Op Ed

| June 30, 2004
Op Ed
Paul Robertson
From time to time we will present an Editorial Opinion written by one of the editorial staff or from selected submissions.

The field of SLA is rapidly changing. New theories are emerging that call into question well tried and tested beliefs. This forum allows Opinions to freely explore this changing area of Academic Study.


A Change in the TEFL Landscape
Theories on Second Language Acquisition are plentiful. Not so long ago the honorable likes of Jack Richards, Stephen Krashen, et al dominated the scene. Unless your work referred to them you clearly didn’t understand SLA. Times change and new faces have built upon these founding fathers of the EFL/TEFL industry. The Helgesens, Schalues, Oka’s, Lynchs are providing new practical theories for teachers to follow.

Universities across the globe are offering on-line courses for Ma in TEFL/TESOL etc. The fees are high, but the quality some universities offer reflects a TEFL age gone and the lack of understanding of those who teach EFL studies. Ma’ TEFL graduates are appearing across Asia with no understanding of the emerging cultural issues that are central and crucial to any language learning theory. Some publishers are churning out books as though a book that is acceptable for a student in Japan is acceptable for a student in Indonesia. This could not be any further from the reality. Across Asia teachers are being employed who possess no more than an ordinary degree, which is simply not appropriate. And across the globe we see an uncontrolled flood of TEFL certificate courses, some based on ‘get rich schemes’, others on theory and methodology. But it is beyond dispute the value of most TEFL certificates is being called into question.

The landscape has changed. What was read in the 1980’s SLA field has been built upon with cultural awareness, cultural compassion and understanding of the ‘other.’ The next 5 years will see major changes in the EFL/TEFL industry in Asia. Theories based on research that ignore the ‘other,’ the culture, the cultural complexities, should be filed in the dustbin of EFL history. The entity that develops a professional TEFL Master’s course or TEFL certificate that reflects changing values, emerging SLA theories, and a reflective Cultural component, will replace tired and worn out courses that currently exist.

It doesn’t take academic research to discover that people have feelings, compassion, and pride in one’s culture – but it does take wisdom and country specific experience to develop an academic SLA learning program that places these qualities at the forefront of a changing TEFL landscape.


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