No more English tests for foreign teachers

When I was studying accountancy, I struggled really badly with Statistics. I had a hard time grasping some of the concepts. Because I wasn’t terribly mathematically minded, I needed a really good tutor to help me across the line.

My tutor was a young Cambodian guy. Absolutely lovely young man, but I could not understand a word he said. The classes were a nightmare, and I ended up having to repeat the subject twice before finally gaining a pass mark.

Now, this was at a tertiary institution, where the students are older and much more capable of independent study. While tutors are always important, the quality of the tutors is probably less so in a tertiary institution than in a school but I still did not pass that subject until I found a tutor who could speak English and could explain the underlying concepts of the subject we were studying.

Stuff reports: quote.

A review of language requirements for foreign teachers is now underway*. It coincides with proposals to loosen immigration requirements to bring hundreds of primary, secondary and pre-school teachers into New Zealand next year.

Some in the sector say the changes are necessary to plug a chronic teacher shortage, while others cautioned that all teachers need to be able to read and write English well – whether they were trained here or abroad. end quote.

This is madness. Teachers who do not speak good English are no use to our kids. Why on earth is this even being considered? quote.

“There have been conversations in the sector around a number of people thinking that, as it stood, it was a really difficult assessment,” New Zealand Educational Institute (NZEI) president Lynda Stuart said. end quote.

This is a bad idea. We will attract a large number of teachers from non-English speaking countries who will be no use to our schools at all. This will be a travesty for the children that they teach. Believe me, I know. quote.

At present, overseas teachers from non-English speaking countries need to score a level 7 in all sections of the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) to gain certification from the Teaching Council and work as a qualified teacher. Prospective teachers can get a waiver if they can prove all their education was in English.

The council was now reviewing its language requirements to make them “more tailored to the teaching environment and to all cultures”, a spokeswoman said. end quote.

What do we mean by ‘all cultures’? Kids still have to be taught in English, no matter what they are studying. Even if they are learning Japanese, they still need a teacher that can explain things in English. Otherwise, they will simply never learn anything. quote.

Taranaki early childhood teacher Ursula Visagie will resit her IELTS next month.

Although Visagie taught at an English school in South Africa and studied her bachelor’s degree in English, she is required to pass the IELTS because her schooling was bilingual – English is one of 11 official languages in South Africa.

She scored 8.5 on the listening, speaking and reading sections of the test last month, but fell short with a score of 6.5 on the writing section.

“What I really think is that the council should lower the score for writing,” Visagie said.

“I feel writing essays is not part of my teaching career in early childhood education, so why should it be compulsory to get a score of 7?” end quote.

They don’t teach preschoolers to write anything at all then? I don’t believe that and if you can’t write proficiently in English, you should not be teaching anyone here, no matter what ages the children are.

If you can’t write proper English, how are you going to manage the Maori part of the curriculum that is mandatory in all preschools these days? quote.

Changes to the language policy are expected to take effect early next year.

Early Childhood Council chief executive Peter Reynolds has pushed for more urgent action.

The test was especially unfair on teachers entering Pasifika immersion preschools, he said.

“You get [people] who go through student teacher training and then they’re confronted with the IELTS system when Samoan is their native language.” end quote.

Sorry, but no. Samoan is not an official language in New Zealand. If it is taught in schools, the teachers still need to speak English proficiently, for the benefit of those children who are not Samoan and those children who are Samoan still need to learn to speak English, if they are going to live here.

There may be a teacher shortage, but bringing in teachers who are not proficient in English is not the way to solve it. When I think back to my Statistics tutor, working with him was a waste of time. It will be much worse for school students, who rely more heavily on quality teachers than do tertiary students. This will just drop the standards in schools even further. But there may be one – just one – silver lining. If the teachers don’t speak good English, maybe they will be less effective in brainwashing our children into believing that socialism is the one true way to live. That is, quite honestly, the only good thing that I can see coming out of this.


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Accountant. Boring. Loves tax. Needs to get out more. Loves the environment, but hates the Greens. Has been called a dinosaur. Wears it with pride.

To read my previous articles click on my name in blue.

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