The 2 Best Things I’ve Got From My TEFL Course: Alumni Experience
Though I have been an English teacher for a period of seven (7) years in two different countries including my home country, yet I spent hours trying to decide the most appropriate topic for my summative essay, I finally decide to choose “The best thing I've learned from my TEFL/TESOL course” Why? Because I genuinely learned a lot during the course of my study and I will like to share my views, but I will discuss only two major points in this essay.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Oluwatosin B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
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1. Lesson Planning
Lesson planning is a vital component in the teaching of English because a good lesson plan ought to give direction and outline clear learning objectives for the day’s or a term’s lesson. It is a tool to keep abreast of my student’s learning progress and it also helps in keeping track of all the activities done in class. Previously, I only make use of a small note to write down what I intend to teach in every phase of the class but sometimes I exhaust the content and resort to revision or light activities to wrap up the day’s class. Since there is no definite format to writing a good lesson plan, however, I have learned to strive to write a proper but flexible lesson plan to make my class more interesting and engaging in such a way that my class is dynamic and unpredictable by my students. After studying thoroughly about Lesson planning in this course, I came up with an infamous formula, PREDICTABILITY leads to BOREDOM, BOREDOM leads to LACK of MOTIVATION while LACK of MOTIVATION leads to LOSING INTEREST in the learning of English. If the latter happens, teachers are always blamed for students losing interest in learning English; so in order to be called a good teacher, I should make sure that my future lesson plans are kept simple, structured, flexible and open to adaptation.
Finally, a good lesson plan should include but not limited to the following; my aims and target as a teacher, my students’ objectives, teaching aids to be used, language point, timing, procedures, evaluation of lessons, anticipated problems with proactive measures in place.
Also Read: Maintaining Discipline in The Classroom
2. ESA Methodology
As far as I am concerned, this is by far the best approach to be applied in the teaching of English. I only had a shallow knowledge of ESA but I have been exposed to the in Toto of the simple but effective ESA methodology after studying extensively about it in this course. The elements - Engage, Study and Activate (ESA) - are necessary for successful language learning in classrooms. These elements need to be present in most lessons or teaching sequences. I need to always engage my students especially at the beginning of the class. For example, if a certain class focus is on grammar there should be room for Study and Activation. If the focus is on reading there may be a lot of Activation of language knowledge in the processing of the text, but at some stage, the students will also study the construction of that text or the use of some language within it. I will briefly discuss what I understand about the three elements.
Engage Arousal of students’ interest and involvement (physically and emotionally) in the lessons. This “warmer” stage should include various activities and games. E.g. music, discussions, stimulating pictures, dramatic stories, etc. Though not important, the language used in the Engage stage should be connected with the language used later in the lesson.
Study: Just as the name implies, the study is the stage where I make my students to literally study the language; how such language is constructed and used. The study should start with elicitation which can be achieved through the following study styles, e.g. explanations, groups, whole-class, pairs, and individual. The main focus here is the construction of the language.
Also Read: The Fun Side of Group Teaching
Activate: I term this stage “free-for-all”, this is where my students should be encouraged to use the language as freely and communicatively as possible, with no restrictions or rules; the focus is not on language construction but on fluency of the language. Most common activities used in this stage are group-writing, role-plays, debate, discussions, story and poem writing, etc.
In as much as these three elements should be present in most lessons, teaching process does not have to follow a straight line, there are different ways and I can use several at different times to reinvent my classes, this way my students won't get bored but there is a “golden rule” which is lessons should start with ENGAGE and end with ACTIVATION. There are other formats which are Straight Line ESA, Boomerang ESA, and Patch ESA, each should be applied appropriately based on class and students’ level.
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This is the summary of one of the multitudes of things I learned so far in this course, I can say my time and energy invested was not a waste as it is worth it. I will continue to study more on my own to add to the skills I already acquired in this course and I will constantly apply them throughout my time teaching English as a foreign language.
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