Over 10,000 people decide to take a TEFL courses every year, each having their own reasons to do so. Many are looking for a way to finance their travels for a year, others want to profoundly change their lives and careers and some have already been teaching and want to catch up with methodology and work on weak spots. No matter the reasons, taking a TEFL course is commonly described as an “intensive” adventure and as a tutor working on initial teaching training courses, I can confirm that without hesitation. However, there are a few easy hacks to make your life during a TEFL course much easier.
Don’t let things pile up
On most TEFL courses you will not only have teaching practice in the classroom but also be assigned projects throughout the course. The deadlines are spread out over the course and there’s a good reason for it: It helps you to stay on top of things. If you miss a deadline it usually only has relatively small initial consequences (you might get marked down or similar) but bigger long-term effects. Trainees who don’t manage to hand in their first assignment on time, usually struggle to hand in the second or third one before the deadline and will definitely face a lot of work in the last week of the course. From experience these trainees will often end up deferring projects, and with it their graduation. Stay on top of things and inform your tutor ahead of time if you feel like you struggle to meet deadlines. They’re always there to help you staying on top of things.
Read your written feedback
Good TEFL courses will provide you with a lot of teaching practice, observed by a qualified and experienced tutor. After you teach you will get feedback from your tutor, which usually includes a written summary of what happened in the class and how you could improve. It’s really worthwhile to go over this after you get verbal feedback from your trainer as they will mainly go over the most important points with you. There are lots of more tips of things to do and look out for in your written feedback.
There is no need to show up in a suit and tie for your TEFL course. However, looking and acting professionally will not only be very much appreciated by your tutors and the students you teach but also won’t go unnoticed. No need to dress up – be comfortable with what you wear but maybe leave the sweatpants, belly tops and shorts that show more than they cover at home. Besides that, professionalism is mostly an attitude. Be on time, show commitment and be proactive. Your tutors will notice and definitely not forget about it when they write a letter of recommendation for your future employer.
Take it from someone who observes trainees teaching lessons every day: A failed lesson is not a failure. Actually, you’re likely to learn the most from a lesson that didn’t go perfectly according to plan. While you might be able to go duck out of teaching much grammar during the course (because you’re a bit scared of it), I don’t recommend it. Challenge yourself and tackle the things you feel most uncomfortable with. Now is the time, now that you have tutor holding your hand, helping you with every step of the course. It will be way worse to teach your first grammar lesson after the program, with no or very little help. So you can either teach 10 perfect reading lessons or you can challenge yourself and have a go at everything.
Steal, steal, steal!
Hopefully your course will give you the opportunity to observe experienced teachers teach. It’s a great opportunity to learn about different teaching styles and pick up some tricks of the trade from people who have been doing it for years or even decades. Make sure to steal some of the things that work for them, for example, observe how they calm down a noisy class or write down some of the activities they used to teach vocabulary and try it with your own class next time. No one will get offended, teachers are always happy to share!
The aftermath: Future development
Once you hold your certificate in your hands, you will feel great and accomplished. Education is something you keep for life and there’s no reason not to feel very, very proud of the fact that you’ve successfully completed the course and survived what potentially was the most stressful month of your life. Take a little time to be happy about it and then get started with your first teaching job!
A little while after completing the course, however, it can be very good to think about the future. I know, you just started teaching and want to check out all the options before even thinking about further development and that’s cool. But, don’t forget about your professional development completely. Set yourself a goal that you want to reach within 2 years. That can be anything, like specializing in a certain area like teaching Business English or Young Learners (for example through workshops or online development courses), becoming a in company teacher for a bigger corporation or heading towards being a Director of Studies. No matter what you goal is and no matter how often it’ll change during those 2 years, it’s good to have one and check on it from time to time. Not only but also because of that, it can be very worthwhile to take your course with a provider that offers future development and not “only” the TEFL course.
Good luck with your course and all your future endeavors!
Karin Krummenacher is a teacher trainer from Switzerland. She holds Delta and has been working on initial teaching training courses since 2013. Karin is a published writer and conference speaker and takes an active interest in teacher development and equality in the industry.
As a full-time trainer for Oxford TEFL in the Czech Republic Karin works with teachers in training on a daily basis. She currently researches the effects of narratives in reflection tasks for teachers in training as well as ways of educating trainees on equality in EFL.
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