Alumni Spotlight: Tatiana Ishkova

Tatiana was born in a remote Czech-speaking village in the Omsk region of Siberia, Russia. She graduated from Omsk State Pedagogic University in 1995. Tatiana has been in love with the English language and teaching since 1995. She has visited different corners of the world, encouraged a lot of young people to study English and choose the field of languages to further their lives and careers, and has inspired a lot of ambitious youngsters to study abroad and win grants! She is proud of all of her students' achievements and success.

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Why did you choose this program?

I came to Prague for permanent residency and to continue my career as an English teacher. I wanted to get familiar with the methodology and approaches in teaching English to multi-language groups of students as well as monolingual groups of students (without speaking the students' language).

I chose CertTESOL after some thorough consideration based on reading the information about it on the internet. It sounded sensible and challenging and I knew it could help me brush up my knowledge as well as learn something new.

What did your program provider assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

The provider of my program helped me at the initial stage with preparing for the course (there was an interview via Skype when I was assessed as a potential candidate; there was also a pre-course test that gave me a general understanding of the language scope to be mastered and there was a lot of material in each category that I could familiarize myself with).

Other things, such as the whole process of studying, materials and audio-visual aids were provided by the school (OxfordTEFL in Prague). The school also provided me with experienced tutors' assistance as well as books and overall guidance through the whole intensive course.

I had to organize my time (for self-study and preparing for classes) on my own. I had to organize papers for my TPLog as well as Language Learner's Profile (if I had doubts, I always could ask any tutor for help). I had to work on some self-reflection myself, and I found it to be a very good helpful part of my lesson analysis.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

If you are ambitious and love communication, you should definitely join the course as it can give you more than just self-development (which is important at any age), the opportunity to travel and work at the same time in any corner of the globe.

I wish I had known more (and earlier) about the format of moderation and self-developed material assignment as that was one of the most important stages in the course and quite responsible too.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

There are four weeks and they are all different because each week focuses on different target materials produced by a trainee. An average day might look like this:

  • 8:30 am - 10 am: Teaching rehearsal (Course Director available 9:15 am - 9:45 am)
  • 10 am - 11:30 am: Teaching Practice (you deliver a lesson of 20, 45, or 60 minutes)
  • 11:45 am - 12:30 pm: Feedback (self-reflection and analysis of the class delivered together with your peer-trainee and experienced tutor)
  • 1:15 pm - 1:45 pm: Lesson Planning (confirm the time with a tutor, you prepare the lesson plan for the next day -- first on your own, then you can discuss it with a tutor)
  • 2 pm - 3 pm: Grammar (part 9 modal verbs, you learn grammar)
  • 3:15 pm - 4:15 pm: Grammar (you review grammar)
  • Notes: Hand in Learner Profile at 1 pm (reference your time-table all the time as the dates and times for every piece of material are mentioned there)

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I was afraid of explaining the meaning of some words that the students did not know. It was difficult at the beginning as I am used to quickly translating the English word but it does not work with the multi-lingual group.

I learned other ways of explaining the meanings of the words apart from just giving a definition from the dictionary. Learning Unknown Language (a special block in the course) helped a lot. Now I believe that it is even more fun explaining some vocabulary without using the translation or the dictionary.

Did you have to change your pronunciation (say American to British) in order to correspond to English textbooks?

No, of course not. You have your own accent that makes you unique. Yet, it is advisable to get familiar with IPA and just sometimes slow down and articulate! It is also good to look up some words in the dictionary just to see how they can be pronounced in some variants of English and pay attention to their meaning!