Haiku Science Academy: Teaching English as an Additional Language

Originally published on HakeemAlexander.com as “Obtaining Teaching Credentials Through Documentaries“.

(Haiku Science Academy) Someone cannot reasonably doubt that you are a great teacher of some thing, when you can provide them with evidence that shows you in action, successfully doing the thing that they are considering to hire you to do.

I previously published some harsh criticisms of the international English teaching industry.

In “The Tower of Babbling Accents” I offered insight into the experience of multi-accent exposure, and word form recognition, leading up to my condemnation of standards and qualifications.

The contention I have with these standards is the fact that degrees of higher-learning, being a native speaker, and most certifications are in no way reliable signifiers of possessing the ability to successfully educate Speakers of English as an Additional Language.

Of course I stated “most” and not “all” accepted standards were unreliable indicators of competence. What follows is my knowledge of at least one qualification that is above board.

After that, I will outline how to obtain teaching credentials through documentaries. This is the foundation and framework of the Haiku Science Academy credential known as DEAL – Developing English as an Additional Language.

Cambridge and CELTA

For over 2 years, since being introduced to the international ESL industry, I have come to understand that one of the so-called “gold-standards” in certifications is called CELTA.

This certificate, offered by Cambridge, seems to be of a high caliber, and sets the bar pretty high for obtaining teaching credentials.

The CELTA website claims that it is

“The essential TEFL qualification that’s trusted by employers, language schools and governments around the world.”

I have no reason to doubt this. Actually, I have empirical, anecdotal evidence that this may be quite true.

While I have not yet contacted different “…employers, language schools and governments around the world.”, I personally know at least 2 persons who have attempted to obtain certification in CELTA.

One of them failed, and the other passed, and currently works in a prestigious, international school in China. This is interesting evidence in favor of the CELTA. My personal experience is as follows:

The person who failed the program has been terminated (fired) from at least 4 English languge schools (that I know of) in 2 countries. 3 terminations were before the CELTA attempt, and 1 after the failed attempt.

I demonstrated to the person who failed the CELTA my enormous success at being able to engineer positive results as an English teacher for various institutions, and provided documentation in the form of receipts, audio recordings, text documents, still images, and video.

I invited him to China where I knew of a company that was hiring, and even got him a room in my apartment by connecting to my housing agent. He moved in, and got hired by the company.

He asked for my help to improve his skills, but strangely, he dismissed all of my suggestions and recommendations out of hand, or failed to implement them in practice, and as a result, failed to make progress, and was once again fired.

On the other hand, the gentleman who passed the CELTA and holds the certification, has of this writing been promoted at least 3 times in his high-end employment.

In addition, he has published several teaching documents, at least one book for the institution, and is at this time producing an evaluation protocol for the school’s teachers.

On the CELTA website, there is a small blurb regarding the certification program labeled “Key facts” which states:

Format: Face-to-face or online, with teaching practice

Assessment: Written assignments and assessed teaching practice

This fits with the description I got from my successful associate when I sent him a message a few days before this writing, to ask if he, or anyone he knew had the CELTA credential.

He replied:

“Most people on YouTube say it’s ‘intense’ but don’t actually define what ‘intense’ means.

It just means a LOT of work to be done in a short period of time.

Helps develop a thick skin… you have to teach 8 lessons in the month, and immediately after those lessons, sit in a room while your peers criticize every aspect of your lesson.

You also have to turn in 3 graded essays.”

I have taught up to 120 lessons in one month, and I can still agree that teaching 8 lessons in one month is quite intense. This would especially be the case for a newbie.

Hands On Documentaries

I have been teaching a variety of subjects for over 15 years, and have paid close attention to what is required of me to be an outstanding presenter who successfully transmits knowledge.

Conversely, I have been awarded numerous certifications that have provided me with very little in regards to successfully teaching or providing the service indicated by the document.

Making Documentaries

Someone cannot reasonably doubt that you are a great teacher of some thing, when you can provide them with evidence that shows you in action, successfully doing the thing that they are considering to hire you to do.

When I wrote about “Developing Appropriate Qualifications“, I considered several options for someone who desires to teach that would be irrefuteable when completed appropriately.

What I know to be one of the most relevant qualifications, independent from the conventional standards is having [2-years or more ofexperience teaching English in the classroom successfully.

By successfully, I mean that not only is the teacher recognized, commended, and even provided references by their employer and co-workers;

But more importantly, that the teacher can provide documentation in the form of lesson plans, audio, and/or video recordings (AV), recorded demonstrations of student’s English speaking competence (results), testemonials from students; and where applicable, from their parents, employers, and primary educators.

The key points are

  • Experience teaching
  • References and
  • Documentation

My requirements for what are considered to be reliable documentation goes beyond just have a signed and sealed piece of printed material.

I am very specific in requiring …documentation in the form of lesson plans, audio, and/or video recordings (AV), recorded demonstrations of student’s English speaking competence (results).

At this stage in development, the Developing English as an Additional Language (DEAL) Certification requires the following documentation.

  1. 9 video recordings of the DEAL Certification Candidate teaching English lessons of no less than 45 minutes in length, and no more than 55 minutes.
  2. 9 Lesson Plans and / or scripts in text form to accompany the recorded video lessons.
  3. 9 research papers of no less than 450, and up to 1,000 words on the subjects of listening to English, speaking English, reading English, writing English, etc. … TBD/TBA.
  4. 3 signed certificates from Students of English as an Additional Language (SEAL) that you have taught, [may be a student from one of your video lessons?].

The rationale for these specifications are manifold. A first explanation is that recorded video makes it nearly impossible to fake competence as a presenter speaking English.

Secondly, the accompanying lesson plans serve to assist the examiner in assessing the writing, logical, and organizational skills of the DEAL credential seeker.

Third, the research papers enforce that a base level of academic competence about the English language has been attained by the author, and

The signed certificates provide a point of reference from students who have benefitted from services rendered.

In a nut-shell, all of this work requires that a person actually BE a competent teacher with evidence / proof, instead of a wanna-be with a piece of paper that claims they are.

Further details are scheduled for release regarding the development of the DEAL Certification. This includes more precise instruction for the video production, and the composition of research papers, among other details and developments.

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