The CertTESOL for me was an important stepping-stone in my career as a teacher. I came from the hospitality and hotel background, I worked as a teacher/tutor throughout the years as a way to provide for myself financially, and decided to make the transition to education full-time last year. I decided that it was important to get qualified as a teacher, and looked at a various number of teaching certificates out there to get me started.
I had a friend who did the CertTESOL at English for Asia (EFA), and he told me it was something worthwhile to do if you want to continue your career in this field. I considered it, looked into a bunch of various different programs, and applied for the Trinity CertTESOL at EFA. I filled out the application and did the pre-interview task. Don’t feel intimidated by the pre-interview task, it gives you an idea on what you’re getting into. If you can’t handle it, then expect to study hard or consider giving yourself more time before continuing with the interview process and the actual course.
I knew coming into the course from my friend that it was going to be difficult, it was going to tear me apart, I was going to cry… but there’s so much you can actually prepare for. But I’ve done tough things in my life, and was ready to take it head on. I guess my first tip is be able to type a lot on a computer, a fellow CertTESOL course mate estimated the words she wrote throughout the course and it came to 34,000 in a month. I didn’t find this too hard as I’m use to typing a lot on my computer.
There are a various number of assignments, and be aware of all the weightings. At the end of the day you just need to pass all of them, there won’t be a letter grade on your certificate, but it may be helpful if you’re going to apply back to university like I plan to.
Would I do this course again? YES! Do I recommend you do it? Well consider to do it part-time or full-time. If you can’t handle stress and 2-8 hours of work every night, I guess take the part-time course.
I rated the program all 10’s except for the job assistance of which I gave a 6. Why? Well, English for Asia has a career placement team, I’ve applied for some positions through them but haven’t had any luck getting anything. I know the department has a lot of work, a lot of other teachers to deal with so I don't at all blame them for not getting a position through them. Do expect to send out your own CVs to agencies, schools on your own. There are a lot of jobs out there. But I rated it a 6 because there isn’t a guarantee they can place you in a school, not because of their efforts.
English for Asia is a great company, and you will make friends for life.
Be prepared to have a lack of sleep for the whole month. You will be tired. You will be emotional. But work together as a course and support each other. Share materials, help each other on projects, share ideas. If you’re a selfish person, you might have a hard time. It’s not a competition… we’re all adults and we are just trying to further develop ourselves professionally.
This course is very reflective. You might see it as a course just writing 34,000 words of bullsh*t, but I found it very insightful. I saw myself develop a lot over the course, and I could see how much I changed from when I started to when I finished. I understood what I needed to do by the end of the course to develop myself to become a better future teacher.
You will cry or breakdown at some point. I guess I was the biggest guy on the course… and yeah I broke down.
Have fun, you will have breaks. Have a dance party, tell some jokes, learn about each other, be silly. Let the stress leave your body at times.
The trainers will help you along the way. Don’t be scared. But don’t go to them last minute and expect a ton of help. They’re busy too, they have a ton of things to mark, on top of their own classes to prepare for during the GOJ period.
You will get tutorials to learn about grammar, phonology, teaching methods, and a lot more. Pay attention to them, don’t skip lessons… A lot of the stuff they teach from the first day will be on your language awareness test at the end of the course. If you’re a native English speaker like me, and you can’t handle grammar, don't worry, you will learn enough in the classes to pass the test.
Practice your IPA throughout the course… many people found this very challenging, I did too. But I spent a bit more time than some of the other individuals and did well on my final test.
Make friends. Don’t push yourself away and hide. But don’t be the annoying person who can’t manage to do anything.
Work with your group, you will have an assigned group for your teaching practices, talk with them, they’ll help you out.
The assignments are: Guided Observation Journal (GOJ), Unknown Language Journal (ULJ), Teaching Practice (TP), Learner Profile (LP), and the Materials Assignment (MA). There will be a language awareness test too, but it’s not too bad if you do a little studying and focus during all the lessons provided by the trainers.
The GOJ: 4 lessons dedicated to watching the trainers in action. You will write a 500-1000 word journal to reflect on their teaching styles, and what you thought was good and bad. You may think you can just type out any 500-1000 words and get the pass, but you really should reflect on how they teach and how you might integrate it. Throughout the classes, you get to see what skills they implement in the class, and the styles you should try to master. We covered a few areas, vocabulary teaching, classroom management (including board work, seating), grammar teaching. Don’t take this stage for granted, paying attention is important and adapting it to your own teaching style will help for your own teaching practice that follows.
