Too good to be true?

Instruction: 2
Support: 6
Value: 7
Academic Rigor: 8
Job Assistance: 6

I wish to start by saying that before I applied I tried to do as much research as I could about the college before applying. I looked at the reviews I watched the youtube videos and thought this must be too good to be true. Turns out it was.

If you google 'The English Teacher Training College' or 'ABCi' you'll find blogs and forums with more honest feedback.

The main reason I applied was due to the low cost and the chance to get the Cert TESOL qualification. The reality is that the training for this qualification is left on the back burner and there are hardly any training sessions on teaching methodologies, language awareness, and other aspects. Although I have managed to pass my assignments I am still coming away feeling disappointed and that I haven't really earned the Cert TESOL. Comments have been made by the moderator from Trinity that the course is currently not to standard due to the complete lack of adult teaching that is involved. Be prepared that all your assignments, exams and portfolios will all be due at once at the very end of your course.

On a daily basis you will be expected to travel to school with a senior-teacher and teach the ABCi programme to either Volksschule (primary) or NMS (secondary) school children. The programme is very repetitive and mainly consists of playing games whilst you talk English and try get them to respond to you. As such I feel we increase the confidence of the students but no actual new teaching is provided to them.

Living Conditions
There are currently 3 campuses (Vorchdorf, Pressbaum and Wolfsberg). I spent the first 4 weeks in Pressbaum before changing over to Wolfsberg. Pressbaum is in a great location due to its proximity to Vienna. However, the girls are living inside a boarding school with only a tiny fridge and a microwave. I found myself attempting to cook eggs and pasta in the microwave and using the kettle to make couscous - 4 weeks dragged on. The boys live in a shared small flat, also next to the school. When I was there the flat was infested with ants with 1 kitchen and 1 washing machine between upto 20+ student teachers.
I spent the rest of my time in 'Wolfsberg' the closest town. The campus is actually located in a remote village called Frantschach St Getraud. The village has one shop that is very expensive and you would not be able to get all of your groceries from there. The house sits opposite a giant paper factory so please expect a lot of noise and pollution. It smells a lot too. Due to its location you are about a 50min walk to the nearest town of Wolfsberg where there are more shops, bars and restaurants. To get anywhere else it is very costly on the bus even with the discount OBB card.

Currently there is very little standardisation across the campuses or across different members of staff. Senior teachers with have different sets of expectations for different student teachers. There is a lot of talk about professionalism. Most of the staff are anything but. There has been several circumstances that have been considered questionable and inappropriate and when discussed with senior management they don't appear to take it seriously. There are many instances of favouritism, senior teachers will give special treatment to those they like and partially victimise others.

Free time
After transferring to Wolfsberg we found out that there was a campus car that has been made available to student teachers who volunteer to drive. During the weekends the group made several road trips to Venice, Trieste, Hallstatt, Lake Bled, Ljubljana and Klagenfurt. Having the car has been a huge highlight of the trip for me as it made central Europe more accessible and travelling by road was extremely scenic. Whilst living in Pressbaum we were able to take the bus to Budapest for the weekend.

To summarise you will get your Cert TESOL but the chances are you will be living unhappily and overworked. Had it not been for the support of fellow student teachers going through the same situation I would've considered quitting. A fate many others did choose. If you are in the position to do so I would do this course elsewhere, although the course appears to be value for money you will spend far more than you would expect to on food and excursions. If you do decide to come on the course the more organised you can be the better, get to know your colleagues and try and enjoy it. :)

Would you recommend this program?
No, I would not
Year Completed
Private Note to Provider (optional)
The programme and organisation of the Cert TESOL component needs completely reworked. Too many weeks are focused on teaching the ABCi programme in schools when training sessions on Cert TESOL and language awareness could be given.
It took months to get marks back for the first assignment which led to backlog of marking the subsequent assignments. This meant people were resubmitting assignments for moderation the day before.
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