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A Teacher Reborn

Qasir Shah Qasir Shah has taught EFL in China, Japan and Taiwan. He has also taught ESOL Skills for Life courses for private training providers and Slough Council, and is currently an ESOL Lecturer in an FE college. He completed his Masters in Adult Language, Literacy and Numeracy in 2014, and began his PhD in the Philosophy of Education, at UCL - Institute of Education in April 2015.

It was with a heavy heart and quite a lot of disgruntlement that I enrolled on a PGCE in January 2011. Why you may ask? Quite simply, I had completed my DTLLS (the generic teaching qualification) a year before, which had been quite a chore as I did not believe it would turn me into a 'better' teacher. I had already been teaching EFL/ESOL for 13 years and in addition I was qualified as an ESOL examiner, so was rather resentful at being forced to do DTTLS. However, I had little choice because it was the latest qualification requirement in the government's drive towards 'professionalising' teaching in the Lifelong Learning Sector.

The most dispiriting fact about DTTLS was that at my college only the generic diploma was offered, without the ESOL specialisation. Consequently I knew that afterwards I would still need to do an extra year to gain the specialist qualification, which was now an essential requirement to remaining gainfully employed, and so I plodded through the DTTLS, doing the minimum that was required to pass.

The PGCE After two years of toil I was faced with the prospect of another year's study but was unable to enrol for the ESOL subject specialism at another college because of work scheduling issues. This forced me look for alternatives that would suit my working hours. The Institute of Education seemed an attractive proposition because of the possibility of converting the PGCE into a Masters in the second year, if I so wished. Little did I realise this step would change my life for ever.

I thought the PGCE would be a doddle because I presumed - wrongly - that it would be quite similar to the DTTLS, covering a lot of the same ground, and I expected my DTTLS assignments would come in handy. In fact, the PGCE was far more challenging, and opened up completely new areas of specialist study. Whilst doing the PGCE I would sometimes look back at what I had written (or should that be 'cobbled' together) to pass the DTTLS, and I felt quite ashamed… but then for the DTTLS, I was only interested in passing. Bar the lesson observations, the PGCE turned out to be an enjoyable experience - I enjoyed being a student again.

Discovery of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) During the PGCE I came across CDA, a theory which had great impact on my thinking both as a person and as a teacher.

What is CDA? (It) “is a type of discourse analytical research that primarily studies the way social power abuse, dominance, and inequality are enacted, reproduced, and resisted by text and talk in the social and political context. With such dissident research, critical discourse analysts take explicit position, and thus want to understand, expose, and ultimately resist social inequality.” (Van Dijk, 2003).

How did CDA help me? CDA made me reflect critically about the language of texts, how they may be formed socially and politically, and I began to think more about the following:


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