How Taking a TEFL Certification Course Has Improved My Online English Teaching
When I was young, I dreamt about thousands of different jobs, but being an online English teacher was never one of them. However, Iâve had the opportunity to work with Chinese students ranging from 5 to 13 years old and it has been one of the best experiences of my life so far. How am I going to communicate with them? Am I ready to be a teacher? How will I transmit what I want to teach? These are some of the questions that went through my mind before accepting the job, but when I finally decided to take it and started to be an ESL teacher I knew I was doing what I love the most, transmitting knowledge.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Karla V.
I first started teaching with a Chinese company named US Class that utilizes an online platform called ClassIn where students take online classes from their home in Beijing, and I teach from my own home in California. At the beginning I was only doing DEMO classes (these are free of charge for students that are trying out the platform), but the more DEMOs I gave, the more regular students I booked. A year passed by and I now give 21 regular classes throughout the week. I have created a bond with all my students and I love watching them improve every single day.
When teaching classes, I did run into some trouble on giving instructions, games, examples, and many other things that drove me to look for a teaching certificate that could help me improve as a teacher. The areas I was lacking in the most were on improvisation when having free time, giving instructions, and adapting to the kids needs rather than just sticking rigidly to the lesson content. It is important to say that my employer provides the powerpoint lessons and my job is to teach it, therefore at the beginning of my experience I thought I had no freedom, or way, to make a lesson plan. After completing the TESOL certification course, I understood the importance of having a flexible lesson plan for every class and will now use the powerpoints as a general teaching aid rather than a rigid plan that can't be veered from. In other words, I will focus more on the main idea of the lesson rather than solely on the teaching aid provided. These lesson plans will help to fill any free time with planned games or drills to complement the taught lesson. I also learned that there is really no such thing as free time when you have a lesson plan.
Other ways the TEFL certificate course helped my teaching
Before starting one of my teaching courses, students take a placement test to see what level they should be placed in. However, I have encountered classes where one student has a basic understanding of the course and another student, on the same lesson, who has a very high level of understanding. This situation made me uncomfortable at the beginning of my teaching experience because I was not sure how to transmit the lesson information for two different levels of student. After completing the teaching certificate, I now know that simple instructions can be understood by both levels of students, and that asking different level questions to each can address my problem and make my students feel more confident. For this situation, I like to incorporate more games like Pictionary, hangman or Monopoly where students can have fun and learn regardless of their fluency.
Before I started the ITTT certificate, I did a little bit of an ESA type course, but I now feel more confident knowing what each stage should incorporate and what they should not incorporate. Following this ESA method will also help my lessons go smoother.I love teaching and providing my students with better teaching techniques was my main motivation to get a teaching certificate. Because I mostly work with younger students, I have also decided to take the 50-hour certificate in teaching English to young learners (CTEYL) and I canât wait to incorporate the knowledge, ideas, and new resources that I gain from it into my future lessons.
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