You've GOT To Be Kidding Me!

Discussion in 'Job Seekers' started by P Chang, Dec 18, 2014.

  1. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    After applying for a few ESOL positions a few days back, I contacted the schools today just to emphasis my interest and to see if there was anything else they needed from me aside from my resume and status of eligibility paperwork.

    While on the phone with the vice principle from one of the schools, I was asked what languages I spoke, to which I replied "Only English fluently, but I have some knowledge of Farsi, German, and Thai." To which she replied, "You do know this position is with a bunch of foreign speaking kids, right?" :eek: I told her "Yes" and that my Bachelor's degree is in ESOL. She asked if I was teaching now and I told her I wasn't, but that I was a M.Ed student. She then asked me to send her my resume and gave me her email address.

    Doesn't look promising. :lol:

    Why is there this misperception that and ESOL teacher must speak the native languages of all the ESOL students they teach? Am I expected to give the same lesson plan 5 different times in 5 different languages so the students in the class who have a collective 5 different native tongues all comprehend the material? :rolleyes:
     
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  3. vickilyn

    vickilyn Magnifico

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    Most common misconception under the sun! I had a principal tell me that I wasn't qualified because I didn't speak Spanish. I did not mince words when I told him my job was to teach English, not speak a foreign language, but he was convinced that all ESL teachers spoke Spanish. You can't make this stuff up - if the administrators don't understand the concepts, heaven help lay people!
     
  4. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Good heavens! One of my students speaks Uzbek, another speaks Somali. My ESOL counterpart does not speak either. That is not her job. How can a principal not know that?
     
  5. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    What happened to the regional manager job that looked so promising?
     
  6. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This misconception is probably the most common one when it comes to teachers of students learning English. You can read any number of threads here about how to work with LEP/NEP students and invariably there will be advice about translating stuff for students. It's just not best practice, at least not in any type of SIOP-based program.
     
  7. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    The person I spoke with was the vice principle. I'm half way temped to contact the school board and ask them how someone becomes a vice principle without knowing basic information regarding meeting the needs of the students at their school.

    Swansong...I was out of town for the past month doing the CELTA course and returned this past weekend. They called me yesterday to request various info from me (my DOE#, SSN, etc) so they could get the approval from the DOE for me to work as a sub. For the moment, that will be my position.

    As the company gets a foothold here, that is when I could possibly be moved up. I interviewed with the head of HR, and she initially mentioned putting me in a position over a group of substitute teachers...sort of a manager/coordinator. Later during the interview, she mentioned a regional manager position since the company would like to expand into the neighboring counties. However, the company would have to be regional before that happens, and as it stands, they're not yet regional in my area.

    So, I'll work as a sub, as will everyone else they're hiring, and just hope the rest pans out. There's not much I can do on my end other than be a good employee and see what manifests.

    No worries though...still have grad school and tutoring to keep me plenty busy. I'm not expecting to be offered any of the ESOL positions I applied for, but I thought interviewing for them would be beneficial. If, by some chance I was offered one of them, I'd take it, but I guess I'd first have to go out and obtain a degree in a foreign language so I could effectively teach English. :lol:
     
  8. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    Yep, agree with everyone, you do not need to speak the first language of the students. If you did, it would help you with communicating with the parents, but that's it.
    It's often recommended that you do not speak their first language, because teachers who do, often end up talking to students in their 1st language out of convenience, laziness, or frustration, which actually hinders their learning.

    The only thing you should have is have a basic understanding of their language, which you can easily look up. For example if you know what phonemes they do have or not have, or how their grammar differs from ours, you can anticipate some of their confusion and difficulties. But all that can be looked up.
    And the most important in my opinion, is to actually have a basic knowledge of their culture.
    The VP knows nothing, maybe you shouldn't work for her anyways.
     
  9. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    I just shot off a scathing email to the supervisor of the ESOL office for the county. Might not be a good idea to rock a boat that I'm not even in yet, but I'm not the type to let things such as this slide when they should be corrected. The way I look at it, I lost out on a job opportunity because I cannot speak a foreign language, which is not in the job description, and never will be.

    Maybe that will get me on some sort of blacklist and I'll never be hired as a teacher in this county. But at the very least, perhaps other ESOL teachers won't have to put up with such ignorance from people who should know better.
     
  10. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    Sometimes you just have to stand up for what is right.
     
