Although it is theoretically possible to teach the English language without any form of training or qualifications, something that was quite common in years gone by, it is now almost universally accepted that the ability to speak a language has little bearing on an individual’s ability to teach it effectively to others. This change of attitude among school directors and education departments has led to the development of TEFL certification courses that are designed to give native and non-native English speakers the skills and knowledge they require to provide effective language instruction to their future students. So what does a TEFL course actually teach you?
English grammar and how to teach it
The mere mention of English grammar is often enough to strike fear into the hearts of potential EFL teachers. Ask any native English speaker if they can separate adverbs from adjectives, or the present simple tense from the future perfect tense, and many will undoubtedly struggle. This is generally because native speakers learn to use the language organically, rather than being taught it in the traditional sense. In contrast, non-native English speakers typically have to learn all the grammar subjects themselves in order to progress, which can often give them a bit of an advantage during this part of the TEFL course study.
Whatever type of TEFL course you choose to complete, a lot of time will be spent learning about the different parts of speech, the tense system, and a whole heap of other grammar subjects. Most importantly, once you have a good grasp of these subjects you will then learn how to teach them to students whose own language is likely to operate in an entirely different way. This part of any TEFL course is highly important as an English teacher who doesn’t have a clear understanding of grammar is a teacher who is going to struggle once in front of their very first class full of students.
Lesson planning and the ESA method
Even if you have a thorough understanding of English grammar, if you do not know how to structure and present a lesson you will find it very hard going in the classroom. Lesson planning is highly important, particularly for novice teachers, as it lays out a strategy for the whole lesson with clear steps leading towards the set goals of that day's class. During your TEFL course you will learn everything you need to know about planning a lesson and how to adjust those plans when things don’t go exactly to plan.
At ITTT we utilize the ESA method of English language teaching that has been developed to produce the best results for language students in the shortest time possible. ESA stands for Engage, Study, Activate, which is the structure of the lessons you will be taught to plan and deliver. You first engage the students in the lesson with a short activity, then teach the chosen subject of the day during the study phase, and finally the class practices what they have learned during the activate stage. Being armed with the right knowledge about how to plan and structure a lesson is absolutely vital for any first-time teacher.
So you have learned how to plan a lesson and how to teach English grammar subjects, but what do you do when one of your students is disrupting the class? Classroom management covers some very important points that can make a huge difference to the life of the teacher and the success of the class as a whole. During your TEFL training you will learn a whole range of techniques to help you maintain discipline within the class without resorting to any extreme actions that might alienate you from the students.
Evaluation and testing
Another vital aspect of any English language classroom is how and when to effectively test and evaluate the progress of your students. In order to maintain a high level of motivation among your class, it is vital that your students can see the progress they are making at regular intervals. To do this there are a wide range of different tests that can be used at different times during their studies. During your training you will learn how and when to best implement these options to the best advantage of the class and the individual students.
Although the above are all major cornerstones in the development of effective EFL teachers, that is not all you will learn during your training course. Other important topics such as selecting and producing appropriate materials, the use of technology, and how to teach specific types of students are also covered during the course. By the time you reach the end of your teacher training with ITTT you will be well equipped with all the basic skills and knowledge you need to get started in your own classroom.