The TeachingEnglish team interviewed me about my views on ELT and teaching in Turkey.

1. What are the major challenges facing EL in your county?
People have become more aware of the importance of learning English in the last few decades. As a result, there has been a great demand for learning English. Private schools are overcome those challenges and state schools got left behind. In state schools, the curriculum, hours of lessons, objectives and materials are limited. There aren’t any English teachers or English lessons in many schools in Eastern Turkey. Some schools lack qualified teachers who don’t know about the new approaches and new trends in EL.
Children don’t start learning English at an early age at state schools. This is another challenge we are facing in Turkey.

Many of the teachers who teach English do not have a degree in English language teaching. Many have degrees in other subjects. People are under the impression that if you are a university graduate without a job and you can speak English, you can get a teaching certificate and that’s enough to be an English teacher.
We all know the new approaches and current ideas in ELT but still we are far away from giving up the traditional teacher-based approaches.

2. Are teachers in your company generally members of teachers’ associations?
There is one educational association in Turkey. It’s INGED. It stands for English Language Education Association. INGED is an associate of IATEFL and an affiliate of TESOL. It aims to bring English language educators from all levels of education in Turkey together. It offers professional development through workshops and seminars. It provides developmental opportunities through trainer training courses. There is also a forum where teachers can share their opinions.

There are other associations that fight for teachers’ rights and they carry political messages.

3. How well resourced are teachers in your country?
There are many resources that teachers can use such as text books, workbooks, audio and video cassettes, VCDs and DVDs, resource books, reference materials and many more. There are also many workshops being held that connects English teachers with English language education. The internet is a great source for English language teaching, but unfortunately, many teachers who teach in the urban areas don’t have those opportunities and it creates a big gap in the country.

4. What technology do you use with your students?
I’m a very lucky teacher. I’ve been working in a very well equipped school. We have all the facilities in our classes and our staff rooms. We have computers, LCD projectors, video cameras (if we need), CD and DVD players and internet in each of our classrooms.

5. What have you found most useful on the TeachingEnglish website?
The TeachingEnglish website always updates its resources. I enjoy reading articles and blog entries that bring educators together where they can express themselves, share their ideas and tell their stories about their experiences as teachers in different countries.

6. What classes do you teach?
I have been teaching kindergarten classes for three years. My students are 5 and 6 year olds.
I’ll start giving teacher training courses next semester.

7. What aspects of your teaching are you most interested in developing?
I’m very interested in Web 2.0 technologies and all the facilities it has offered us because Web 2.0 makes it easier for us to collaborate, create and share between users. It’s evolving and authentic. It has everything we need, to help our students in raising their awareness of autonomous learning. Our students have grown up online and our traditional education system does not satisfy them anymore. They have spent most of their free time discovering Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs and social networking. The use of Web 2.0 in our classes is still limited. I believe in the importance of integrating these tools in our curriculum. There are already many people who have been using these tools in the world. Although it’s a very new topic in Turkey, once people discover the charm of it, it will be very popular.

8. Why did you decide to become an English language teacher?
I decided to become an English teacher when I was 13. I was going to a state school and I didn’t like my first English teacher. She didn’t treat me well and my marks were not good so my parents sent me to an English course and I loved my course teacher. She was a wonderful person and a great teacher. We did so many different activities together. I simply fell in love with English and I wanted to be a teacher like her when I grew up.

9. What is the status of teachers in your country? Are they generally valued and well paid?
Unfortunately, teachers are not well paid in Turkey. There is again a big gap between state and private schools and not all the teachers in private schools are paid well.

10. What is the status of English in your country? Is it widely spoken to a good level?
More people believe in the importance of learning English nowadays. As a result, the new generation is learning English quicker than the old generation. One’s English level plays an important role in getting a job. This has changed many things and the new generation is motivated to learn English because they are the digital generation and everything digital is in English.

11. What have you learnt from being a teacher?
I’ve learnt that the best teaching methods are done by making your classroom comfortable and enjoyable for your students, teaching how to learn to learn, not repeating yourself and sharing your knowledge with others through your own words. I believe teaching is learning and being a teacher has been a way for me to be creative and humorous. It’s my way to tell my stories and enjoy my life.

12. What advice would you give to someone thinking of becoming an English teacher?
Love your job. Be patient. Be creative. Guide your students. Be a lifelong learner. Be flexible. Be a facilitator. Show affection. Set clear goals. Smile! And as Atatürk said:” Teachers: The new generations will be your devotion.”

13. Which writer/researcher has had the most influence over the way you understand learning and teaching?
There are so many, but I would like to name two people who have had the most influence on me as a teacher. One is the writer of the book “Don’t Bother Me Mum-I’m Learning”, Marc Prensky. All his articles have impressed thoroughly. The other one is Larry Ferlazzo who is a Web 2.0 phenomenon. I admire all of his work. I would like to thank to Electronic Village Online moderators who help me a lot on my way to become a better teacher and a “techie” person.

14. What most interests you about ELT at the moment?
As I mentioned above, I’m very interested in technology and Web 2.0 tools such as social networking, collaborative wikis, personal blogs, podcasts, feeding items and social bookmarking etc. I believe that integrating all these new generation technologies into our curriculums will help us to reach our students better. It’s very obvious that this is the wave of the future because the demands, the jobs and the understanding of competition are changing. As a result, education will change and develop. Our students will always be online and collaborate with this. 

15. How do you see the role of the EL teacher evolving over the 5-10 years?
English will be always important. Maybe approaches and methodologies will change, but the demand for English will increase everyday as it is increasing today. I believe technology will play a more important role in ELT; so teachers, students and teaching will be more e-based.

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