TESOL review from Will

 

This TEFL review is from Will from the United States. After doing a lot of research, he decided that he wanted to follow a new career path in teaching English as a foreign language. Since a TEFL/TESOL course is one of the most common requirements for EFL employers worldwide, he decided to take our 120-hour online TEFL/TESOL certification course and enjoyed it a lot. Will chose the tutored version of the course and was able to ask a professional ITTT tutor any questions he might have during the course. After completing the course, he was also offered an additional 50-hour course for free and received excellent post-course services such as resume and interview preparation and access to job offers worldwide.


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.

Unit 13 involved a close study of phonetics and its use in teaching pronunciation to students. While there is some debate within the ESL community as to the prioritization of appropriate pronunciation at varying levels of study (specifically the use of the Phonemic alphabet ? most useful to advanced students), all English language students will benefit from study of appropriate pronunciation. While the Phonemic alphabet is potentially confusing and frustrating for early language learners it is something useful to students as their grasp of basic language features grows. All students can benefit from the study of the specific tools the voice and nonverbal cues have in relating the wholly formed content of a sentence (meaning, more than just the vocabulary, but the communication of emotion and indicating questions, statements etcetera) As to the specifics of this unit, intonation is where you place changes in sound and ?tone? (using voice, volume, pitch) to place emphasis on specific words or parts of words within a sentence to convey more than the vocabulary does on its own. Intonation conveys the message within the sentence. Intonation is accomplished by placing stress on individual words or on individual syllables of larger words. Three basic rules for intonation that are key to predicting the information that will follow are listed here: ? Normal intonation (statement) [RISE ? FALL) o The spoken sentence rises until the ?subject? and falls at the end of the sentence. The fall indicates that you have completed your statement. ? Second Intonation [FALL-RISE] o The spoken piece (often a question/inquiry) is used to indicate surprise, disagreement and indicates that a response is required from the listener. It is also used when the speaker is only pausing and will continue speaking. ? Third intonation [FLAT] o The flat has little if any intonation or stressors. Imagine it being used by students who don?t want to be speaking or teachers who don?t wish to interrupt the conversational flow for a student (e.g. ?please go on?). The placement of stress (emphasis) upon certain words within the sentence and conversation structure conveys meaning as much as the words themselves. Stress is how you layer more information between the words. Techniques for teaching intonation (the first basic piece of knowledge before stressing of syllables etc. is introduced) are as follows: playing with nonsense words within a sentence (using pitch, tone & volume) along with gestures. Humming, singing, and of course using the board. Another word, more specific to studying intonation, which is critical to seeing how it all works together, is ?Stress?. Stress is the tool we use to place emphasis on different parts of a sentence. Stress can be applied not only to individual words but also to individual syllables within multi-syllable words. The two rules for stress are: ? One word has only one stress and cant have two stresses. ? You can only stress syllables, not letters or individual letter sounds. o Within the multi-syllable word type there are rules for stress. ? Stress on first syllable (nouns & adjectives) ? Stress on last syllable (most verbs) ? Stress on penultimate (?ic?, ?sion? and ?tion?) ? Second to the last syllable (?-cy?, ?-ty?, ?-py? & ?-gy?, ?-ive?, ?-al?) ? Compound words (nouns:first, Adj:second, verb:second) ? Words without stress comprise most of the words you use in normal speech. While it sounds complicated it is something that can be learned with and along with vocabulary. I found the rules and guidelines very helpful. Techniques for teaching stress are contrastive (hearing it in a dramatic presentation), gestures, singing, using the board and marks on the notes. In casual spoken English sounds also join, words link, sounds drop, change and new sounds enter entirely. Challenges to teaching are very real and can involve native language crossover (sounds that are especially hard to cross into English) student language level and class comfort level. The same challenges as other areas also apply (peer participation, cultural differences, language level etcetera). Its like any student in any country ? some have aptitude and some struggle. A teacher?s role is to know her students very well and to find ways to get the key points across. The phonemic symbol/alphabet is not something you?d teach to beginning level students. Students will encounter the phonemic symbols when they look up words and it is tremendously helpful in learning pronunciation but when language is in its early phases the phonemic is like adding a second alphabet to the first (English) The phonemic alphabet is only a set of symbols that signify the way we put sounds together to form words and sentences. In fact, all languages have some kind of phonemic symbology. This unit provided a very clear table (phonemic alphabet chart) for understanding and learning the symbols, which would make a great handout for students to use as a reference for grasping the symbols. Knowing the phonemic alphabet will enable students to look up words, read the phonemic representation and learn the word for themselves The study of the physiology of speech (articulation) will enable a student to be able to visualize the anatomy of their mouth and of the parts of their body that actually make sounds. Knowing the speech organs, the ?place of articulation? and its pieces (velar, palatial, palatal-alveolar, alveolar, dental, labio-dental, bilabial and giottal) are critical to understanding how and where the sounds are formed. The ?manner of articulation? is about understanding how those pieces work to form the sounds. What you do with your tongue, palate, larynx, glottis etcetera is how the sound is formed. There are terms for each sound (plosive, frictave, nasal, lateral, affricate, approximant) and they apply to different vowels and consonants. Being able to create a sharp sound within a syllable/word that is being stressed allows intonation to have its full impact. Teaching pronunciation is only part intonation and stress. Knowing the physiology of making sounds that may be very foreign to an English language learner helps produce words that are sharp or soft and have impact. The tools for teaching a student how to use their ?place of articulation and manner of articulation? ? their mouths ? to form words go beyond drilling vocabulary. They are also peer dictation, having a student watch and see the instructor form the words (your mouth), visuals (drawings, diagrams, the board), tongue twister games and phonemes (symbols for sounds!). I found this unit particularly inspiring and challenging. My family speaks in a very specific American accent, though I am very much a chameleon when it comes to absorbing, mimicking and learning accents (& languages). I learned to place accents in different places than traditional Standard English and have come across this before but I love the study of linguistics and semantics because of my own language roots.


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