Monday, October 15, 2007

To TEFL or Not to TEFL (Part III)

Now that we’ve looked at whether a TEFL certificate is necessary for getting a job teaching English and examined the financial aspect of the TEFL course, the next thing to consider is whether you personally would benefit from doing a course.

A lot of this, as I mentioned in an earlier post, depends on your personality. If you are really outgoing, then you may not need a TEFL course. If you have a really good grasp of English grammar and vocabulary and feel confident explaining it to others, then you may not need to do a TEFL course. If you are not easily phased by criticism or by being ignored (as you will encounter many students who just aren’t interested), then you may not need to complete a TEFL course.

I, for one, was quite timid before becoming a TEFL teacher (but years of teaching obnoxious kids and teenagers at summer camps brought out the raging monster in me). Before registering for my course, I had been offered a job teaching in Eastern Europe, with no previous training required. It was tempting, but the thought of getting up in front of 20-30 people on a daily basis scared me tremendously. I decided a TEFL course would give me some experience in being in front of a group as well as some confidence in my teaching abilities.

It was definitely the right decision for me. The content of the course was pretty useless (to be discussed in the next post), but being forced to stand in front of a group of strangers and fellow classmates, projecting my voice and keeping my cool when students didn’t understand or were being particularly difficult, was extremely important for me. It also helped to see other people do it, including the course trainers and the other TEFL newbies. Everyone had different backgrounds, different strengths, and different weaknesses, but I was able to see that we all seemed to encounter similar problems with the classes and students – which gave me a lot more confidence and helped me find ways to deal with these problems.

Some of the other trainees in my TEFL class were already confident in front of a group and/or had previous teaching or tutoring experience. Their main reason for doing the course – to learn specific techniques for teaching English – was obviously quite different than mine. For them, and others who fall in that category, I think a TEFL course (at least the one I did) is a big waste of time and money. To be discussed in the next post…!

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