The ULJ: 4 lessons dedicated to watching an experienced teacher teaching you a completely new language at a beginners level. You get to understand what it feels like to be an absolute beginner, this really helps if you work with young children as you get to understand what it’s like to somewhat be in their shoes. Not all the lessons go smoothly, but the overall concept is for you to see what works and what doesn’t, especially for beginners, and how you can relate it to past experiences and in order to create quality future teaching experiences.
The TPs: We had 8 of them. The first two, you teach different parts of the lesson with your assigned group mates. You get to choose to teach the beginning, middle or end. DON’T DO THE SAME ONE FOR BOTH PRACTICES. YOU WILL GET IN A WHOLE WORLD OF HURT. You can only observe so much, and it’s best to get your feet wet and mess up in the first TPs rather than the 3rd to the 8th one. They gradually get graded a lot heavier. An A during the first two TPs will be a B at the 3rd and 4th. But the grading is fair so don’t worry. We had a couple of fights amongst trainers and trainees, but in general, most of the marking was fair. This part of the course is weighted about 40% I believe, so don’t mess it up… otherwise you will end up re-teaching classes and that takes up a lot of time. Read the rubric! READ IT PLEASE. I wish I did, but sometimes you just have to tick the boxes.
Best tip, learn to CCQ, ICQ, and ECQ effective, they will save you on time and lessons will go a lot more smoothly. If you want to get an A, you will need to do them.
You get to teach anything you want, you can create your own material as long as it relates to the class objective. You will teach a grammar lesson, a vocabulary lesson, a writing lesson, speaking lesson, the list goes on. Be prepared to get all your skills tested as a teacher. The only lesson I had an issue with was the pronunciation lesson, we had to set context for the lesson and found it challenging to design the lesson as we didn’t have a lesson taught to us by the trainers on how to design a pronunciation lesson for the students the trainees teach.
You get a lot of assistance for your TPs, but please just stay ahead of the game. Ask the right questions, you’ll get the right answers. Your evaluations you write at the end of your TP will help in pulling up your grade. I averaged a B+ and got pulled up to an A- because I reflected well.
You will get feedback on every lesson, listen to it. If you don’t… well, you will re-teach classes. Sorry… but that’s how it goes. It’s about continuous improvement, and if you stick to your bad teaching habits, you’re going to have a hard time progressing through this course. Time is so important throughout this course, don’t waste it!
The LP: I loved this project. First, pick a learner who can speak to you in English without you having to translate every word. This might help… look towards the really strong students in the elementary class, or pre-intermediate students. It's a huge assignment, mine was approx. 8,000 words by the end of everything. Get typing, and get your analysis tables checked. They aren’t too hard, but require time. A lot of it is critical analysis, but the tables take a lot of grammar and phonology skills, which a lot of trainees have a difficulty with. I liked this assignment because it prepared me mentally for future students I get and how to map their progression in my head. Don’t be intimidated by the 8,000 words, it all mounts up, but just get started sooner rather than later. If you’re still writing up things in the last week, well… like I said, time is important, and you have wasted your time. I spent my weekends do this project along with lesson planning, and as a result I didn’t have to pull my hair out at the end of the course. Just get your tables done ASAP, get them checked. If they say you only have to do 2 columns for analysis, but they recommend you to do 4, DO 4! It will save you time and your grade in the end.
The MA: This is pass or fail. No letter grade is attached to it. You will have to design a worksheet, game, or some other piece of material for this assignment. Get your MA done by TP 5 because if you leave it to TP 6,7 or 8… well you’ve left it too late to let your trainer check it, for you to do a decent write up, and to do a practice interview.
The write up is 450-550 words, not one word over or under. It’s harsh. It’s got to be clear and concise. If you write a lot like I do, well, it’s tough. But I gave myself enough time to get it sorted. The write up is the first part of the assessed assignment, the second part is the interview, and it’s a breeze. If you know your materials off by heart, you’re going to pass with flying colours. Make sure you have a practice interview with the trainers, it helps a lot. Remember Trinity wants you to pass, and they will help you the best they can.
If you have decided to take the course, do this one and not any other. It might be the most expensive, but it’s the most worthwhile!
Good luck and best wishes to a month of learning, stress, and pain. It’s all worth it, trust me!