Alumna Story: ✅ How TEFL Course Affected My Teaching Career
EFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is a unique area of expertise, requiring individual training. This essay will argue that the value of completing a TEFL course far exceeds that of merely placing a certificate to a teacher's name and improving their credibility and job prospects; because such a course has the potential to significantly broaden and deepen the future teacher's understanding of English—including its rules, exceptions, and quirks. A TEFL course can provide a 'sneak peek' into the industry, describing commonly-faced potentially tricky situations so that the future teacher will be ready and prepared when they, too, might face them. Furthermore, a TEFL course allows the prospective teacher to learn from repeated mistakes made over the years by other teachers not to make the same errors.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Johnathan W. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Challenges for English Learners
Many nationalities will agree that English is a difficult language to learn — there are many grammatical rules and conventions, and for each one of these, there are usually many exceptions. Most of us who have grown up speaking English have absorbed all of these rules at a young age and probably never even think about them. For example, unless an English speaker has studied a TEFL course or an English grammar course, they're unlikely to know what a third conditional is—and yet they'll almost certainly understand that "if I'd fed my cat more often, he wouldn't have run away" means that said cat did run away and that the speaker did not feed the cat often enough. Without a detailed understanding of this language structure, explaining how such a sentence works to an adult could prove extremely difficult—and when a teacher struggles to explain something to a student, they tend to lose some of their credibility, as a teacher of English should be an expert in teaching English. A right TEFL course will teach future teachers all they need to know about language structures that may come naturally to them but won't necessarily come naturally and will likely need to be explained in detail to adult learners and older children who have not grown up exposed to much English.
Benefits of Being a Non-Native Teacher
They had to explain language structures that native English speakers hardly ever have to think about won't be the only challenge faced by a new EFL teacher. This is another reason why having studied a TEFL course before starting one's teaching career can be beneficial. The first day of any job is bound to make a person feel at least a little anxious. Having studied a TEFL course can mean the difference between walking into a new classroom without knowing what kinds of challenges could lie ahead, nor knowing how to deal with them, and walking into the same classroom confident that one knows what the most commonly-faced challenges are, and already have tools and strategies at one's disposal to handle and work with them. An inexperienced new teacher might, for example, begin their first week of lessons only to find that none of the students are willing to speak in class. If the teacher had taken a TEFL course beforehand, they would likely already know how to get around this problem; for example, starting with pair work and group work so that students can practice speaking in English in a less daunting environment, rather than having to speak in front of the whole class immediately. For very shy or self-conscious students, a tape recorder could even be used to start with; the students could record themselves outside of course, in a more comfortable setting where no one is listening, and then play the recordings in class. Role-play and controlled practice can also go a long way in encouraging students to get past their hesitations and start to speak English openly in class. Without knowing how to address common issues, a teacher might begin to panic, start to avoid parts of lessons that involve the problem (in this case something vital: student talk time!), and may make mistakes in their teaching which could have been avoided had they studied a TEFL course.
Common Mistakes Made by Teachers
Just as a TEFL course can equip a teacher with an understanding of common challenges they are likely to face, such a system can also provide a teacher with prior knowledge of commonly-made teachers' mistakes. Of course, when someone is aware of common mistakes made in their work field, they are far less likely to make them themselves! In fact, without taking a TEFL course beforehand, a teacher may not even know that some teaching mistakes—for example, over-correcting-can have vastly adverse effects on students' confidence and motivation in the classroom mistakes in the first place. As a new teacher eager to see their students start to progress with their English, it is easy enough to imagine how one might—with no bad intentions at all—find themselves correcting every minor mistake a student makes; thinking they are doing an excellent job by being thorough, when in fact, this method of teaching usually proves to be relatively ineffective. It can also make learning a potentially upsetting chore for a student, especially one with fragile self-esteem.
Are you ready to teach English abroad or online?
In conclusion, while teachers-to-be may be fluent and highly skilled in their English use, they may not necessarily be equipped with proven, thoroughly-tested effective methods of teaching English. A TEFL course sets people up to succeed as EFL teachers in many ways, from merely teaching them more about their subject area to providing a glimpse into their future working lifestyle and allowing them to get to know what may lie ahead. This way, they can begin their exciting new career confident that they know what they're getting into and learn how to handle many of the experiences and challenges that could be thrown their way.
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