Working in a modern LTO

Aleksandra Philippova,

Head-teacher “Language for success”, Cheboksary

April 2020

Among different educational establishments today such as schools, universities,
colleges, kindergartens, technical schools and so on there are also Language Teaching
organizations. Their number is increasing year on year. In our city alone there are
around 10 of them. Some are smaller, others bigger, but they are all united by their
passion for teaching foreign languages. On top of this, they also give lessons in
Russian and Chuvach, Arts, Maths, Physics, Drawing, Singing, the list goes on. They
teach people of different ages, from preschoolers to senior citizens. Indeed it is never
too late to learn something new! And of course it is never too early to start! For
preschoolers, who absorb everything like sponges, there are foreign language classes
as well as lessons of speech therapy and preparing for school.

In some Language teaching organizations (like ours) there are also
psychologists, who provide assistance and guidance in resolving personal, social, or
psychological problems and difficulties for children and their parents.

LTOs also teach English for different professional purposes, like IT, engineering,
medicine, marketing and business communication, advertising, tourism and so on.

So what do you need to be if you want to work in an LTO?

First of all you should be a university graduate in languages. Obviously, being a
proficient user of foreign languages is essential in the work of a teacher of foreign
languages. Teachers with an excellent command of 2 foreign languages are even more
welcome. Employers look at your diploma, but they may also require an international
proof of your qualification. It means that you will need to pass an international exam like
IETLS, CAE or CPE or TOEFL. If you are going to specialise in teaching languages for
professional purposes, you may need to pass a professional exam like BEC (Business
English certificate) or get a proficiency qualification such as ILEC (International Legal
English Certificate).

Secondly you need to know the language teaching methodology. This is of
course taught within your University degree course and we as employers are happy to
see that after finishing the university you are aware of the basic principles of teaching
foreign languages. However practice shows that it is not enough. Methodology is a
rapidly developing science and in order to be up-to-date teachers themselves are
forever students. This is what we call CPD (Continuous Professional Development).
This includes peer observations, attending weekly methodological meetings within LTO
and attending professional conferences. After gaining some work experience a teacher
sees what age group he or she is the most comfortable with and after realising it this
teacher might feel the need to know more about this age group and how to teach them
more effectively. Thus the teacher is enrolled on a training course that specialises in
teaching a certain age group. Our teachers take courses on how to teach preschoolers,
for example the well known Valerya Mesheryakova’s courses “I can sing” and “I can
speak” and the British Jolly Phonics course.

There are various international qualifications for teachers of foreign languages
like TESOL, TEFL, CELTA, DELTA and TKT. TKT is a teaching knowledge test that all
the teachers working in “Language for Success” pass. It consists of 5 modules: Module
1 — Backgrounds to language learning and teaching, Module 2 — Lesson planning and
use of resources for language teaching, Module 3 — Managing the teaching and
learning process, Module CLIL — Content and language integrated learning, Module YL —
Young learners.

Thirdly and ideally a teacher in the Language Teaching Organization needs to be
hardworking and patient, and should work on their creativity and ability to make
students feel at ease in the classroom whilst also enthusiastic to learn.
We live in a VUCA world. VUCA stands for volatile, uncertain, complex,
ambiguous. To be able to live in this world we need to be Agile. Being agile means
being adaptable, resistant, prepared to live in a VUCA world. A perfect example of being
an Agile teacher is reacting to today’s situation provoked by the new virus COVID — 19.
Although we were hearing stories about the virus it was within a sudden 24 hours that
the teachers of our language school were forced to change their way of teaching
dramatically. Instead of traditional classes all of a sudden they were obliged to start
teaching their groups of students remotely. It took them a certain degree of agility to
adapt to this change so quickly.

To sum up here are some practical ideas for you while you are still studying:
Learn languages as best you can. Ludwig Wittgenstein said: “The limits of my
language are the limits of my world”. So do not limit your world.
Take interest in different teaching approaches, methodologies, styles.
Work on your personality, develop yourself, improve yourself, update and
upgrade yourself. The more skills you have — the better.