The weekly column
Article 78, October 2001
The Advanced Teaching Certificate - A Proposed Framework
for Continuing Development in EFL
Central School of English, London
What is the Advanced Certificate?
As yet it is just an idea, but I think it is one that
should be of interest to schools, teachers, teacher trainers, exam boards
and the EFL world in general.
The idea is to provide an internationally recognised
post-certificate, in-house training package that is externally verified
and certified, to give teachers credit for what they do to improve the
way they do their jobs. I'll explain what I mean in more detail, but first
I'd like to examine...
Why is it needed?
Basically, a new structure for continuing development
is needed mainly because of a widespread dissatisfaction with the Diploma
as it stands being used in the way it is. Frequently heard criticisms
are that it is stressful, that time spent on the course can often be at
the detriment of a teacher's lessons, that most people taking the Diploma
get out of classroom teaching as soon as they can, and that it does not
cover any of the things that these people go on to do such as teacher
training and EFL management. I would add to these a feeling that I would
not be too keen to employ a teacher on the Diploma as the school often
has little to gain from it, at least until it is finished. There also
seems to be a widespread feeling that it falls a bit between the stools,
being neither sufficiently theoretical nor sufficiently practical, and
perhaps that it is even becoming intellectually devalued in the role the
new DELTA is taking on to provide more and more Diploma qualified teachers.
The idea of the Advanced Teaching Certificate is to provide
a largely stress-free method of teacher development after just one years'
teaching, providing schools with a large number of teachers who show and
gain from a desire to continue developing and teaching. It would also
allow teachers to gain credit for activities in teacher training, administration
and EFL management. The Diploma would then be free to concentrate on what
should surely be its role- giving teachers who are interested a deeper
understanding of the things they are doing, be that a theoretical one
or not, as teachers would no longer feel pressurised into doing the dip
for the wrong reason or at the wrong time.
What exactly would the course consist of?
Firstly, people taking the course will not be expected
to write essays- even of the practical sort asked for in the DELTA. Nor
will there be pass/ fail lesson observations. The two criteria for course
tasks will be:
- The things they will do will be the sort of things
they could go on to do in their actual EFL career
- The things that are produced will be of immediate
practical use to the school they are working for
Writing that could fit in with these criteria could be:
- materials for school resource files or the school
- guidance for school procedures (e.g. level testing),
- reviews of new materials (possibly just as a completed
form or notes),
- things published in the EFL press,
- worksheets for a CELTA course
Observations that would fit the bill would show:
- an ability to experiment and use new materials (as
there is no fail there will be no reason to do an old favourite for
an observation- surely a pointless exercise),
- an ability and willingness to reflect and improve
(perhaps asking the observer to come in and observe a polished up version
with another class),
- peer observations with observation tasks completed
and serious, useful feedback given to the person being observed
- In school workshops, perhaps based on a book of supplementary
activities in the teachers' room
- Teachers' admin meetings
In order to achieve any of the above, teachers will need
to do a certain amount of reading of EFL books, magazines and web-sites
and attend regular in-house and external training .There is great flexibility
in what they choose, however, as long as it helps them in the aims of
stretching themselves and directly affecting their teaching
How long would it last?
The course would be in modular form and last anything
from one to three years. Teachers could start it after one year of full
time teaching in their chosen field (general adults/ children/ business).
How would it be administered?
The course would be mainly run within the school, providing
a structure within which the Director of Studies could organise teacher
development within his/ her school. Should more than one school want to
team up for workshops, peer observation etc. this should be easy to arrange.
In order to provide an internationally recognised certificate, however,
there will need to be an external controlling body. This body should be
able to remain reasonably small and unbureaucratic due to the fact that
they are not checking if anything passes or fails, but simply if it is
being undertaken with the right attitude of self-discovery and experimentation.
Also, the Director of Studies has everything to gain from a teacher completing
coursework well, as this is material of immediate use to the school decided
on between the director and the teacher. Finally, the cost of registration
could be kept down by requiring senior staff on schools involved to provide
some outside evaluation of other schools' Advanced Cert courses. I see
no reason why the total cost should be more than a couple of hundred pounds,
probably split between the teacher and the school.
What do I have to gain?
As a teacher, you will gain an internationally recognised
certificate to show for all your effort, effort you may well be putting
in now. It should also boost your efforts, if you have more good intentions
than self-motivation like myself. You should also have gained a whole
range of experience in different parts of EFL and have gained some idea
of what you want to do next. If that includes the Diploma (which I do
recommend, see )it will be because you are genuinely interested in
what it has to offer; and you should have gained the experience and self-confidence
to make the whole thing a much easier and more rewarding experience. On
a less idealistic note, you will be infinitely more employable (see below).
As a school, you will be able to employ teachers who
are interested in improving themselves and your school. And when they
finish you will have a bunch of experienced teachers ready to move into
other positions in your company as they become available, as well as bulging
files in the teachers' room. You will also be able to use your affiliation
to this qualification as a sign of quality to set you apart from other
less professional schools, perhaps as a overseas equivalent of 'British
As the scheme becomes more widespread, you will also
have a good way of judging the quality of experience of the teachers who
apply for jobs in your school. As a Director of Studies, what I wanted
to know when interviewing teachers was if they knew their way around the
teachers' room resources, whether they had been working in a quality school
with regular training and observations, and whether they had a critical
but positive attitude to the use of textbooks and other materials. I wanted
a teacher who wanted to and would know how to contribute something to
the school apart from their classroom time. Occasionally, I was looking
for someone who I could train up into a more senior position. If the interviewing
teacher had an Advanced Teaching Certificate I might think I was on the
right track for all of the above.
As a Director of Studies, you will have a structure within
which you can put together continuing development in your school. Rather
than this meaning you taking lots of workshops and meetings, you will
be doing the much more satisfying job of training other people to do them.
Much the same thing goes for observations. The external body organising
the Advanced Cert would be able to support you in this role, and no doubt
a wide range of conferences etc. would soon spring up over time. Your
role within this organisation to go round to other schools could also
provide valuable ideas. The whole experience may well provide a means
for yourself or your school to move into teaching the Cert and/ or Dip
As a teacher trainer on the Cert or Dip, you will have
the pressure taken off you to make an expert teacher in 4 weeks or accept
someone onto the Diploma who is patently unready or only interested because
they think it will a route out of classroom teaching (it happens!).
Making a start
Hopefully, whatever your position in EFL you have found
something in here that makes you think something can and should be done,
if not exactly what I have suggested. If so, this could be the start of
something big. It is, however, early days. What is needed is an open,
honest and LOUD exchange of ideas. So, please use every forum you can
to change this germ of an idea into a debate, and then hopefully into
a finished idea and finally a reality. I'd be very pleased to hear your
comments myself at firstname.lastname@example.org
 Article 'How was the Dip?- a personal reflection
on the DELTA', Alex Case ,tesl.net , September 2001
About the author
Alex Case has 6 years' experience as a teacher, teacher
trainer and Director of Studies in Turkey, Thailand, Spain and the UK.
He is currently back full-time in the classroom and enjoying it more than
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