So you’ve paid your money for a TEFL course that will undoubtedly widen your options of things you can undertake during your gap year. All you have to do now is complete it.
This is great, but now you have to begin down the long road that generally leads to more than 100 hours of commitment to study, teaching and writing. Of course, if you opted to do one that is solely online, there are things you will not have to do such as teaching a lesson in front of a group. The following, though, will focus on how to undergo a course that involves practical tasks, too. Here’s what you can expect.
Stepping out of your comfort zone
The most daunting thing that many face when entering a class-based TEFL course is that they may have to talk in front of people you don’t know. Sure, this is an issue; no one likes public speaking. However, as a TEFL should eventually lead to you teaching a class on a weekly basis, it is something you will have to do.
Luckily, a lot of courses will begin with people getting to know each other early on. My teacher was brilliant as he opened the proceedings by conducting an hour-long Spanish lesson in Spanish. Without faltering, he managed to get everyone to learn some lines of dialogue and did so without breaking his character. It was a great insight into understanding how students would experience a lesson in a language and by stepping out of my comfort zone it really helped with the rest of the course.
Learning to think differently
Most people who are native English speakers speak the language really well (of course you do; you’ve done so your whole life). What they don’t know is how difficult English words are to pronounce or how weird our sentence structures seem. Take ‘enough’ for example. We don’t pronounce the ‘gh’ at the end and the ‘ou’ part of the word makes an ‘uh’ sound.
Someone from Spain, for instance, would have difficulty with this because Spanish words are usually more phonetically spelt. But do not worry if you don’t consider yourself to have a good understanding of the English language.
The course will start off easy so you can get to grips with it. Expect learning to write words by using a phonetic chart, learn advanced forms of tense and consider different vocabulary groups.
Patience is a virtue
In a group of different levels and motivations for doing the course, the learning of how to teach English to a foreign will appear at times too broad. With this, the only thing I can advise is to learn how to be patient.
The interesting parts that make up the majority of the course far outweigh the bits that you are already familiar with. It will also help you in the classroom when you are teaching, as a class of kids or beginner adults may not understand a concept right away and thus may need to be gone over a few times.
Essay time isn’t over
In order to pass most TEFL courses, a student will have to take part in a written assessment. For those whose strength isn’t writing, they may have to spend more time on this segment than others. However, as long as you have understood your modules, the essay won’t be too difficult.
How to structure a lesson
To some, a classroom lesson may appear to be straightforward and unplanned. This is not the case, but more a reflection of the effort that the teacher has put into their lesson. When you conduct the course you will learn about many different things that need to be included in a lesson in order for a learner to get their head around a concept. It is important that you understand this before, as lesson planning can be quite time-consuming.
Doing a lesson
This is the one thing that terrifies even the most confident of people. But remember: you’re all in the same boat and they will understand how strange the experience is the first time you do it. After a few attempts at it, though, you hopefully will develop a taste for it. But it’s essential that you do it so you know for sure whether teaching is a skill set you possess.
If you need more information about TEFL courses, read our article ‘How to prepare yourself for a TEFL course’.