The TEFL certification was the final step. Tickets were booked, bags were nearly packed, and an elementary teaching position awaited Lindsey in faraway Incheon, South Korea. At that time, she could barely imagine the adventures that lay ahead.
The last six weeks of my life, well, mostly the evenings and weekends, had been building to this moment. That anxious, first day of school feeling crept into my gut.
As a 28 year old professional embarking on a new career as an ESL teacher, I was treading on unfamiliar territory. Sure, I’d taught day camps and tutored refugee children, but I had never been a real teacher. I could speak English perfectly, but could I explain the third person omniscient? To fully prepare for the road ahead, I was about to begin the first session of my TEFL certification course.
My Choice Of TEFL Course
Fully aware that not all TEFL programs are created equal, I’d done some research and established a bit of criteria: quality materials, an experienced instructor, and a comfortable learning environment. That’s exactly what I got.
The Denver-based course I selected was accredited, consistently high rated and boasted excellent participant and international student reviews. The 80-hour online coursework portion had already been extremely helpful, and my online mentor/reviewer was professional and encouraging. Now all that stood between me an official certification were 20 hours of hands on classroom learning.
As a teaching greenhorn, seeking out a program that offered both classroom and online components was well worth the effort. It gave me the opportunity to practice on my peers and receive the constructive criticism I desired.
As well as the competitive 500 Dollar fee , the self-driven course had no real enrollment requirements. Committed students could easily complete the online modules ahead of schedule and glean a wealth of helpful information, while the less motivated could easily let their six month window of eligibility lapse.
Quality Trainers Make For Quality Graduates
The real value of the program was in the quality of the classroom instruction. All great performers can study their lines, but conquering stage fright and learning to truly connect to your audience usually requires the guidance of a strong director.
Our “director” in this case was a true professional with more than 20 years of ESL and TEFL education under her belt. We were in good hands. She addressed concerns with ease and answered questions accurately and succinctly. Students were encouraged to speak and answered questions accurately and succinctly. Students were encouraged to speak freely, request clarification, share ideas and offer suggestions. As the conversation progressed through language awareness, classroom management techniques and receptive skills, I realized teaching English was something I could do, and do well.
A Real Mix Of Classmates From Every Background
Like so many prospective ESL teachers, my fellow classmates and I desired a change, an adventure, a challenge.
The smiling young married couple hoped to use their respective certifications to travel the world teaching. The recent college grads had found little luck in the US job market and were seeking non-traditional employment options. The Californian businessman spoke of his waning interest in the hustle and bustle of advertising, while I lamented my fading passion for social work. Some were young, some were old. Some had traveled far for this experience and would be bunking in nearby hotels for the evening, but most of us were local. Some had teaching experience, some had none, but by the end of day one we were all feeling confident. The mock lessons and exercises had gone well, we had taken pages of excellent notes and learned some extremely helpful tips.
From Student To Teacher
Day two proceeded in much the same way. Between fine tuning lesson plans, practicing pronunciation exercises and brainstorming time filler activities, we talked of our TEFL goals. I was surprised to learn I was the only student already committed to an overseas teaching job. For me, this certification was the final step. Tickets were booked, bags were nearly packed, and an elementary teaching position awaited me in faraway Incheon, South Korea. At that time, I could barely imagine the adventures that lay ahead.
As the course came to a close, we squeezed in one last discussion on utilizing visual aids and developing level-appropriate tests. Then, with a bit of fanfare, we received our preliminary certifications with the assurance that official credentials would come via email (which they did, right on schedule). Two weeks later, I boarded my first ever flight to Asia, where I would live for the next two years.
I uprooted my generally comfortable life for a host of reasons: money, experience, travel opportunities and for a chance to explore the teaching profession. It was the right decision. Navigating life abroad and working as an ESL teacher in South Korea has helped me grow and evolve in so many ways. Earning a TEFL certification was excellent preparation for the challenges of teaching, and helped me to think and act as an educator. I know I am a better, more effective teacher for getting over those back to school jitters and completing the course. I believe my students and fellow teachers would agree.