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TEFL Why complete a TEFL course?
Why complete a TEFL course? There are a number of reasons why a native English-speaker might undertake a TEFL course. Firstly, it can provide the skills to allow a person to live and work in another country, where it might otherwise be difficult to find employment. By living abroad, one has the opportunity to experience a foreign culture on a level that would not otherwise be possible if simply visiting on holiday. It also allows the individual to make a positive impact on people&#146;s lives, which is much harder to achieve directly when residing in a Western country. Last, but not least, it is both a challenging and fun environment in which to work and provides a great opportunity for personal development. My first experience of teaching was on a PGCE course in the UK and it was not a positive one. It was a world away from the TEFL course that I have just completed. The British educational system is stifled by an overwhelming amount of bureaucracy and school politics, which detaches greatly from the single most important aspect of any teaching course &#150; allowing the trainee to quickly develop their teaching skills. During the three months I spent on the PGCE, I learnt about educational psychology, classroom management and professional conduct, but I actually spent less time in the classroom than I did during my one-month TEFL course. At first I was allowed to teach small parts of various lessons, which made me feel somewhat superfluous, rather than actually building my confidence. I believe I can now say with some conviction that there is no other way to gain the skills required in the classroom, except with a significant amount of teaching practice. This is where I feel that most TEFL courses succeed because they are teaching-driven, rather than being academically driven. (1) substantiates this theory. Research has proven that even amongst TEFL courses, there is a significant variation in both quality and credibility, which essentially comes down to one component &#150; how much teaching practice is involved. A number of organizations run on- line TEFL courses, which involve a limited amount of teacher-student contact time and no classroom experience. They tend to focus on the academic aspects of teaching rather than the reality of it. The danger is that the students who take these inferior courses are selling themselves short. Once they arrive in the classroom, they have little idea of how to teach or what to expect, other than some very basic techniques. In addition, without a TEFL qualification which is fully recognized by the Quality Curriculum Authority (QCA), under-qualified teachers find themselves fighting for jobs at the lower end of the quality/pay spectrum. The conclusion is a simple one. If an individual is thinking seriously about teaching, then they should take a serious teaching course. One which will provide the essential skills for them to embark on a successful teaching career in the future. Matt Smith. References: (1) http://education.guardian.co.uk/tefl/courses/story/0,,1882234,00l
Author: Matt Smith
Date of post: 2007-02-06