As English continues to dominate spheres of international business, travel and communication, the imperative to have a significant grasp on the vagaries of the language is now more important than ever. Increasingly, governments in emerging economies – particularly in Asia and South America – are prioritising education in general and, in many cases, the English language in particular. Many countries in South East Asia, for example, are now looking to insist that their teachers not only have a sufficient linguistic background in order to teach English, but also carry appropriate qualifications which apply specifically to the practicalities of classroom teaching rather than merely possessing knowledge relating to pedagogical theory. This is not to diminish education degrees in this region, but simply to point out that ministries and other government organisations are beginning to understand the benefits which exist when their teachers are exposed to significant amounts of practical training in the field of ESL / EFL.
The plethora of TEFL and TESOL courses now available in South East Asian countries is indicative of a marked increase in demand by local teachers who wish to up-skill or who are entering the industry and realise the need for a competitive edge. For instance, the Thai Ministry of Education is increasingly demanding that local teachers in its state schools gain a TESOL qualification in addition to a Bachelor’s degree in education. The net effect of will be to increase the classroom competence (and perhaps salary) of the local teacher but also reduce the need to employ so many native speaking teachers. This will raise the level of language instruction across the board by insisting that both local and foreign teachers have the requisite knowledge and skills to perform effectively in the language classroom.
In addition, it is clear that the supply of native speaking teachers cannot keep up with the demand for English language instruction. Now more than ever, then, there is the need to have highly trained local ESL / EFL teachers in the classrooms of state schools. This will mean that certificate courses such as CELTA and other TESOL / TEFL training courses will eventually become more popular amongst non-native speakers who meet the language requirements for these types of courses. The question is, can the general public be weaned off the idea that their children must be exposed to native speaking teachers or will parents and language learners eventually accept the fact that there are not enough native speakers to go around and that perhaps local teachers with high English language proficiency coupled with a certificate in TESOL can, in all likelihood, produce as good or better results than what they are currently getting.