  11. ktmiller222

    ktmiller222 Cohort

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    I'm not too familiar with ESOL but it's helping students speak English, correct? If so, why would the teacher need to speak in other languages?? The student probably hears that language when they are home. I don't think you going to the school board idea is a bad idea. Just because you are a principal/vice principal doesn't mean you have experience/knowledge in all subject areas.
     
  12. comaba

    comaba Cohort

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    Maybe I'm missing something, but I didn't interpret the vice principal's questions as meaning that you had to speak all those languages. It sounded more like a "Do you know what you're getting into?" question to me. Her request for your resume supports that, in my opinion.

    So, I think sending that email was a terrible idea.
     
  13. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    The tone of her voice when I told her I don't speak any other foreign languages told me all I needed to know. Further, why would she want to know if I knew what I was getting into? To teach ESOL I would have to be certified in that subject area, meaning I would need a degree or endorsement in ESOL. Wouldn't applying for an ESOL position mean I know what I'm getting into?

    The email I sent was to the supervisor in charge of the ESOL office for the county. I was polite and professional, but did not sugarcoat anything. While it may have been a terrible idea to send the email, I'm betting she will find the lack of knowledge of the administrator just as offensive as I did.
     
  14. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I don't think that sending an email was a good idea. Can you copy and paste it here?
     
  15. MacGuffin

    MacGuffin Companion

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    Speaking a foreign language can be a useful skill for teachers of all subjects, and it is usually on most applications. So if for example, with all else being equal, if you have two applicants for an ESL job dealing with mostly Spanish speakers, and one speaks Spanish and the other does not, sorry but the Spanish speaker is going to get hired. Complaining isn't going to get you hired any faster, obtaining some new valuable skills to differentiate yourself might.
     
  16. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    Sure...it's below. As I said, perhaps it wasn't the best of ideas, but I'm not one to sit idle when things like this go on. If ignorance is allowed to flourish, then those who witness it are just as culpable.
    ________________________________

    Dear Ms. So-and-So,

    My name is So-and-So and I am contacting you in regards to a conversation I had today with a Duval County public school employee. While discussing with her the available ESOL position they had available, I was asked what foreign languages I spoke. When I informed her I only speak English fluently, she asked if I realized the position involved "working with foreign speaking children." Her tone of voice when I told her I don't speak a foreign language told me all I needed to know in regards to my chance of being employed at that school.

    My obvious concern is that someone in a position to determine if I am employable as an ESOL teacher, as she is who I was forwarded to when I inquired about the position, believes I need to speak the native language of each ESOL student in my classroom. According to the Such-and-Such County Public Schools website, there are 20 non-English native languages being spoken by enrolled students. If the standard is for ESOL teachers to speak each of those languages, then there wouldn't be a single ESOL teacher in the county.

    I take my chosen profession seriously, and I take the need to support my family via my chosen profession just as seriously. To have been written off for a job because I do not speak a foreign language, especially when successful performance of that job does not require me to speak a foreign language, does not sit well with me.

    I wanted to make you aware of this incident because my hope is your office can do something about the misconceptions involving ESOL and ESOL teachers among the Duval County public school teachers and administrators.

    Thank you for your time. If you would like to discuss this further, I am available via email or at the telephone number listed below.
     
  17. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    For whatever reason, this reminds me of people who think they are qualified to teach English because they are native English speakers.

    BTW...all else is never equal.

    If anyone needs me, I'll be back after learning the 20 native languages spoken by the ESOL students in my county. ;) Yes...20...I looked it up.
     
  18. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    I have to agree. I don't think her "tone" should have influenced anything.
     
  19. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    To me, tone or not, the vice principal's question just sounds weird. If she wants to know if he knows what he's getting into, or is ready for it, call him for an interview, ask questions, and figure it out then. This sounds like she's already skeptical or tried to discourage him.
    You don't hear people ask applicants this at inner city schools.
     
  20. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    I've been declared qualified to teach ESOL by the Florida DOE. If I were not, I'd not be able to apply for the job. Thus, why would the hiring authority want to know if I know what I'm getting myself into? Wouldn't the fact that I have a qualification in the subject area imply that I do indeed know what I'm getting into?

    Tone has a lot to do with it. Go into work the remainder of this week and speak in a sarcastic tone every time you speak to your boss, then tell me tone does not play a part in how we communicate. ;)

    Oh...and she never requested my resume...I asked her if I could send it to her.

    EDIT:

    I cannot tell if I'm overreacting or if others are just underreacting. Maybe a bit of both. But, telling an ESOL teacher they have to speak the native language of their students in order to be effective is quite offensive.
     
