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Top Teacher Development Strategies for Non-Native Speakers

Top Teacher Development Strategies for Non-Native Speakers | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Hello everybody, it's Liza here, I'm glad to see you joining me today. If you guys can hear and see me clearly please let me know via the chat box. Today we are going to discuss some problems related to teacher development. While I am waiting for more people to join, just quickly let me introduce myself. So I am a non-native ESL teacher and a TEFL expert. I go live every week on Tuesday and this live stream is provided by International TEFL and TESOL Training.

Watch the live session here

Thanks a lot for letting me know that my system is working. I'm glad you are tuning in and by the way please let me know where you guys are from. I'm located in Russia, but I taught in China for a couple of years and then I went to Thailand and finally I came back to Russia to teach online. I can see that there are some people from India. It's always nice to know where you are from because it helps me to understand that we are truly global. Also from South Africa, that's awesome.

I have already mentioned that today we are going to look at teacher development and I'd like to share a sort of strategy for non-native English teachers. Frankly speaking native English teachers can also benefit from such an approach because I know that new teachers face some problems at the very beginning of their career and I believe if you guys know how to start from scratch and how to build on your professional skills it can really help everyone. I really want to share this piece of knowledge with you, so I hope that you guys will find it useful.

Let's quickly move on, let me change the slide. I can see that there are people from the Philippines, from Turkey, from Nepal, that's awesome, and even from the UK. Thanks a lot for tuning in, I'm always glad to see new faces and I also see that there are people coming again and again, so thanks a lot guys. Just a quick reminder that ITTT is represented on various social networks so if you want to keep updated on teaching and TEFL and stuff like that, please follow us on your favorite social networks.

Before we move on to the main point of today's topic I'd like to ask you, are you guys new to this field or do you have some experience? Have you already started teaching? Please let me know via the chat box.

I see that some people are new and that's awesome, but it doesn't mean that this presentation is just for those who are new to the field. We will also discuss such cases where people are experienced but still need some practice and training. The first point I'd like to discuss is pretty simple. When you're new to the field or maybe you haven't been teaching for some time and you need to start from scratch, how do you begin?

The general suggestion would be really simple, try to find some initial training. What I mean by this initial training is that it is important to build on your basic teaching skills and as for basic skills I'd say that different types of training help to develop them and it's pretty obvious that TEFL is that certificate which helps you to learn about methodologies, teaching approaches and stuff like that. So if you want to build your basic skills, TEFL or TESOL would be best. However, there are some others that I will talk about a little bit later.

I'd also like to mention that sometimes there are problems such as English language abilities. So if you are a non-native English speaker it's really vital to understand the level of your skills and for those who are pretty advanced I'd like to recommend that it is important to take a TEFL training course as it will give you some basic training and some understanding of how to teach. There are many people who are pretty advanced, who have been learning English for many years and they believe that this is enough for them to start teaching. But it's actually not true because teaching English is not the same as learning it.

The same point occurs with native English teachers who believe that knowing English is enough, but it's not. Actually it's really important to get some basic teaching training. If you are not that advanced you can simultaneously work on both parts as well. So it doesn't mean that if you're upper intermediate that you can start teaching from there. You can, but you have to also work on your personal skills like a language learner, so just remember that nobody is perfect and it's just a matter of practice and acquiring those skills. When it comes to various modes of training there are two general ones, online and offline. I'd say that there is not much difference in terms of programs or skills you can acquire, however, we can definitely think of affordability and then demand.

Because of the pandemic situation offline training is more challenging right now, simply because it's not accessible to get to some other countries to find training. That is why online is a great mode to get this teaching experience both from the development perspective and from the practical perspective. It's really easy to both study and work online these days and another thing is that it's much more affordable to get your training online. More and more educational institutions provide online courses and they are equal to offline courses and the same thing happens in ESL teaching.

I'd also like to remind you that if you take a TEFL certificate it doesn't say what type of training you had, it doesn't say that it was completely online or completely offline. As for further development, let's just discuss these two options that are pretty common to the ESL world. Many new teachers and experienced teachers choose to take a CELTA or DELTA certificate. I want to tell you a little bit about those certificates and also explain when is the right time to take such certifications. So if we take CELTA I'd say this type of training is broadly similar to TEFL, however, if we compare it to TEFL it is much more expensive and if you decide to take CELTA you'd probably need to spend a month or something doing nothing but CELTA.

So CELTA is a great certificate, it's great training but it's only affordable to those who have time and money because it's pretty expensive compared to a TEFL certification. Also, it's no better than TEFL, it doesn't give you more opportunities when you go to look for a job. However, those teachers who obtained CELTA in a real classroom mentioned that it provides a lot of practical experience so if you haven't worked for a long time it might be a great opportunity to get this real-life teaching experience. Another difference is that CELTA is really great for those who want to work with groups either online or offline. If you want to work with one-on-one students, with face-to-face students, it's probably something to do either later when you're ready to work with groups or maybe you don't need it at all.

