Things I wish I had known before starting the course When I decided to get TEFL Certified,
When I decided to get TEFL Certified, through ITTT, I did not think, that as a person who holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, completing the course work would be very challenging. After all, I studied wrote about and debated complex aspects of the language and literature all through out college. How could it not be easy' I really believed that I would breeze through the course work and it would take the minimal amount of time to be completed.
I had finished the first three units quite quickly, in my arrogance I really did believe they all would be finished just as fast.
Then I began Unit 4 (Present Tenses) and had a very rude awakening. It was with this unit, I realized that all my college training had not prepared me in any way shape or form for what lie ahead in future grammar centered units. I was completely blindsided by a complete lack of understanding of my native language. I was learning things that I should have learned when I was in elementary school, but never did. Or if I did I had no recollection of being taught how tenses were formed. The course work for the certification taught me for the first time (at the age of 31!!) that there were twelve tenses. TWELVE! I never knew there were twelve tenses; I always thought there were only three: present, past and future.
So, one thing I wish I knew before starting this course was how complicated the English language is. Granted, I always knew that the language was difficult for people to learn, but I didn't really comprehend how hard it was for people until taking this course. The many challenges to learning English lie in the subtle nature of the exceptions.
For example last week while I was getting lunch at the deli around the corner from my work, the cashier, a young woman from Indonesia, gave me two phrases 'ice coffee' and 'iced coffee' and asked which one was correct, to ensure the sign she made was grammatically correct. And it took me a couple minutes of really thinking about it to ensure I gave her the right answer. Her question should have been simple as pie for me, but I realized how I viewed language has changed since beginning the course.
I was now looking at it from the view point of a non-native speaker, and in that moment it really hit home on how hard English is and I really wish I knew that before starting the course: that taking the TEFL certification course would not be easy, it should be hard. Native English speakers should be forced to examine and really understand the language that we are teaching. We need to be knowledgeable of all the quirks and annoyances so we can see the challenges our students face and be equipped to give them the proper guidance they need and deserve.