I often find that starting something new can be a bit daunting, my TEFL course was no exception. As with most things in life, I had some preconceived thoughts and feelings about what to expect when you're learning to teach English as a foreign language. In some instances, I was right, but in others I was way off the mark. Here are my top findings from completing my TEFL course.
Expectation: Deadlines are very important for me as they keep me motivated. I thought that I would get up every day and do at least an hour of my TEFL course. I'd be finished it within 3 weeks, maximum.
Reality: Life happens! Some weeks I got more done than others. Sometimes I did an entire module in one day, then didn't revisit the course for a week and a half. Everyone is different, but I did find that setting myself achievable targets really helped to keep me motivated and working towards completing the course with ample time to spare in case of any major, unforeseen disasters.
Expectation: The content would be incredibly complex, testing my level of English proficiency. I would have to read, and read, and read so much information that I would stop taking it in eventually.
Reality: The course was actually, dare I say it, fun! You're obviously doing it because you have an interest in ESL teaching. In turn, this makes the course engaging. Some bits are trickier than others – English grammar is bizarre – but I never once felt out of my depth or completely useless.
Yes, there is a certain amount of reading but there are also videos. The videos star our lovely EF English First teachers in their very own classrooms. These clips varied in length, but they definitely got me really excited and eager to get to my destination and start teaching my own classes.
Expectation: I would take lots of notes, they would all be incredibly relevant and useful, my notebook would become my best friend within the world of ESL teaching.
Reality: This one actually wasn't too far off at all. I had a very specific and structured way of taking notes, some may call it meticulous, which I stuck to throughout my entire TEFL course. I love stationary so I also saw this as a great excuse to add to my collection. And in case you wondered - yes, my notes are colour-coded.
(For those who are interested, here is my methodology:
Take rough notes as you work through each module.
After completing a module, review your rough notes and transfer them neatly and coherently into a notebook that you intend to keep.
Note down any exercises you may want to include in lessons in a separate section of your notebook.)
I'm sure that everyone will have different experiences from their own TEFL course, but these are mine. Maybe you had a similar experience to me, maybe you found one particular part really interesting and couldn't wait to be done with another section, maybe you don't relate to any of this and had a totally unique experience. Perhaps you're reading this about to embark on your own TEFL adventure and if so, I wish you the best of luck in your learning.