The TEFL Guide- What to Expect!
The Trinity CertTESOL course here at TEFL in Spain is a whirlwind, fun-filled rollercoaster tour of TEFL teaching – ultimately comprised of four written reflective assignments and observed live teaching practice, along with input sessions focusing on language awareness, teaching techniques and careers advice, among many other elements! If it sounds like a lot, well, it is, but it’s doable! We will break down the different assignments within the course into more manageable chunks for you to digest!
TESOL, CELTA, TEFL?!?
So, firstly we need to set the record straight! What do all of these acronyms mean?
TEFL: This is the industry that we work in and it stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language.
TESOL: The Trinity CertTESOL is a recognized qualification – accredited by Trinity College London (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
Online Blended TESOL: This is the NEW online version of the Trinity CertTESOL course which has two components; 8-weeks online plus 2-weeks face to face. This is also accredited by Trinity College London.
CELTA: This is a recognized qualification – accredited by Cambridge (Certificate of English Language Teaching to Adults).
IMPORTANT – There are of course many online TEFL courses and weekend TEFL courses – most of which are unaccredited and not recognized by employers. They say you get what you pay for, so do your research and make sure you complete an accredited and recognized TEFL course which has an external governing body (Trinity College London or Cambridge).
At TEFL in Spain, we offer the TESOL and the Online Blended TESOL. What can you expect from the course? How much homework will you have? We will explain all…
TESOL Assignment 1: Unknown Language Journal
Arguably, the most fun element of the course, the Unknown Language Journal (ULJ) is a voyage of discovery for our trainees. Designed to replicate a TEFL classroom with an immersive approach to learning, the trainees are spoken to solely in the unknown language, from the very beginning!
Now, although this may seem daunting, it is surprising how much one can learn when the teacher uses paralinguistic cues, like facial expressions, realia and body language.
The unknown languages vary, depending on the previous language learning experiences of the trainees on the course, but in the past, we’ve taught Russian, Urdu, Greek, Swahili, Turkish, Portuguese and Cornish! That’s something to brag about back home!
Trainees write the Unknown Language Journal about the 4 lessons they have experienced, answering honestly to questions such as ‘How did being corrected make you feel?’ or ‘What methodologies did you take away from the lesson?’ Of all of the assignments, it could be argued to be the most fun to fill out, and considerably shorter than the Learner Profile Assignment – that’s for sure!
TESOL Assignment 2: Guided Observation Journal
This journal (GOJ) is filled out in a similar style to that of the Unknown Language Journal. The difference, however, is that the trainee takes on the role of the observer, as opposed to the student.
Our trainees observe 4 classes, taught by qualified teachers, making notes as an observer. The classes last for 60 or 90 minutes. One of the classes may also be a video, previously recorded in a TEFL classroom. They will later reflect on their experience observing, answering similarly-styled questions, such as ‘What ideas did you obtain from observing this lesson?’ and ‘How effectively were the materials used?’
Trainees generally find this assignment to be extremely helpful in their own teaching, because they see classroom strategies in action, and can decide which they think would work in their own classroom.
TESOL Assignment 3: Learner Profile
Well, well, well… where to begin with the Learner Profile Assignment?
Most trainees find this to be the most useful and interesting assignment on the course, however, they also find it to be the most intense and time-consuming!
Within this unit, each trainee is assigned an individual learner, with whom they have an initial meeting to assess their language level in the different disciplines (reading, writing, speaking, listening). Following on from this, the trainee must carry out an in-depth analysis of the learner’s needs, looking at language 1 interference, phonological, lexical and grammatical errors in both speaking and writing and taking into account the learner’s motivation for learning (e.g. for a professional context / general conversational English). Bonus points if you mention the ‘schwa’ sound here! (It’s just a sound that is commonly added by mistake to the end of words, don’t worry!)
Sound like a lot? Fear not! The trainers are fully aware that this assignment will feel a little overwhelming, and there are PLENTY of focus sessions and extra support if ever you need it.
After the initial analysis, you will then teach the learner for an hour, a lesson that you’ve planned specifically for them, based on their individual needs.
You’ll do a rough plan for 5 more lessons (but don’t worry – you won’t have to teach them too!) and give a general summary of how the lesson went, what you would change in the future, and how useful the process of the assignment has been for you.
Easy-peasy, right? Honestly, this takes a long time to do, but the course is designed to incorporate the workload, so there really is no need to panic because it’ll all get done in plenty of time!
TESOL Assignment 4: Materials Assignment
This is the final assignment of the course, revolving around a material you will have designed yourself, and incorporated into one of your Teaching Practices! It’s usually used in either TP6 or TP7, as these are your final lessons of the course and you’ll have a better idea of what works for you in the classroom!
In contrast to the Learner Profile, there is a very strict word limit of 500 words in this assignment. You’ll probably find it difficult to trim down everything you want to say, but it’s a very useful skill to practice.
Also, this is the only assignment that you will discuss with the moderator on during your Trinity CertTESOL moderation, so make sure you know your material inside out!
Ta-da! All of the TESOL assignments in a nutshell!
So that was all of the assignments, but it must be stressed that a large proportion of the course is taken up by teaching practice, in which you will plan lessons, teach them, and then reflect upon your progress. There are 7 Teaching Practice lessons (the first of which doesn’t count), so plenty of time to work out your best classroom techniques!
NEW Online Blended TESOL
If this all sounds appealing to you, why not sign up for one of our upcoming courses? We offer 4, 5, 6 and 8-week full and part-time courses to suit your needs! Not able to attend a course? Don´t worry, as we now offer a NEW Online Blended TESOL.
Don’t forget to check out our TEFL testimonials from past trainees and find out why it was the best thing they’ve ever done!