Unlike most of the benefits that a language school can provide for its teachers, academic support is surely the one benefit that cannot be measured in dollars and cents, pounds and pence or any other currency for that matter. Because of this, the availability of academic support is often overlooked by many applicant teachers when applying for a teaching job. Admittedly, the tangible benefits offered by Language Link are important (competitive salary, company provided housing, health care, paid time off, full visa support and so forth); that said, the value of academic support should never be underestimated.
In many ways and in many schools, the provision of academic support is a lot like ‘the weather’. Everybody talks about it, but nobody does anything about it. At Language Link, though we bow to the verity of this dictum with regard to the weather, the delivery of a sound programme of academic support goes well beyond talk. That said, what exactly is academic support?
First of all, academic support has different meanings to different teachers. For some, especially newly qualified EFL teacher, academic support is the availability of someone trained to assist teachers with the preparation of lesson plans; someone who can offer ideas and suggestions for improving a lesson and/or making it more communicative in its approach to language teaching.
For other teachers, especially those who have experience teaching English as a foreign language, academic support also refers to the availability of a library of supplementary books and materials which, when used to enhance the effectiveness of a lesson, makes the job of the teacher easier and the delivery of a lesson more professional.
In truth, academic support goes well beyond this. Academic support usually takes two forms. The first, referred to as teacher development, refers to anything that a language school does to assist its teachers to further develop the skills which s/he already possesses as a result of prior training. By way of example, most training schools teach their trainees how to elicit language, drill students, do error correction and use any number of other language teaching tools. In that the total number of course hours spent doing this is limited, it falls to the language school to assist their newly hired teachers to further develop these language teaching skill.
At Language Link, teacher development usually occurs in two ways. First, teachers are expected to attend a series of monthly workshops and seminars whose goal is to assist teachers to further develop and hone their teaching skills. These workshops have been developed based on the perennial needs of previous Language Link teachers. They include such areas as,
- Classroom Management
- Teaching Young Learners and Teens
- Teaching Individuals
- Presenting Grammar
- Using Video in the Classroom
- Using Coursebooks and Supplementary Materials for FCE/CAE Exam Classes
To enhance our workshop training programme and to allow our teachers the opportunity to tryout the techniques and tools learned during the inset programme, all teachers are regularly observed by qualified teacher support staff (directors and assistant directors of studies, etc) and given observation feedback and recommendations for improving their classroom performance.
The delivery of academic support also takes a second form and that is the provision of teacher training programmes. Unlike teacher development, teacher training involves the learning of a new set of skills which the teacher has not yet been exposed to or has had only limited exposure to. Such training usually takes the form of training courses which, when completed, result in the award of a certificate attesting to the newly acquired skill set.
At Language Link, courses leading to advanced certificates in teaching business English (CeBELT) and FCE and CAE exam preparation are periodically run throughout the year. In addition, all teachers have the opportunity to acquire the three Cambridge University validated Teacher Knowledge Test Certificates (TKT). Other courses are constantly being developed and run by our team of academic managers.
So if the provision of academic support means more to you than simply a discussion about the weather, then we invite you to browse though the pages of this section of our site. You have an opportunity to discover not just our academic support philosophies and programmes but also the academic managers who believe in and deliver them.