TESOL Certification – the benefits and 10 tips
With our first teacher training courses starting in November, course tutor Karen Chambers takes a look at the advantages of becoming a fully-qualified teacher of English as a foreign language.
TESOL teacher training course will start you off on a highly rewarding career path which will open up a wide variety of opportunities both in the UK and around the world. So, what makes people choose a TESOL course? What are the benefits? What does the course consist of? This post will attempt to answer both questions and offer a selection of tips to help you through it.
If you’re serious about teaching English as a career, there are two qualifications to choose from: the CertTESOL or the Cambridge CELTA. Either qualification will increase your employability but without one, your chances of getting work at a reputable school are minimal. The qualifications have much in common but the CertTESOL is arguably the slightly more practical qualification in that you will get the opportunity to teach groups and individuals. As a TESOL qualified teacher, you will have access to thousands of schools around the world. Teaching abroad introduces you to new cultures and offers a unique opportunity to get to know the people of a particular country in ways that would never be open to visiting tourists. Even if you only decide to teach for a year or so and then return home, the skills you will have acquired during this stage of your life will look great on your CV - skills such as leadership within the classroom, balancing the needs of a number of people including students, managers and perhaps even parents (should you decide to teach young learners). You might also pick up a new language along the way.
Attending a TESOL programme is challenging and intensive but also extremely rewarding and a great deal of fun. You will be training alongside people from a variety of backgrounds and you will develop a close-knit support group to help you through. You should be prepared to clear your schedule for the 4 weeks the course takes to complete. Evenings and weekends will be used in preparation and planning and the writing up of assignments. Sound tough? Why do it? You will be introduced to best practice in English language teaching, you will observe teachers demonstrating a variety of effective teaching methods and – in a short time – become skilled at identifying learners’ levels, needs and backgrounds in order to focus what you do in the classroom on meeting those requirements and creating a supportive, efficient and effective learning environment for all those concerned. In short, you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to stand up in front of a class of learners and teach them. Alongside these skills, you will gain the ability to evaluate what you do and ways in which you can further develop these skills as you go forward in your new career as a teacher of English.
TESOL training can be tough but it needn’t be tortuous as long as you take heed of a few pointers. Below are a few tips for surviving TESOL Certification and coming out the other side:
1. Be prepared to put your life on hold for the duration of the course – it might sound intimidating but what you put in you will get out. Discuss any concerns you may have with the centre and they will be able to advise you on your suitability for the course.
2. Be prepared to feel like a beginner. Go into the course with an open mind. You will feel vulnerable at times – treat this as a learning experience. It will ensure you develop empathy towards your students who may find themselves in a similar position.
3. Ensure you manage your time effectively. Organise your workload and set realistic deadlines which will ensure you get the work done in time.
4. Take some time before the course to brush up on basic English grammar and structures. The pre-course task and reading list you receive will really point you in the right direction. You will have to research grammar points on the course and a little advance preparation will give you a head start.
5. Ensure you have a quiet place to study and prime your partner/flatmate/family/ friends that you will not be available much for them but you would really appreciate them cooking/washing/cleaning/ironing for you.
6. Be ready to take on board constructive feedback – feedback given is designed to help you to improve. Take it in the spirit in which it is given. It is never personal.
7. Communicate any concerns you have with your tutor – they will be able to advise you on the best course of action. Don’t forget that the course is very intensive and pressure affects us all differently so there is no shame in having the odd wobbly moment or two.
8. Never forget to treat your students as individuals. You may feel they are asking awkward questions but students are not being deliberately obstructive and should this ever be the case, the tutor will intervene. The students all know you are training and are always very supportive and respectful of the fact.
9. Prepare, prepare, prepare. Remember the old adage “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail” (Benjamin Franklin).
10. Enjoy the course – it is extremely rewarding and you will be amazed at how much you will learn and develop over the 4 weeks.
Karen Chambers has been teaching since 2001, mainly in Switzerland, where she also worked as a teacher trainer, and London. She has been working at the London School of English since 2008.
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