TESOL stands for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and I have just completed the course and got my certificate – Yay! This course (Trinity College of London) not only qualifies me to teach English as a foreign language anywhere in the world, but was also a wonderful journey into the English language and its intricacies! I also enjoyed being part of a group of trainee teachers and we have all forged new friendships and a WhatsApp group and help each other sharing lessons plans and advice.
My TESOL course was run by The Ardmore Group and based at The Old Woking Community Centre, in Sundridge Road, Woking, GU22 9AT and the main contact is Colin Spicer – email: email@example.com Mobile. 07880354664. At this centre, Ardmore offers free language classes to students from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures: au pairs, housewives who are from abroad and speak poor English and want to improve, people in business in the UK, people working here….These students enable the trainee teachers to be able to practice their lesson plans and get some practical experience teaching.
This company runs other courses elsewhere so do get in touch with them for more information.
There were two reasons for doing the course: I run Volunteer Vacations and take groups abroad where we teach English as a foreign language and over the years have realised that those volunteers who have done similar courses were so much better organised and structured than myself. The other reason was that I spent my teenage years in a Portuguese school in Faro and, hence, my English could be much improved!
It was hard work but very worthwhile. The course lasted 14 weeks and started off with 3 full days – a Saturday, Sunday and Monday – to really get us into what the course was all about. After that, I attended group lessons in Woking on a Tuesday evening from 6pm to 9.30pm. There were two other Saturdays where we were required to be there for the day and also the final Moderation with the Assessor took place on a Friday.
Learning an Unknown Language is an important aspect of the course and we were given 4 sessions on Russian! This really helped to bring home how difficult it is for those students who find our alphabet different and language totally alien!
It was important to keep up with the work, to keep meticulous notes, file all the handouts, to do your ‘homework’ and lesson plans as soon as possible (these took days…..starting with one idea……then changing it to something different….it was definitely a learning process!) and I could see it would be very easy to fall behind and find it impossible to keep up.
The TESOL method of teaching is a communicative approach to teaching English, getting the students to speak 80% of the time and the teacher only 20% of the time. The teacher models the language and encourages the students to work in pairs and speak to each other discussing questions and scenarios. Preparing the lessons was the hardest aspect but one of the benefits of the TESOL course is that the trainee teachers get to prepare 5 lessons and deliver them to different groups giving them practical experience. This is very different to ‘on-line’ courses. The groups I taught were either lower intermediate or intermediate and were of mixed nationalities and ages.
We are also assigned our own Student and built up a profile on them by firstly assessing them in all aspects of their English knowledge and abilities, then designing and delivering a one-to-one lesson to address their weaknesses, following up with planning 5 Remedial lessons to help them progress again in the areas where they are the weakest.
Trainee Teachers are taught a number of different ways of presenting their main context for the lessons – a text, an audio file, something from Youtube, using ‘realia’ – such as different fruits and vegetables if the context was ‘going shopping’, using a well-known song… As well as the context, there is the introduction of new vocabulary and nearly always a grammatical aim – teaching say “the third conditional”, “idioms” or “phrasal verbs” to the higher level groups or just the “simple present” and “simple past” for the lower groups. Pronunciation and intonation are also important aspects of the teaching as how we pronounce a phrase can alter the meaning considerably if we put the stress on the wrong word! At the end of the lesson, there is always a “production” where the students use freely the new words and grammar that they have learnt.
I really recommend this course specially for anyone contemplating volunteering abroad and teaching English and also for people wanting an extra income stream in the UK. Towards the end of the course, we were given a couple of pages of organisations that all employ TESOL teachers both in the UK and worldwide.
I have my first student – a 17 year old refugee from Africa and have delivered a couple of lessons to him already. On the last lesson, I realised that his knowledge was far superior than I had thought, also he is learning so quickly and asked him what areas he felt he was lacking in. He replied “phrasal verbs and the third conditional” – I didn’t wince (as I might have a few months earlier) and am now delving into my Phrasal Verbs book and working on a plan for the next few weeks….
(Jill runs Volunteer Vacations – www.volunteervacations.co.uk – and sends volunteers abroad to work on many projects including Teaching. If you would like to know more about volunteering as an English teacher abroad with Volunteer Vacations, drop Jill an email on: firstname.lastname@example.org or give her a ring on 07833 208 158.
Jill recommends that a TESOL teaching course would greatly benefit any volunteer contemplating teaching abroad as it makes it easier for them to plan their lessons and the children they will be teaching will benefit more from the experience too)