So, you have spent a considerable amount of money on taking a TEFL course. You’ve heard that everybody passes but, then again, you’ve also heard that it’s a boot camp. Well, let me tell you that not everybody passes and that a TEFL course doesn’t have to be a boot camp, as long as you make sure you’re prepared when you begin.
You ever-so-slightly concerned that you won’t make the grade. How can you maximise your chances of passing your TEFL course?
In this post, I’m going to provide 10 tips that should help you pass.
1 – Take the Pre-course tasks seriously
Make sure you complete the pre-course tasks. Don’t leave them for the night before you pass the course. Get them done early and review what the tasks before you start the course.
2 – Brush up on your Language Awareness
Make sure you buy and study the recommended language awareness books. Don’t study general grammar books because you need to learn the terminology used in English language teaching (pedagogic grammar). A good way to do this is to buy a grammar book for students (Intermediate level should be fine). Familiarise yourself with the terms and concepts.
3 – Find online resources before you start the course
Spend a few hours looking for TEFL-related material online. Think about enrolling in an online TEFL courses to get a head start. Watch videos of English classes online. Just type ‘TEFL blogs’ into Google and see what you find. Watch out though. When you start the course, you run the risk of wasting lots of time surfing the net for info and resources. It may be better to use tried and tested materials recommended by your trainers (See point 9).
4 – Review your notes on a daily basis
Input sessions in which you learn about different aspects of English language teaching will come at you thick and fast throughout the course. You’ll be learning new things every day so make sure you review your notes at the end of each day or early in the morning. Why not record yourself talking about what you’ve learnt, make mind maps, slideshows, to ensure you don’t forget.
5 – Team up with a ‘study buddy’
Trainee teachers are assessed on their ability to work with colleagues. Arrange study sessions with other trainees on the course and test each other. The best way to learn something is to teach it to somebody else so team up with another candidate and do some ‘peer-to-peer teaching’.
6 – Really pay attention in classes you observe
During the course, you will have the opportunity to watch experienced teachers – often your trainers – give classes. You will learn so much in these observed classes as these teachers will demonstrate techniques and activities which you can use in your own classes. Also, you will observe the other trainee teachers giving classes. Don’t use these classes as an opportunity to catch up on your sleep or plan your next class. Ask your trainer for specific observation tasks and ask your fellow trainees if you would like to focus on any specific areas (giving instructions, corrections, classroom management). Remember that your trainer will expect you to give some useful feedback to the other trainees during the feedback sessions.
7 – Listen carefully to your tutor’s feedback – and don’t take it personally!
Nobody likes being observed and some of us have a real problem receiving constructive criticism. Your trainers want you to pass the course because it reflects well on them. If you feel deflated by the feedback, ask your trainer for some practical advice on what to do to improve. Also, don’t compare your teaching performance with other trainees – you want to pass the course not ‘out-teach’ your fellow trainees.
8 – Learn how to plan effectively and efficiently
Many trainee teachers spend too much time planning and not enough time rehearsing the lesson. Your plan should be clear and concise but it does not have to be a work of art. Also, the plan you give to your trainee may not be a working plan that you can refer to in the lesson. Make yourself a simple plan that you can refer to while you’re teaching.
9 – Use approved reference materials when planning
The internet can be a trainee teacher’s greatest enemy. You have to teach the Present Perfect and decide to do some online research. 6 hours later you’re still looking for the perfect activity or grammatical explanation, glance at your watch, and realise you have to start the class in 10 minutes. Refer to reference materials and resources created especially for language learners. They should provide you with the information you need to prepare your plan. Remember that you have to teach according to the level of the learners and provide them with lots of activities that will allow them to practise the language you want to teach them. In other words, keep your language explanations simple and practical.
10 – Make sure you meet the criteria of each unit
In order to pass the course, you need to meet the requirements of each unit. Nothing more, nothing less. TEFL courses are initial teacher training courses which means that you are not expected to reinvent the wheel. Use check-lists to ensure you do everything that is expected of you on the course. You may not think certain tasks are particularly useful but you need to complete them to pass your TEFL course. If you have any complaints or suggestions, wait until the end of the course or the external moderation.