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Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor,

I read the article Education pros cast doubts on plan to train newcomers to teach English
Haaretz [June 20, 2008 by Cnaan Liphshiz ] with great interest, especially since I have personally studied with each of the people quoted in it.

I came to Israel and began teaching English in 1967. My Hebrew was minimal. However, the kids were DIFFERENT. First of all, they had been taught respect for their teachers, so classroom management was not the issue like it is now. Today kids disturb, don't do homework, don't seem to care AND if/when you complain to the principal and/or parents, you are stonewalled. You are told that YOU have to solve your own problems. The principals receive money for each BODY enrolled. Parents don't instill respect for teachers/teaching. Why should a new teacher burn him/herself out trying to cope for a minimum wage and no backup?

Another issue is the requirement of the syllabus. I graduated college and taught highschool English in Chicago. Native speaker American English teachers don't LEARN grammar, it is intrinsic for them. They don't have to deal with/teach 'present perfect' for example when they teach abroad. It's a 'given'. Here, however, the teacher has to teach tenses [which makes him/her tense] AND deal with classroom management. Many Americans, like myself, never learned the difference between past simple and present perfect or between past simple and past perfect. Nobody said anything: we spoke/wrote and it was like everybody else THERE. Therefore, the new immigrant teacher is faced with problems that teaching seminars don't deal with.

In my opinion, if the Board of Education wants new teachers to stay, there will have to be a total about-face in how these [and ALL] teachers are treated by the public. Parents no longer respect teachers and this attitude is absorbed by and transmitted [like a virus] to their children. If I were a new teacher today, I too would burn out quickly and leave the system. No respect, a low salary, a sense of running a rat race day in and day out, no ability grouped classes, overcrowded classrooms, problematic children in regular classes, no prior knowledge of how to deal with dyslexic students: why should a new teacher stay? The new immigrant English teachers I have spoken with agree with me; they go on to hi-tec and other places where they can earn double and not have the daily hassle of classroom management.

In my opinion [and with over 43 years teaching experience in Israel......and I am STILL teaching], as long as things continue as they are, new teachers will burn out and leave. You know the expression TOO MANY CHIEFS AND NOT ENOUGH INDIANS. Well, the Indians need to have their very real problems addressed and the chiefs can't just sit and point fingers and expect things to be done. Let THEM get back into the field and only then will they experience the day to day problems faced by hopeful, but soon to be disillusioned, new immigrant teachers!

I haven't even touched on the subject of textbooks which have become so commercial. I'll leave THAT topic for another day.

Yours, Phyllis Oded

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