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Language teachers from Spain are being recruited to ease staff shortages

Discussion in 'Education news' started by TES_Rosaline, May 29, 2019.

  1. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

    What are your views on Spanish MFL teachers being hired by the DfE to help tackle the recruitment and retention crisis?

    ‘The Department for Education is working with the Spanish government to recruit modern languages teachers into English state schools.

    The DfE, which has failed to meet targets in teacher recruitment for secondary schools for the past five years, has announced the measure as part of its recruitment and retention strategy.

  2. yasf

    yasf Established commenter

    As long as they are aware of the quite big difference in term of ITT and approaches to teaching and learning, then why not?

    Let's hope they put some transition support for teachers and schools in place.
  3. eljefeb90

    eljefeb90 Senior commenter

    As long as they know what they are letting themselves in for. The system is so completely different in Spain. Teachers only mark tests and feedback amounts to a single word! Preparation amounts to following a course book and remembering what page you finished on last time. Those who don't pass their end of year exam need to re do the year..that is the sum total of differentiation.
    Behaviour varies but doesn't hit the depths encountered in the UK.
    I exaggerate a little, but not much. Spanish teachers do not have the external pressures of targets and Heads and Directors of Studies have far less power and are elected by the staff.
    Having said all this, I know several excellent Spanish native teachers who cope well in our (appalling) system.
    agathamorse and Idiomas11 like this.
  4. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    My only experience of Spanish teachers was a music teacher employed once by my school. She was a charming person. Unfortunately no-one (staff, pupils, parents) could actually understand a word she said!
  5. MrMedia

    MrMedia Star commenter

    The research shows that there are substantial transition issues for those who leave their family and cultures from other countries. To successfully acclimatise they often need to live in larger cities where elements of their culture and readily available transport hubs offer quick access to their support networks of friends and families.
    Those schools not in such locations will prove to be difficult hosts for such teachers.

    Before Gove's introduction of School Direct and explosion in SCITTs, trainees would habitually move around the country to take up ITT places and then stay in the area. Gove's reforms have reduced the migratory nature of the teacher population and thus areas now need to produce vastly more of their own teachers. If you are in an area that does not send many to university then you struggle more to convert them upon return into teachers.

    Parachuting in teachers from other countries isn’t getting to grips with the issue. Offer larger bursaries in the areas where teacher shortages are and the ITT population will migrate to those areas, train to teach and a proportion of those will stay in the area. Offer lower bursaries in areas that have a surfeit of teachers. However, that means more money going to deprived areas and less money going to affluent areas and with the tories in charge they won’t do that.
  6. colpee

    colpee Star commenter

    I don’t really get the OP question. Why should it matter if a teacher from another country teaches in this country?
  7. a1976

    a1976 Established commenter

    No, except if there was high unemployment in this country.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. blazer

    blazer Star commenter

    There isn't a teacher shortage in this country. There are something like a quarter of a million qualified teachers of working age who, for a variety of reasons, are not employed in schools. Many of these people are desperate to get a teaching job but schools will not take them on. Others refuse outright to work in the toxic environments that exist in many schools. Perhaps there are other ways to solve this crisis other than recruiting abroad?
  9. stonerose

    stonerose Occasional commenter

    agathamorse likes this.
  10. bertiehamster

    bertiehamster New commenter

    I think the issue is that we've been here before. In the "languages for all" years efforts were made to encourage FLA's to stay and teach-this was a hit and miss affair. Some were brilliant, but in my region of Britain anything foreign is frequently looked upon with suspicion, and these teachers had a rough time in too many schools. This isn't to say that it can't work very well, but as a solution it's desperately poor. The job needs major structural change, anything less is just dodging the issue.
  11. Idiomas11

    Idiomas11 Occasional commenter

    I'm sure that there are a great number of older, experienced MFL teachers who have been 'managed out' whose wisdom that I, a non native, newish MFL teacher (who is viewed with suspicion by virtue of being a Brit who can speak other languages) would appreciate... I have had many great native Spanish colleagues who have settled in various places, but mostly around big cities in the South.
    agathamorse, eljefeb90 and sbkrobson like this.
  12. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    I am a qualified languages' teacher (French with Spanish) and I have lived in those two countries three times, including teaching in a French private school. I think would-be teachers of languages from abroad (whether Spain or elsewhere) would face the following challenges:

    1. The lack of time given to languages - all candidates for the baccalaureate or bachiller must study two or one foreign languages respectively, without exception. The overall standard is lower than the equivalent A-level, but it does mean that virtually all educated people have a good knowledge of English and another language. In England, allotting even two hours to one language in Key Stage 3 is thought generous in some schools.

