Why Complete a TEFL Course In the spring of 2006, I was approached


In the spring of 2006, I was approached by one of my former students with the idea of joining her and her volunteer group to teach English in China. I was intrigued by the idea, but wondered how one who knew no Chinese could teach English. I had teaching experience from some twenty years prior, and had even majored in English with a BS degree in Education. Being assured that I was more than qualified, I volunteered to go with the group to Xian in July of 2006, and was appointed as one of the twelve, lead teachers for a private, summer camp school.

Though the experience was rewarding, as I look back I wonder if these students really received what they had anticipated. They, or their parents, paid a good sum to attend the ten day long session. But I was less than prepared to handle many of the problems that I faced while there. As a result, much teaching time was wasted, and certainly less teaching than expected was actually accomplished.

It is my intention to return to China on a more permanent basis, and teach English in either a high school or university setting. Obtaining a TEFL Certification is essential if I wish to fulfill this goal. But having now completed this course, I could wish that I could turn back the clock, return to Xian, and conduct those 10 days of lessons a second time.

As an experienced teacher here in the States, I had little to no concept of what I might run into within a Chinese classroom. The TEFL course is very broad in its coverage and many items covered within the units would have been very helpful to know beforehand, and lessons would have been far more effective. For instance, if only I would have known that most Asian languages use just one tense, in comparison to our, for all practical purposes, twelve, different tenses, my struggles would have been far less with many of my lessons. The units within a TEFL course on verb tenses are worth their weight in gold in helping us examine our own language, as well as conveying that language to the learning foreign student.

Though I had teaching experience, the unit on EFL Methodology was extremely helpful. This unit is a must for proper lesson planning formats and producing creative ways to convey those plans. The unit on phonics was particularly challenging, but also assists the teacher in creative ways to communicate what needs to be learned. In many ways it puts the teacher in a similar role as the student and develops empathy for him/her. Without a TEFL course, many would not be able to actually hear themselves, and how their language is actually spoken, without the unit bringing this to their attention. We as teachers demand good listening skills, but our spoken words, which often run together, are difficult to discern, especially for the beginner. The TEFL instruction pointed out this glaring problem.

Teachers with ample experience may not think they need some of the units covered in a TEFL course, but basics such as lesson planning, classroom management, testing techniques, equipment issues, and materials all have a different twist in a foreign environment. Each of these needs to be addressed for their unique features. And those prospective teachers with no experience must cover all the above with even greater detail.

A TEFL certification course is a must to be an effective teacher in a foreign land. The particular course which I completed was very helpful in pointing out areas in which I struggled while teaching in China. I look forward to implementing many of the ideas and practical steps exposed to me within this TEFL course.