well-known as its siblings, the CELTA and the DELTA. It’s purpose is a little different, naturally. The underlying idea is that teachers who are currently established in their career will take the course to learn new skills and practices, and gain deeper understanding of the theories underpinning their pedagogy. It places a heavy focus on self-reflection and peer observation. CELTA, by contrast, is aimed more at new language teachers, while DELTA is for experienced teachers who will assume roles of greater responsibility within their department, teacher trainers, or those who want more prestigious positions without getting an MA.

Over the coming weeks and months, I will share some of the insights I glean from the program. Next week, I’ll talk a little about task-based learning and presentatio-practice-production. Later, we’ll look at lesson planning, the role of observations, and much more. Stay tuned!

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