This autumn, the School of Languages and Translation Studies has had a visitor from the University of Namibia (UNAM), Dr Meameno Shiweda, who is a specialist in teacher education. In this blog post, Meameno and Janne Skaffari talk about similarities and differences in what and whom they teach and, more broadly, in the educational systems of our two countries.
Janne: How does one become an English teacher in Namibia?
Meameno: Anyone with an interest in teaching English can enrol in a teacher training program for junior/senior primary or junior/senior secondary levels, provided that they have good grades in five subjects, and a minimum of a C grade in English at Namibia Senior Secondary Certificate. A minimum C grade in another language is also a requirement. C is roughly the same as cum laude or magna in your matriculation exam.
J: It is quite different from Finland, where you apply to study English as your major or minor at university, and teacher training is basically a minor subject that corresponds to one year’s work. It is often completed as part of the MA degree. This route is for secondary-school English teachers, but for primary schools, you do not necessarily need more than a primary-school teacher’s university degree in Education. When does English begin in your program? Our majors do English Department courses from the first semester on.
M: Throughout their four years of teacher training, our students receive a mix of English modules and teaching-methods training. English majors also commence from the first semester onwards, and they are taught by English subject specialists from various departments in the School of Education. The first year begins with phonetics, phonology and children’s literature, and in the second year they focus on speaking and youth literature. The third year is reading and writing, while the fourth and final year is adult literature and grammar.
J: Oh, grammar comes that late! What kinds of observations have you made about teaching and studying during your visit?
M: The length of time a student studies English before having to determine whether or not they want to become English instructors is an important observation I have made here. Additionally, I have learned that prospective teacher-training students are interviewed to gauge their level of preparedness for the teaching profession, as opposed to our practice at UNAM.
J: We think it is important that students have time to become familiar with their major and minor subjects at the BA stage and then focus more on a particular career during MA studies.
M: I’ve learned from my experiences here and from talking to colleagues that getting extensive English training before concentrating on a teaching job is more realistic.
J: Yes, we really hope it helps! Students also get to see that there are other career opportunities.
M & J: We wish all our students – in Namibia and Finland – good luck with their studies and future careers!
Text by Meameno Shiweda & Janne Skaffari
Photo by Teppo Jakonen