    2. The different approach - the approach to languages in France and Spain tends to be fairly grammatical and analytical, concentrating much more on the formal aspect of language, rather than a skills-based approach. French students, for example, study Shakespeare for the bac (which we sometimes think too hard for many native GCSE students). The more anarchic approach (even "approach" seems to give the communicative method too much coherence) generally used here often surprises or even shocks them.

    3. The lower status of teachers - in France (I am not sure about Spain), the teaching profession is largely self-regulating and there is no equivalent to Ofsted or league tables. Scrutiny tends to be quite informal.

    4. Difficulties with language - as the cliche goes, the English of many foreign-born speakers is often better than our countrymen's use of the tongue. I would not envy a newly arrived teacher's task of unpacking a strong local accent, whether from parent, pupil or SLT.

    I know a few native-born teachers who have flourished, but, funnily enough, they tend to be French or German.
    agathamorse likes this.
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It is not that it matters that a teacher is from another country.
    If somebody wants to teach from another country, hurrah.
    But in this case, drafting in Spanish teachers from Spain is a last ditch attempt to entice those to whom it probably would not occur to seek work in the UK. At the expense of those who can. It's not so much an overseas resentment, as a resentment of any plan to out with the old and in with the new. The cheaper new.

    The recruitment problem of languages teachers is the result of a self fulfilling prophecy. The perception of languages being hard, the perception of this from parents to children, the perception of them finding it hard leading to them, well, finding it hard. And in the longer term, exponentially fewer people qualifying in languages. Leaving nobody to teach it. Few who can. And those few now being beyond the pockets of many schools.
    And fewer schools wanting to encourage a course where results are consistently lower across the board than in other subjects, and this includes the tippetytop of top performing exclusive schools. The grades in languages are on average always lower than other grades.

    I could go on about other reasons for languages achievement being lower than in other subjects-but that is not this thread.

    By drafting in Spanish people to teach Spanish there is a fundamental cheapening of the need to learn languages effectively, a lack of acknowledgement from the top. It has been suggested in the hope that Spanishness will somehow rub off into a magical ability to speak the language. It wont. Whoever teaches Spanish needs to be versed in the MFL curriculum, in UK schooling, in the needs of English speakers in learning any other language, in the unique features of cough cough poor;y behaving classes.
    Just as you don't draft actors to teach drama, or chefs to teach food tech.
    You need teachers, not embodiments of the subject who do not necessarily know about teaching.
    If someone from Spain trains to do those things within a UK system, then great. If it gets results and it works with the kids, then great.
    But if it really is that great, why are those people not already here, seeking out those fulfilling lovely Spanish teaching posts in UK schools?
    If incentivising is happening, how do those more experienced and more expensive teachers of Spanish feel about it? The ones who really do know how to get the results because they have experience.
    There's the grumble.
    Many grumbles here.

    Edit-sorry some typos
    agathamorse and colpee like this.
  14. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    only a shortage of teachers willing to teach

    Where I am, there are frequently no qualified applicants at all responding to advertised vacancies.
  15. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    I don't get why this is news.

    40 years ago, we were taught by native speakers. Most of the language teachers in my current school are native speakers. Most of the language teachers who taught my children were native speakers.

    I would have thought this was entirely normal
    eljefeb90 likes this.
  16. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    It's not about getting Spanish people over to the UK, which are then trained here and teach here. It's specifically about having a program to recruit Spanish trained teachers over to the UK. (the US already does it.)

    I don't think that it's a bad idea per se, but the people who propose these things rarely think them through or understand what it is that teachers actually do.
  17. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    but that is exactly what has been happening for not just decades, but generations. Like I said, not news
  18. JL48

    JL48 Star commenter

    Almost all the native Spanish teachers I know did their training over here. Same with native French and German teachers.

    The recognition of EU teacher training is relatively recent, and most have much better Tc and Cs at home so wouldn't come over.
  19. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    well, that is certainly not what the Spanish trained teachers I know say
  20. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    A fair number of teachers I worked with over the years (French, German & Spanish) came originally to the UK as MFL assistants... and stayed, either because they met someone here, or just liked the country.

    Now post-Brexit, will the scheme that organises the recruitment of European students to come here, and UK ones to go abroad, still work...? And, with the increase in xenophobia (as exemplified even in some threads on TES), will so many wish to come here, or to come & stay? I wonder...
    JL48 likes this.

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