I’m thinking about professional development, where the next years will take me. At the moment there is a lot of work to prepare for a few compact seminars, and more translation work for a client, so I’m not exactly unemployed. Still, having gone through the Trinity DipTESOL (still have to write up two papers, but apart from that I’m done!) and seeing my teacher colleagues working at schools makes me wonder: Should I go back to fulltime teaching? Try to become a DOS (director of studies)? Keep up my current motley collection of jobs? Or am I better at other things that I need to focus on to develop?

Transferable skills are what everyone talks about in job qualifications. So what transferable skills has an English trainer like me acquired in 13-14 years of experience? I can teach, I can write (in two languages), I can translate. But many newcomers compete for those very same jobs. I’d love nothing more than to work in a close-knit team, and am still hoping that I will find one that will have me.

One USP is my ability to put it all together for specific clients, e.g. for one group, designing a syllabus, preparing and writing materials, correcting and coaching written work, providing coaching before presentations, even setting up connected tech support. Or, for another client: translating presentations, knowing what language level to pitch the translation at so my client can actually give the presentation, understanding intercultural issues as a trainer to modulate the language, and then coaching in preparation for the meetings and presentations. The key (at least for me) is to develop those good client relationships and to give them more and more sophisticated services, rather than expanding my client base just for the sake of expansion. In fact, what I do has turned more and more into language consulting.

Scouting around, thinking about what might be around the next corner, I just watched James Schofield’s interview at last year’s BESIG. He’s one of the most inspiring trainers out there, a prolific writer (and a really good one), a teacher trainer who has held many sessions at BESIG and also at MELTA in Munich, and here he talks about a typical skill, namely the ability to manage groups and facilitate meetings. This seems to be an area that he has been developing, and it sounds very interesting indeed.

Are you thinking about your own professional development? How do you answer this question: “Where do your see yourself in 5 years?”

James Schofield
Summertown Readers: Ekaterina, Peril in Venice, Room Service, Double Trouble
Business Spotlight short stories (ongoing)
Course: Double Dealing (with Evan Frendo, Summertown, 2004-2006)
Course: Compass Langenscheidt (with others)
Course: Collins English for Business. Speaking (with Anna Osborn 2011); coming in 2012: Workplace English 1&2