  21. ktmiller222

    ktmiller222 Cohort

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    I think the vice principal should have been more professional. With another thought, your lucky you got to speak to someone about a job. Most principals/vice principals don't reply to emails or calls! Consider yourself (in a way) lucky!
     
  22. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    I tricked them...called during dismissal in which I knew all but the top administrators would be too tied up to take the call. :cool:
     
  23. SpecialPreskoo

    SpecialPreskoo Moderator

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    P Chang... ask for several version of Rosetta Stone for Christmas! :D
     
  24. ktmiller222

    ktmiller222 Cohort

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    Please let us know if you get any responses back. I would enjoy the entertainment. My money is on that they defend the vice principal!
     
  25. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    Way ahead of you...I already purchased all 20 versions that I'll need to learn in order to be qualified to teach in my chosen profession and am going to claim them as a business expense on my taxes. :lol:
     
  26. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    I'm thinking it's likely the email will be deleted soon after being read. At the most, I might get an empathetic email in response.
     
  27. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    FWIW, I work at a college and we have an ESL specialist who teaches English classes...she is Korean, but doesn't speak Korean, nor Spanish, which all of her students speak.
     
  28. MacGuffin

    MacGuffin Companion

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    Just giving you the reality of the situation, whether it be right or wrong. I have an ESOL endorsement and have taught the subject in the past. I just know my job prospects are reduced quite a bit around here in that field because my Spanish is poor.

    I don't think anybody expects you to be fluent in 20 languages, but for whatever reason they like you to be fluent in at least one common foreign language or they get turned off. One theory may be that if you haven't demonstrated you have a passion for language yourself by learning another one, and aren't personally familiar with what it takes to learn another language you might not be good at teaching a new language to others. Of course just a guess, who knows in this case, but I was on a hiring committee once and I know first hand stranger things certainly get discussed.

    Having all the right paperwork and credentials just insures your application doesn't get thrown out by HR, but after it gets past the gatekeeper you still need something that makes it stand out, however worthless you may think that 'something' is to the actual job you do.
     
  29. Linguist92021

    Linguist92021 Phenom

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    I think the OP stated that he speaks 2 other languages (at least), not fluently, but speaks it. Also looking at his resume it shows that he is probably the most culturally educated / experienced person they will ever find, so the VP was wrong to be so quick with that question.
     
  30. MacGuffin

    MacGuffin Companion

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    I'm not saying the OP is not justified to be upset in this particular situation, I'm addressing the more general idea that is is unfair to consider the foreign language skills of ESOL teachers. It may be unfair, but it is certainly the reality, so ok vent if you want, but after you're done you need to figure out how to get hired in that reality.
     
  31. SandyCastles

    SandyCastles Companion

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    It really is not necessary to speak the languages of the students, so yes the VP was wrong. I've taught ESL quite successfully at both elementary, with students of multiple languages, and to adults at community college to students from all over the world. I took Spanish when I was in high school, and I lived in the middle east for two years. I can understand a 'little' Spanish and even less Arabic. But I speak only English, which is the common language that all of the students are there to learn. The key is differentiating and using language learning techniques so that they can all learn the language. It would take an administrator who knew about language acquisition to understand this. Also, the district should hopefully have access to a translator, but if not, I have found that many of the parents have someone they know that they usually bring with them to help with translations when necessary.
     
  32. MikeTeachesMath

    MikeTeachesMath Devotee

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    It's my opinion that OP is jumping to conclusions re: the meaning behind what the VP said, since nothing was actually *explicitly* said by the VP to clarify what they meant by that comment.
     
  33. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    What the principal said was possibly out of ignorance. What the letter says is inflammatory and rude. Even if that principal is replaced, it is unlikely that administration is going to forget the written smackdown of one of their own, and would be reluctant to bring such a person into their ranks.
     
  34. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    As far as knowing what you're getting in to simply because you're certified is a bit of a stretch. Schools turn out education students every year who are certified but not ready. They don't know what they're getting in to. Teaching in the field is very different from field work in college. Not saying that's necessarily the case with you, just pointing it out.
     
  35. P Chang

    P Chang Companion

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    Got a reply from the woman I emailed and, as I thought, it was just an empathetic email explaining that not all in the district are familiar with ESOL. She also wrote that I'm right in that speaking a foreign language is not required for an ESOL teaching position.

    I'm not sweating any repercussions that may come my way. Worse comes to worse, I'll head over to the UAE and teach English to their military for $8k a month. They're looking for an ESL teacher with a security clearance, which I happen to have, and the only language I need to speak is English. :whistle:
     

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