Are Teachers Obsolete?

Technology is definitely changing our lives for the better. That’s my opinion. I am not the nostalgic type of person who thinks the good old analogic times were much better. But, with the advancements of technology, especially with the improvement of voice recognition and simultaneous translation softwares and algorithms, one question is obvious for me: are language teachers going to become obsolete in the future?

My answer is: it depends. Maybe amongst all teachers, the language teacher will be the one to suffer the side-effects of technology first. If the role of the language teacher is thought to be the same as it has been throughout the 20th century, then my answer is yes. There is no place anymore for teachers who think they have the only acceptable answers, they hold the truth, they are the only ones who make learning possible. Learning has moved to a new status: it is available to everyone, it is not a privilege of a few gifted ones, and now it is known that each one of us learn in a different way. Technology has enabled us to have access to knowledge the most effective way for our own mindsets, learning styles or intelligences. And it also invites us to produce more knowledge based on our own interpretations and share it with the worldwide community. In this new context, the new teacher has to be the one to diagnose students, and help them choose the best way for each of them to learn more efficiently. The role of the new teacher is to personalize students’ learning, showing the best tools for each of them, guiding them. The new teacher is not the one to give answers; it is the one to ask the right questions. The new teacher is also a learner that learns how others learn.

In the (near) future, there will be plenty of room for teachers with this new profile. For those there will be a bright future. Yes, because not all the teachers of today will be able to make this change. Some of them will certainly become obsolete, for they will not be able to change their mindsets and their practices therefore.

There will be a market for those teachers indeed. Because there will be a number of skills and competencies that will be essential to this profile, and those will be much valued, teachers of the future will be praised and much more honored – and well paid – than the ones from today.

Are you ready to make this change? Are you ready to give up on old beliefs and reinvent yourself? If you are, do not be afraid. You will survive. You will be the new teacher needed for the new generations, for the future ahead.

The path to a bright future is to be open. Open to the unknown. Open to the unpredictable. Even open to the undesirable. Be open and the future will embrace you, teacher of tomorrow.

Carlos Henrique Trindade

Carlos Henrique Trindade has been in the ELT world for over 25 years and throughout this time he has worked in some of the main international publishers. Carlos is a specialist in Bilingual Education and has been implementing bilingual education programs in schools all over Brazil for the past five years. Carlos is currently the leader of Santillana's Group newest initiative: Educate Bilingual Program.

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