I suppose that the title of this post could have been a bit more snappy, but I’ve been on a training course for the last three days, so my brain isn’t really in gear for that.
I’m currently on a course to become an examiner of IELTS. That’s the International English Language Testing System for those not in the know, and it’s currently the standard universities in the UK require you to have to study as a non-native speaker of English. It’s also an entry requirement for visas for Australia and Canada, so sometimes native speakers have to take the IELTS test – but that’s another story.
Doing this examiner training, a number of things are coming to my mind, about the test and its surrounding bureaucracy and procedure, and the other people who are also training to become examiners.
First up: the secrecy of IELTS. This is weird. We are allowed to look at sample exam answers, and the criteria for grading them into different bands (graded from 1 to 9) but we can’t keep the worksheets and info sheets we use in the training session. Everything has to be handed back. I guess this is to do with the fact that IELTS is such a high stakes test – security of materials is paramount.
Second up, my colleagues on the training course. I think I am the only participant teaching what I’d call straight ESOL to adults. There’s one or two others who work in colleges but mainly with 16-18 students. The others (and we are 16 participants in total) are in private EFL institutions around the place.
I don’t really like the vibes I’m getting from these people, but maybe this is down to my impression of teaching as a still-fairly-new teacher. They’re looking to get into IELTS as a way to get away from teaching (or at least it seems that way to me). Comments they make about their teaching, students and centres/schools don’t seem positive. I say something to them about changing it up in their teaching. They ask me how long I’ve been teaching. ‘4 years’, I say. ‘Oh yeah, wait till you’ve doing it for ten years, then you’ll see’ they follow (I’m paraphrasing…).
True? I don’t ever want to feel even a little like that.
Anyway, stream of consciousness over. Looking forward to more about marking the writing tomorrow, and then back to teaching on Monday!