When we talk about other types of training or certificates there are such certificates as TKT. These certifications are from Cambridge, however, they are more specified. They are like specialized courses, for example if you took your TEFL certificate with ITTT already you could also take a certification related to teaching young learners or business english. So these certificates are pretty similar. Basically there are a lot of ways to develop your teaching skills and to deepen your knowledge, it doesn't mean that you have to take a CELTA course.

When we move on to the next thing which is DELTA I'd say that this certificate is not actually a certificate it's more like a diploma. It's not a single course and it requires a lot of time, energy and money. It is desired by thousands of teachers all over the world, but not all of them are ready to take it. At the beginning of our careers we simply need to have an initial TEFL certification or a CELTA for example. The DELTA is a great opportunity to develop your professional skills when you want to seek out higher positions. Especially if you want to work as managerial staff. If you've been teaching for several years and you're pretty experienced and you're looking forward to becoming a head teacher or a head of a department, then DELTA might be right for you.

I have already mentioned you have to have this experience and if you know something about DELTA you probably know that there are three single modules to take and they are pretty time consuming and you have to put in a lot of effort and spend a lot of time on developing skills to pass all of the modules. Apart from CELTA and DELTA there are actually some alternative development opportunities and you can see on this slide. If you've watched my previous live streams you will probably have heard this phrase, massive open online courses, it has this abbreviation, m-o-o-c-s. These massive online courses are really affordable and you can find them on such platforms as FutureLearn or Coursera. They are provided by famous educational institutions such as the British Council, Cambridge, Oxford and whatever.

There are thousands of qualifications that can be obtained either for free or for a small fee. For example, a couple of years ago I studied with FutureLearn. I took a course from the British Council related to teaching English to early childhood students and it was really useful and helpful to me at that time because I worked in China with four year olds and I didn't know anything about how to approach them, how to explain English to students who don't even speak their mother tongue to any great extent. I paid about $60 for the certificate, which is really affordable but there was also an option just to observe the course and not to get the certificate at the end of the training. So it's actually up to you if you want to develop some special skills and get more qualifications.

Another point to mention here would be observed teaching practice which is a vital part of your teaching progress and teaching development. It is accessible to those who work in a real classroom or with online teaching providers. For example, when I worked in China, every month or something like that I was observed by other teachers and they just commented on what was good and what was not that good and gave me recommendations. That was really valuable and it helped me to work on my problems and challenges as well. Then when I worked for an online school here in Russia I was also observed every couple of months and their methodologists gave me a report with feedback on what areas I had to look at.

If you are not yet working in a real classroom or in an online classroom there is still an opportunity to get this observed teaching practice because different TEFL providers offer this opportunity. At ITTT we have this option, so you can check our website if you need something like that. If you want to get assessed, if you want to get some feedback on your teaching, it's a great opportunity and by the way from time to time I also get observed teaching practice from my colleagues. There are many freelance teachers who communicate with each other and who are ready to exchange their experience. I found one who gave me her feedback on my teaching. I just sent her a video recording of my online English class and she gave me her feedback. It was really valuable because I learned a lot, she pointed out some minor problems I had and it helped me to improve a lot. So just bear in mind that observed teaching practice is really valuable.

Last but not least, self-study is also vital if you want to be updated in terms of English teaching and the ESL world. It's necessary to look for information all over. For example, I try to follow different blogs and as I have already mentioned in Russia we've got a really great community of English teachers. Those people are really interested in the field and they always try to share their experience. Many teachers run their personal blogs on social networks and it's really helpful, especially when you start from scratch or when you are stuck somehow.

For example, a year ago when the pandemic started I followed a lot of English teachers on Instagram and looked at the ways they started teaching online because they shared different tips and tricks on how to enhance your teaching and it helped me a lot. I learned about Miro and Quizlet and other stuff like that from their blogs and it's something really helpful, so make sure you try to be proactive in terms of self-study and look for as many opportunities as possible. Self-study helps you to build your personal skills as well as your teaching skills.

Experience is also something necessary to add when you work on your teacher development. I know a lot of people who take their certificates, who finish their studies and training but they don't start teaching, they don't start getting that experience which is even more necessary than having a TEFL certificate. Getting as much experience as possible is really necessary if you want to become better, if you want to provide your clients with the best services. Even if it means that you get paid a little less, it is still vital to take a job and to get this experience.

