Tuesday, October 16, 2007

To TEFL or Not to TEFL? (Part IV)

Finally, I want to talk about the content of a TEFL course. To me, it was all pretty useless, for several reasons:

1) My course focused primarily on teaching groups of 8 or more students. In five years of teaching English in Spain – not counting summer camp – I had TWO classes with three or more students. And the largest of those two classes had five students. The bulk of my classes were one-on-one, so all of that practice designing group activities was 100% useless.

2) Most of the teaching ideas I got in the course were good, but:

a. They were, as stated above, useless because I never had a chance to put them in action.

b. Most of the classes I’ve taught were required to follow a book, with little room for such activities.

c. Many of the activities taught in the course are available online on a number of TEFL activity Web sites, such as Sarah and John’s TEFL Pitstop.

d. The “students” we taught in the course (people who came in off the street for a few hours of free English class each week) had been attending these TEFL trainee-led lessons for some time, so they knew exactly what was expected of them and how to behave, respond, etc. It’s a completely different world when you step in front of a group of kids who don’t respect their own parents, much less their English tutor, or a few businessmen and women who are being forced to learn English and are really just thinking about when they can take their next coffee break.

3) Again, the only large-group lessons I taught were with kids – and in my 30-day TEFL course we spent only 2 hours talking about how to teach kids.

4) The type of classes we were expected to do in the TEFL course required days and days of preparation – for a one-hour class! Any EFL teacher foolish enough to spend that much time preparing a one-hour class is just an idiot.

So there you have it, the last of the four factors you should think about when deciding whether to do a TEFL certificate. Whatever you decide to do – good luck!

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