I honestly feel bad for having taken so long to write a review of the Trinity CertTESOL program at Oxford House, as I completed the course in June of 2017. However, the truth of that matter is that I have been too busy working as an English teacher to have a chance to do so, which is exactly what you will get if you put in the time and effort to obtain this certification: solid, full-time employment, particularly if you decide to stay in Prague.
There are dozens of schools in Prague that offer some type of TESOL/TEFL/ESL certification, but if you are looking to make teaching English a career, a new vocation, or simply a means of making money no matter where in the world you find yourself, there are only two options; the Cambridge CELTA and the Trinity CertTESOL. These two certifications are the gold standard for the TESOL industry, and will help you gain employment at the best and most reputable schools in practically any country. When my wife and I decided to leave our corporate lives and move abroad to teach English, we knew that we needed one of these two certifications to be successful, and did a lot of research to find the school that best fit our needs. In the end, our choice was Oxford House and the Trinity CertTESOL in Prague, as they consistently proved to be superior in a number of different ways.
The first thing that set Oxford House apart was their website. Any and all information one might need is readily available in a format that is easy to read, and arranged in an orderly fashion. Second, the responsiveness of the staff was outstanding. If, at any time, we had a question about the school, the course, the requirements, Prague, etc., we simply sent an email to Karin, the course coordinator. She would always respond in a timely manner with just the information you were looking for, and also followed up with us as the beginning of the course drew near in case we had any last minute needs. Lastly, the post-course support offered in the form of visa support and lifetime employment assistance were big selling points. Many of the schools in Prague that we researched had employment assistance that amounted to “You have ‘X’ certification! Just go to the schools with your CV!”. Oxford House has graduates and contacts all over the world, so no matter where you wish to go, they can supply the support and introductions you need to obtain employment at a reputable school. Once we decided that Oxford House was the place for us to pursue our certification, we applied and following our interviews were accepted. That is when we realized what they meant by “Intensive”.
Oxford House tries to prepare incoming trainees for the intensity of the course, but it is hard to describe just how much work and dedication it requires to complete the Trinity CertTESOL. The second day of the course, you are in front of live, adult students of English (yikes!) trying to figure out how you’re going to teach for 30 minutes! Training days are fairly consistent; you either teach in the morning, or observe one of your fellow classmates teaching. After teaching the class, your tutor gives you feedback on what went well, what didn’t, and gives you valuable feedback on how to improve. The teaching time is gradually increased over the span of the course to where you are teaching for up to 90 minutes at a time. The lesson planning guidance from your tutor also lessens as you get deeper in the course, to where you simply tell them your idea and you create your own lessons. This helps build your confidence and you teach you the best ways to craft a lesson plan based on your students. The teaching and lesson planning is only part of the program, however. There are also three large projects that need completed before you are granted your certificate.
The first project is the Unknown Language Journal, in which you spend a week learning a new language (in our case Swedish), and then reflect on the experience. This is not meant to really teach you a language (though I might be able to order a beer were I to visit Sweden), but rather to help you understand what your students are feeling. It is a great exercise in empathy. The second project is the Learner Profile, a pronunciation, phonology, and speech analysis of a student selected from your classes. A recording is made of their speech, and you analyze their language usage, vocabulary, pronunciation, tendencies based on their L1, etc.. While at times overwhelming, this project proves valuable in that it helps you recognize and subsequently address the language learning needs of your student. Finally, there is the Materials Project, where you have to create an original lesson material or highly modify existing lesson material, and then present this project to an external auditor from Trinity College. This is a good exercise for those (like me) who aren’t skilled at coming up with original ideas.
Oh, and did I mention that there was a language examination at the end of the course covering phonology, grammar, tenses, and other assorted English goodies? That’s right, an examination. It can be pretty stressful if you’ve not taken an exam in 20 years!
In the end, this was both the longest and shortest month in our lives, and I’ve not worked this hard at something in many years; but was it worth it?
In the week following our completion of the course, my wife and I had a combined 15 interviews with schools in Prague and received 15 offers. Once we obtained our visas we were teaching week-long intensive courses for two months straight which included IELTS preparation, and have been continually employed ever since. There have even been weeks when we turned down more jobs than we actually worked. If you want to stay in Prague and teach after completing this course, there will be more than enough work for you if you put in the effort. The Trinity CertTESOL program at Oxford House will prepare you for whatever Prague has in store.