I've already mentioned that I worked for an online teaching company here in Russia and just to give you this piece of knowledge, online schools in Russia do not pay well. There are many reasons for that. Basically, they provide you with materials and students so you don't need to do anything but teach. I believe my basic hourly rate was less than $4, but I still worked for that company for several months because it was necessary to get this experience. I needed to understand how to work with students online because before that I actually taught in a real classroom only and I didn't have that experience online. So real life training and real life experience are both necessary.

I can see that there are several questions from you and I'd like to answer them now, but if you still have anything on your mind related to TEFL teaching or teacher development, please go ahead and write your questions in the chat box. Also, a quick reminder that if you are looking at taking a TEFL certification you can scan this QR code and get 30% off any of our TEFL courses. If you already have your TEFL certificate but you want to get some observed teaching practice, why not go to the website and check out our options. Another way to get to the website is to click on the link in the chat box.

By the way, thanks for joining me today. I really appreciate that as I know you are all busy. English teachers are always busy, but I hope to keep in touch with you weekly. I see that there are some teachers who have already been teaching for several years, that's awesome. Thanks Sabina for letting us know. Five years of teaching experience, that's great. Also, 18 years of teaching experience and you still come to this live session, wow, thanks a lot.

So the question is, if you obtain your TEFL certification can you start teaching online as well?

Yes you can. TEFL certification is really flexible. The course is related to teaching in general and to explaining methodologies, teaching approaches, and how to create your lessons, not necessarily just in a real classroom. You can also try to be flexible and create your lesson online. For example, I took my TEFL certificate in 2017 and I learned about the ESA strategy, Engage, Study, Activate, in that TEFL course from ITTT. Nowadays this is the only approach I use in my online teaching because it's really simple and any materials and resources can be adjusted to that strategy. If you take a TEFL certificate you can totally work online as well.

As for the next question, it depends on what kind of training you would like to take. Let's quickly go to the ITTT website. So I've already mentioned that we give this 30% discount and if you go to the website you can see what courses we have on offer. This is our website and this is where you can get your TEFL certification. So let's see how much a certificate costs. If you look at these sections you can see that the prices start from $249 for an online certification. But by the way, when you get your hard copy of the certificate upon completion of your course it won't state that you obtained it online, it will just state how many hours of training you had. If we look at this online TEFL certification the training would be 120 hours, or you can look at some bigger certificates like those courses which have more hours and they are not that expensive. They start from $289, but remember that with this 30% discount you will get a lot more off of that price.

Also, there are two modes in each certification option. For example, if you go to the 120-hour TEFL course you can take this course for $249 without any tutor support. But if you want to get some feedback from a tutor, from a real teacher, it will cost a little bit more, $339. For that you get all this support and videos and other stuff. So this is how our website looks and if you are interested in TEFL jobs there is a great job listing you can go to on this page. For example, there are jobs in South Africa and If I'm not mistaken there is someone from South Africa here, so if you want to get a job you can look at this job listing page.

If you guys still have any questions please feel free to ask me via the chat box or we can actually think of wrapping things up. I think we've had a pretty extensive discussion today. We've talked a lot. Let's see, there is another question on how to look for students.

By the way, we don't work with single students in our job listings, it is for schools and other employers. If we talk about one-on-one classes I'd recommend you look at my previous live streams related to online teaching platforms because online teaching platforms are where you can find your one-on-one students. I actually did a couple of them and one of them was related to teaching on Preply. I did an interview with my friend who is working for Preply and she told us a lot of different stuff like how to build on your profile.

I also devoted two sessions to various platforms where you can also create your profile and start teaching. The live stream from last week was devoted to building your personal brand on social networks and it's also a great video to get some inspiration and start teaching one-on-one. Because it can be difficult to find your first students but there are actually many ways to do that. Just quickly to remind you of your personal network as this is how I usually look for my students. I tell my friends that I teach English and they usually ask me either to help them or they recommend me to their friends and it's just this word of mouth thing.

We're at the end of this presentation and this is the final slide. Thanks a lot for coming and thank you for your nice words, it's so pleasant to know that someone can benefit from it and find it useful and interesting.

By the way, I usually add another slide related to my Facebook group. So I created a Facebook group to keep in touch and if you guys want to communicate with me apart from in these sessions, you can follow this link from the chat box and join me on my English lifestyle group. If you have any questions or any concerns on your teaching or if you have questions about TEFL you can ask me. Just join me in the group. You can also add me to your friends list.

Thanks a lot guys for coming today and this is the end of today's session. I hope to see you next time. Bye, bye, see you next week.

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Top Teacher Development Strategies for Non-Native Speakers
Are you a new ESL teacher or thinking of becoming one? This live stream will help you understand how to develop in this field and become a real professional.

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