When I started this course, I had many preconceptions. I (rather arrogantly) believed that teaching is an easy skill to learn, that teacher
s have an easy life, that getting a tesol
qualification is an easy process, and in particular about how easy it is, as a Native english teacher
, to teach english
to others. After 20 units and some teaching experience, I now know I was quite wrong, and that in fact some of these preconceptions made some of the coursework more difficult. To anyone about to undertake the course, I would share the following which I believe would have helped me to go into this process better prepared.
1. Having been a good pupil in school doesn't automatically mean you'll make a good teacher
. Being a good pupil means – amongst other things - that you take instruction well, can pick things up easily, can use your intelligence to make and challenge assumptions, and have respect for the teacher
and the learning process. Being a good teacher
however requires a different set of skills, and ones which you don't necessarily learn in other forms of life – from structuring lessons to ensure a good learning experience for all, to excellent classroom management, to being able to explain complex theories clearly and concisely. Whilst there are similarities, they are not the same.
2. Even good communicators don't have a good handle on english
grammar. The grammar components of the course were the most challenging for me. With more than 20 years experience in marketing communications this was a huge surprise, but there's a big difference between knowing how to write and speak, and understanding the constructs around which these are based.
3. Good grasp of theory is no substitute for practice. I was lucky enough to be able to get some teaching practice about a third of the way through the course, which really helped to bring the challenges of teaching to life. Critically, it also helped me to identify my weaker areas – and that sometimes, an activity which looks good on paper doesn't work quite as you intended in the classroom. Anyone who completes the course and thinks they are now a teacher
is wrong, practical application
4. All good things take time. The prospect of 120 hours
of study is a bit daunting, and as a high performer at school myself, I automatically assumed I could shave a good deal from this. In some cases this was true, but in others I was radically wrong. You need to give your brain time to absorb the information, and the recommendation to only undertake one unit a day is spot on.
5. The unit assessments aren't just about regurgitating the materials. I was surprised at how tough some of the worksheets were, in particularly how much additional thinking was required. Reading around unfamiliar subjects using online resources was a great help to inspire ideas or to clarify learning points.
Finally, it is important to understand that whilst the course is designed to give a good framework for teaching english
, there is no ‘right' answer. Each situation that a teacher
will face is different, dictated by the students, the coursework, the classroom or the teacher
itself, and so I believe that continuous self-improvement is important in helping you to become a really great esl teacher