The Teachers Are Blowing Their Whistles!


John, an ex-teacher and a member of this website, tells his story about LOTE teaching in Queensland.

I worked for Education Queensland as a permanent LOTE teacher, then as a supply teacher between 2000 and 2003.

I was first offered a job as a beginning teacher (permanent) for one term in North Queensland teaching German LOTE in two schools.
I had to move from Brisbane to take this job.
Early on a senior female teacher told me the other LOTE teachers before me had found it too difficult there, that her male principal knew I was from down Brisbane way, he wanted to add to whatever homesickness I had and if I wanted to stay in teaching I'd need to complain about him.
(I guess they wanted me to do some dirty work for them too.)
There was a lot of negative talk (sometimes heated) about LOTE as a subject at both schools.
Towards the end of the term one principal called a meeting of both principals and myself.
The other principal who was always considerably kinder, said his school won't be part of the others' expectation that I, as a beginning teacher should have a full operational teaching program in place, where none had ever existed before.
To clarify, for example it was widely acknowledged that the French LOTE teachers were much better organized resource-wise than the German ones.

So it did get too difficult for me.
I got homesick too.
I was told by an HR person in North Queensland at the time, that if I stayed there for another term, she'd try to get me a transfer back to western South East Queensland, but If I resigned then that would be more or less it, because I hadn't completed my country service.
That then led to to me doing Supply teaching around Ipswich for a while.
The days that I had teaching jobs got fewer and fewer between 2000 and 2003.
I now work happily in a different field.

At that time too there were very many unemployed and underemployed teachers but all the students studying teaching had been told there were plenty of jobs.

I was reliably informed at the time by teachers I knew and trusted that it was not my fault so much, it's just that they raised the bar for teaching around 1992 without telling anybody.
Teachers also said all of teaching or education is based on a lie.

Oh, I agree with what others have written on your website, that the school staff treat Supply teachers as second class citizens, not giving them the normal breaks regular teachers would enjoy, and as one full time teacher told me, Supply teaching is a tough job and doesn't pay much.
The Education Queensland LOTE proficiency tests are very difficult. Maybe too difficult.
As someone who has sat the Education Queensland LOTE (Languages Other Than English) profiency test and is now employed by Education Queensland as a Japanese teacher, I can assure you the proficiency test is very difficult.
Music and languages are the only subjects I'm aware of that require a profiency test on top of the qualifications received from Uni, and I'm pretty sure this is only a QLD thing (but I could be wrong).
What's really happening is people who have basic LOTE language skills and could quite easily teach Yr 6-8 content are not being employed because of these tests (which test beyond University level ability).
So teachers with no knowledge or limited knowledge of languages end up being dumped with these classes anyway.
I'm not saying that LOTE teachers shouldn't be proficient, but it's a bit like saying you need to be a physicist to teach 1 + 1 = 2.
And people who do pass the proficiency test are usually native speakers who have limited English, which then creates behaviour problems in the classroom.
It'll be interesting to see what happens when LOTE comes in as national curriculum in 2013, and it really must be done regardless of circumstances and staffing.
Perhaps if schools hadn't been so keen to ditch LOTE staff under the ICIS debacle, they wouldn't be in this staffing mess.
Debra Shepherd of Brisbane, Reader's Comment 13 of 35, Many Queensland state schools not teaching foreign languages despite education policy, Tanya Chilcott, The Courier-Mail, 10 December 2011 : 
Is LOTE teaching a good career choice?

In January 2011 John Ryan, Director of the Queensland College of Teachers, suggested that LOTE teaching would be a good choice for people who wanted to train for a teaching career.


Robina Cosser comments :  as an experienced LOTE teacher, I think there are a few issues that prospective Queensland LOTE teachers should consider -

To become a LOTE teacher you not only have to have teaching qualifications, you also have to pass a LOTE proficiency test.

So you are placing one extra hurdle in your way to becoming a teacher.

And you may love learning languages, but there is no history of language - learning in Queensland.

You may find that you receive VERY little support from parents, teachers and school principals, particularly those who have not travelled and who have little experience of other cultures.

LOTE can be seen as a burden for principals.

I am told that one principal, after a few drinks, stated frankly "I hate LOTE and I hate those f-ck-ng LOTE teachers."

Primary LOTE teachers are particularly vulnerable - a group of primary LOTE teachers will work at the primary schools that feed the High School where a particular LOTE is taught.

But at any moment the High School may choose to change LOTEs - and suddenly all of the primary LOTE teachers will be out of work!

Just imagine if you have made many visits to your LOTE country to build up the school's LOTE resources - all at your own expense - bought a house near to your school - and suddenly you find that your school and all of the nearby schools have abandoned your LOTE.

You may be committed to your LOTE, but your school may really have very little commitment to the LOTE or to you.


Too many teachers chasing too few jobs in Queensland, Carly Hennessy, The Courier-Mail, 9 January 2011 :


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