TEFL review from Paavani


This TEFL review is from Paavani. She is from Ohio, USA, but just moved to South Korea where she will work as an English teacher. As this will be her first full-time teaching position, she decided to take our online TEFL/TESOL program to get the best possible foundation in teaching before starting her new position. After completing the course, she feels ready and prepared to teach Korean students in her own EFL classroom and she recommends this course to other new teachers.

Below you can read feedback from an ITTT graduate regarding one section of their online TEFL certification course. Each of our online courses is broken down into concise units that focus on specific areas of English language teaching. This convenient, highly structured design means that you can quickly get to grips with each section before moving onto the next.

There are different groups that teachers might have to teach. One is beginners. There are different types of beginners - those who are completely new to the language, absolute beginners; those who have had some education in English before but have forgotten most of it, false beginners; different ages of beginners, who have different levels of motivation to learn and different rates of uptake; and finally beginners who aren't familiar with the roman alphabet. When teaching beginners it is important to be aware of their needs; have realistic aims that are clear to the students; use lots of visuals and be clear when using the board; use simple instructions and controlled language; ensure your page is suitable for the students; use choral repetition and pairs or groups; and finally make sure to encourage their use of English and avoid using their mothertongue. To keep students motivated don't correct their mistakes too much, keep the classroom environment relaxed, praise the students and explain your methods. When teaching individuals, there are both pros and cons. The benefits include that there is only one level for the class rather than the mixed abilities usually found in groups. The students are also will be more motivated as it is likely their choice to study English. The needs of the student will be most obvious to the teacher in a one to one environment and it will also allow you to form a close relationship with that student. However there are also drawbacks: there is a loss of the dynamic environment found in a classroom; some activities which involve more people are impossible; and this type of class can often be very tiring. When teaching in this manner it is important for the teacher to exchange phone numbers with the student; relate the lesson to the student's interests; and ensure that the activities used are varied. Activities can include reading short stories, magazine articles or horoscopes, doing quizzes together, discussing taboo words or topical news, and watching videos. Homework can include the student reading a book to discuss in the next lesson, or preparing an oral presentation on a topic they are interested in. Children are another group many teachers find themselves working with. The most important part of teaching young children is keeping them engaged with the lesson. Children need frequent changes of activity to stimulate them and prevent them getting bored. As a teacher, make sure you use English for instructions and do not then repeat the instructions in their own language as then they will not try to understand your original English instructions. Make sure to speak slowly, use gestures or act to explain and don't be afraid to make fun of yourself as you want the kids to have fun. Ensure you have lots of colouring pencils, crayons and paper for the students and use stickers as a reward for their work. When teaching children there might be times when discipline is required in the class. As discussed in previous units, raising your voice will not help the situation, nor will issuing threats or physically hitting the student. Discipline may be necessary because the students want attention, are facing peer pressure, are bored, the teacher is not consistent, or they are dealing with problems outside of school. For all except the last, the teacher can make changes in the class to change the situation the student faces that is causing the problems. Try giving the problematic student a role, such as your assistant, to engage them and give them more attention, or change the seating arrangement in the class to change who the student interacts with. The final group that often require English teaching is those wanting to use English for Business of special purposes (ESP) such as hotel staff who need to be able to communicate with English speaking customers. These lessons can be one to one, or a group in the school or the business. Clients in these groups often vary by both age and ability, depending on how the group has been organised (such as by departments in the company). They are also often tired as classes will often take place after the end of their work hours and detract from their time at home. As a result of this, it can also be hard to assign homework as they are pressured by both home and work. It is also important that the teacher recognizes the dynamics within the group, as this may involved a boss or higher ranked individual learning alongside their employees, and it is important that they are not embarrassed. When these lessons are organised by the company it is most essential that you balance the students' (clients') needs with the needs of the company. At the start of the course, it is best to give the clients a needs analysis form or hold an informal chat to understand what the student wants from the course and where they stand before the course begins. Then try to prioritize what the group needs from that information. Also reassure the students that the course is flexible to their changing needs and have a discussion with the clients mid-way through the course to ensure these needs are being met and check whether they have changed at all. Finally, teachers could be working with either multilingual or monolingual classes. In multilingual classes, normally based in English-speaking countries, the students might only have English as a common language which will force them to use English to communicate with each other. Also as there are more cultures involved in the class, there is also likely to be more ideas generated. In monolingual classes, normally help in the students' home country, they will all speak the same first language and, because of this, likely also face the same problems when learning English.

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