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Sustain novices' enthusiasm

AS someone who has worked with new teachers of English for the past 12 years - in schools and in three universities - I do not recognise the "dreary" picture of classroom life painted by Anne Barnes, the retired general secretary of the National Association for the Teaching of English (TES, February 28).

As someone who has conducted research for NATE into the motivations and expectations of more than 300 trainee English teachers, I can assure readers her assertion that there is a new, depressingly compliant and dependent type coming into the profession simply is not supported by the evidence.

New entrants to English teaching are still overwhelmingly motivated by their love of the subject, are highly creative and desperately want to "make a difference" to children's lives.

The real challenge for NATE, and everyone else, is to sustain this enthusiasm, commitment and idealism over the first few years in the job.

Viv Ellis

Oxford University Department of educational studies 15 Norham Gardens

Oxford

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