A TEFL certificate. Few things are as essential on the resume of an aspiring foreign English teacher (aptly also called a TEFL teacher). A lot of aspiring teachers view the TEFL course as nothing more than a hurdle to jump in order to procure that certificate vital to securing their dream career of travelling the world and educating its youth. However, TEFL courses should not be taken lightly. Along with providing the important certification, TEFL courses also provide all the much needed practical and theoretical framework necessary to ensure your success in the classroom. A good TEFL course will make sure you are fully prepared to produce educational and interesting lessons, while giving you the tools needed to deal with any problems that will inevitably pop up in a classroom setting. Here’s how TEFL courses prepare you for life in the foreign classroom.
One thing all those colorful flyers promoting teaching abroad will have inevitably left out is this; children can (and will) be absolute monsters at times. There will be days that your entire class is involved, listening and focused but truthfully, those days are few and far between. Many days you will have all kinds of behavioural issues pop up, fighting, screaming, bullying, texting or simply not listening. Add this to the communication barrier brought on by the fact that the students understand very little English (and you probably understand absolutely none of their language), and it can be enough to make any self respecting teacher fantasize about throwing the little barbarians off of very high buildings by the dozen.
However, seeing as throwing your students off buildings is generally considered a no no by most faculties, one needs to come up with alternative methods for correcting unwanted behaviour. That’s where your TEFL course comes in. Good TEFL courses will have long and extensive units dedicated to classroom management. They will have tips and tricks specific to both different behaviours and different age groups. As far as practical skills go, classroom management is by far the most invaluable one, you will use it every day of your teaching career so make sure your TEFL course has a good one!
On Your first day of teaching, you’re going to walk into the classroom and see dozens of little eyes staring at you with no absence of curiosity only to realize something, you actually have no idea what you’re doing. Fear not! This will only last a few minutes thanks to your TEFL course. Another vital thing good TEFL courses teach you is how to create and execute a good lesson plan. A good lesson plan is the foundation of your class and how well the class goes depends almost entirely on how well laid out your lesson plan is. There are many components to a lesson plan and good TEFL courses will go through all of them to ensure that your lesson plans are iron clad and sufficient to hold the interests of even the rowdiest classes, while being long enough to fill that entire hour.
You probably rolled your eyes at this one. “But I’ve been speaking english my whole life! I already have perfect grammar!” You probably do but, can you use the correct terms to explain the rules and subtler nuances of the English language? Do you know what synecdoche, prepositions, pronouns, antecedents, clauses and Gerunds are? How about interjections, intransitive verbs, predicates, or present participles? Unless you’re an absolute grammar nerd (or an English teacher!), you probably don’t. And as an aspiring English teacher, you’re going to have to learn each and every one of those pretentious words in order to teach them to your students who will undoubtedly disdain them more than you ever will. The good news is that you already did learn most of that stuff in high school even if you don’t remember it! Good TEFL courses don’t spend too too much time on grammar, but go through all of it thoroughly to refresh your memory on all it’s forgotten. While grammar may be one of the least interesting components of your TEFL course, it’s very important so make sure your course has a good one!
As a teacher, you’re forced to pretty much manage yourself. Sure you might have a director or supervisor that you email your lesson plans in to every week, but for the most part you’re the king in your own classroom. Your director/supervisor probably doesn’t speak the greatest English themselves, and pretty much trusts you blindly. Now this is great for a lot of reasons; you get to use your own ideas and creativity as well as manage your own time according to your schedule. But for a lot of other reasons it can, to put it quite bluntly, suck. With so much freedom, it can be pretty hard to motivate oneself to produce an adequate output for the responsibility entailed in being an English teacher. Your lesson times are fixed but all other aspects of your job are done on your own time; marking, creating lesson plans, and assessments. It can be very hard to get up the motivation to do these things, especially seeing as you’re in a new and probably exotic place with so much to see and do. That’s where your TEFL course comes in. Most TEFL courses are online meaning that like teaching, you must be 100 percent self motivated to complete the class and obtain your TEFL certificate. There are no professors pushing you to complete assignments or meet deadlines, it’s all on your own head. True it’s not quite as much work and commitment as teaching will be, but it’s a very good start and provides you with the much needed mindframe one needs to be a successful TEFL teacher.
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