Graeme Paton, Telegraph (London), October 28, 2013
Figures show an increase in the number of school teachers who are going back to the classroom to get a qualification in TEFL–teaching English as a foreign language.
Teachers are paying for extra evening classes and weekend courses to enable them to deal with a surge in the number of children who speak English as a second language, research suggests.
The number of classroom teachers gaining qualifications in “English as a foreign language” has increased by as much as 77 per cent in just a year, it emerged.
In most cases, teachers are paying for lessons from their own pocket to enable them to adequately cater for pupils who speak other languages in the home.
The disclosure follows the publication of figures showing that record numbers of children in state schools do not have English as their mother tongue.
In the last academic year, more than one million children were officially registered as speaking other languages such as Bengali, Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Somali, Portuguese, French and Polish in the home.
One-in-five pupils in primary education speak English as a second language. In some parts of inner London, native English speakers are now in a minority, with the proportion as low as a quarter in boroughs such as Tower Hamlets, Newham and Westminster.
New research by i-to-i, an educational company, shows that rising numbers of classroom teachers are now seeking additional qualifications in TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) to “improve the learning experience” of pupils in their classes.
James Jenkin, the organisation’s academic director, said: “We’ve seen a surge in demand over the last year from qualified teachers looking to teach English as a second language students in UK classrooms.
“In an area heavily populated with students who speak English as a second language, having no training in teaching these students is detrimental to their education and potentially to the teacher’s career.”
The company surveyed people on its TEFL course between May and August this year.
It found that 117 of the 361 students were existing classroom teachers. This compared with 66 at the same stage a year earlier.
It emerged that around half of the qualified classroom teachers on this year’s course lived in London, which has the largest number of children speaking other languages.
Of those teachers taking courses in TEFL, which typically cost up to £299, and are not funded by schools, 89 per cent said they did it to “improve the learning experience of their English as a second language students”.