You have a TEFL/TESOL certificate… now what?
Having gained your initial certification in ESL you will want to start thinking about how to develop your career. It is never too early to start this process and training and learning should be seen as a lifelong progression. There are many ways to enhance and develop your skills, a number of which are outlined below. The suggestions are not exhaustive and you should do further research to find further options.
Collaborative Learning and Professional Networks
Our first suggested method of development is by joining professional organizations and associations for ESL teachers. This allows you access to best practices through peer collaboration. Some professional learning communities provide access to free training, such as MOOC’s. You can also find forums and other sharing systems through social media.
Technology Integration and Digital Literacy
Some of the larger teaching companies may provide what is known as “In-service training” or INSET. Of particular note are those training opportunities available for improving digital literacy and methods of integrating technology into your teaching practices. It is obviously important to stay updated with the latest trends and advancements in educational technology.
Reflective Portfolio and Documentation
You should try to follow the good practice that you would have developed in your training course for TEFL/TESOL certification as far as planning and creating lessons is concerned. You can do this by creating a reflective portfolio to showcase professional growth. This would document your achievements, observations, and evidence of continuous development. The portfolio should be updated regularly to reflect ongoing learning and progress. It should include samples of lesson plans, assessments, and student work.
Reflective Practice and Self-Assessment
It is very important to have a clear understanding of the value of reflective practice in professional growth. Engaging on a regular basis in self-assessment to identify areas for improvement should be a natural part of your practice. Maintaining a reflective journal in which you document teaching experiences and insights is highly recommended. You should also regularly seek feedback from your students, colleagues, supervisors and mentors.
Other teaching opportunities
Once you have some experience, two potential opportunities to gain teaching experience are through mentoring and coaching. These are two useful avenues to improve your skills. Once you have some experience becoming a mentor to novice ESL teachers is a great way to achieve reciprocal learning. Also being a mentee with experienced ESL educators, you will learn from their experience. Being involved with coaching in any type of situation that you are interested in can also enhance teaching skills.
Research and Classroom Innovations
Being a member of a professional teaching association is a good way to be able to conduct research. These associations are often involved in conducting action research projects to investigate teaching strategies. Such projects may give you insights into how the education process works from a variety of viewpoints. First from your own experiences you should identify your areas of interest and from this conduct your own classroom-based research. This may allow you to implement innovative techniques and evaluate their effectiveness. You can then take this initial work and as part of a professional teaching association you will have the perfect forum to share findings and insights with the wider teaching community.
Continuing Education and Advanced Certifications
You should keep in mind the fact that a 120-hour TEFL/TESOL certification in an entry level qualification to the ESL teaching profession. You can study ESOL at diploma, Degree, Masters and even Doctorate level. As you gain in experience you should look to further your theoretical knowledge by pursuing these more advanced qualifications. You can also increase learning and access to material by attending conferences, workshops, and seminars to expand knowledge and skills. Participating in webinars and online courses for convenient and accessible learning is also useful.
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