Learning to teach English and Teaching English

A potential student for the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Institute emailed me last month about what I thought about taking the TEFL course online. I thought I’d share my response:

The TEFL course online was pretty easy. I’m a classroom learner but I felt it was still very interactive. It’s still up to you to make the most of it. In the beginning of the course I was definitely more involved – reading everything. Towards the end I was really wrapped up in my move.  So I would suggest giving yourself buffer time in-between ending the course and your move. The student advisers at TEFL  were really helpful with questions about getting to Peru. And the TEFL Institute Alumni Group on Facebook was really helpful too. However, I don’t need a TEFL at any of the places I teach at. Some places in Lima require it but all of them don’t. If you get with a good school/institute with good course material its pretty easy once you start. Honestly if you speak English, and you have a personality you can do this.  But I’m still glad I have my TEFL certificate already because my husband and I are considering teaching in Asia and you need a TEFL there. I couldn’t see myself stopping to take the time to take the course now. TEFL Institute has also been pretty helpful with all of my questions about the next destination that we want to go to.

I think the practicum (real class observation/teaching) helps a lot as well. It really helps you see what your learn in the course applied. I did my practicum at Drexel University and have used some of the things they did in their classes.

  • I use www.npr.org for conversation classes – one of the teachers taught with NPR
  • I have had the students bring in a song and talk about what it means – one of the teachers did this in her class
  • I had a student draw a map to their house and explain the directions – another teacher did this
  • It was also helpful to see how teachers organize their class time and interact with the students.
Two of my students! Martin and Ursula

Teaching has been great. I actually teach professional adults for the most part which I didn’t expect, and I have just begun teaching kids. I have a few lawyers, an owner of a company and an HR manager as students.  They are all pretty interesting and in some of my classes I end up learning quite a bit. Some of my classes are really going through the book, some are conversation classes, one of my classes I’ve had to prepare my student for a meeting in English and a speech in English, and with the kids I try to be . Oh with that I should say that the majority of my classes are 1 on 1. I have one class with two students. Two students actually makes it very interesting because they can talk to each other and correct each others mistakes. The kids are absolutely fun and there is just a little bit more prep work involved. Right now I teach 5 days a week, with classes that are 1.5 – 2 hour blocks. On average I might teach 3 – 4 hours a day.
Overall, I’m glad I took the course with the TEFL Institute. The most helpful thing to me is their assistance while I’ve been abroad, and knowing how to create my own lesson plans.

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8 thoughts on “Learning to teach English and Teaching English

  1. Hi Erica… just one word of warning about taking the online TEFL courses. There are some universities that won’t (theoretically) hire a teacher who has only an online certificate for TESOL. For example, here in Saudi Arabia, where I’m now teaching at King Saud University (this will come as news to you, Erica!), they won’t accept the online certificate. Others look at what percentage was online versus in a physical classroom and only accept certificates that were earned with a certain number of classroom hours or more…

    It depends on where you want to teach, how much you want to earn, and, of course, how much they might look the other way because they’re desperate!

    All the best,
    Chrissy (one of the teachers you observed at Drexel)

    1. Thanks for the tip – my online course came with 20 hours of classroom time (that’s when I met you). WOW congrats on the move!! I know you wanted to go abroad. I’m so excited for you!!

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