Soteria is a teacher at Saint George International English school in London.
She is a non-native-speaker of English, having originally come from Greece.
She studied the TESOL certificate full-time one-month course (at SGI in central London just by Oxford Circus station) and was selected from that group of successful trainees to become a permanent member of staff in the school due to her excellent teaching skills and friendly personality.
Here, Soteria answers a few questions (by email) on various elements of the TESOL course and how the the teacher training helped her in the beginning of her TEFL teaching career…
So, Soteria, when did you pass your initial TEFL teacher training course and which qualification did you get?
I passed my initial TEFL teacher training course in February 2014, getting the Trinity College London TESOL certificate.
And how did you get started in the real world of teaching English after you finished the Trinity certificate?
Well, to begin with, SGI has a good reputation for employing former trainees. After having completed the course with them, I decided to go back and drop off my CV in case there were any teaching vacancies. I was lucky enough to have completed the course just before the busy summer period which is why and how i got offered hours almost immediately.
Was it terrifying when you stepped into your first real class of students, or did the practical elements of the TEFL course prepare you well?
To be honest, stepping into my first real class of students-real in the sense of being my own class, without a teacher trainer observing me- was overwhelming but exciting at the same time. And yes, both the practical and theoretical elements of the TEFL course had prepared me extremely well for that. Nevertheless, as a novel teacher I was quite terrified indeed.
And how long did it take for you to feel a bit more comfortable with your preparation for lessons and actually doing it for real in the classroom? DId you learn fast ‘on the job’?
I think that when it comes to teaching you are forced to learn fast “on the job”. An ongoing and endless process of learning takes place constantly, and when you’ve thought you’ve learnt something, that’s when you realise there’s a lot more to it than what you already know. Hence you learn as you teach. So yeah, to get back to the actual question, at the beginning and for a good couple of months (or more), i used to plan thoroughly for each lesson-sometimes for hours-only to find out that especially in “real classroom” settings there are a lot going on, such as dealing with emergent language or focusing on some aspects more than others and so on. Plus it was extremely time consuming considering that you don’t have 15-30 min teaching time anymore, but sometimes 3 or 4 lessons per day. So eventually, I put the Cert lesson plan aside and gradually began making less and less detailed lesson plans until I got to the point where I didn’t need to type one up. It’s a lot more natural now I’d say. The use of course books and supplementary material made my life much easier as well, as I didn’t have to come up with or design activities for each lesson (as it’s required whilst on the Cert). So to sum up, lesson planning time does get better over time indeed!
And now, how is your teaching style? Is it a bit like learning to drive in the sense that once you have passed the driving test, you can forget everything you learnt, pick up bad habits and start driving in a less safe way? Or do you still retain and use (as much as possible) the teaching tactics that you learnt on the course ( e.g. low teacher talk time, board management, classroom management, concept check questions, instructional check questions etc)?
Well, I try my best to retain most of the teaching techniques I learnt on the course.
However, over the course of teaching these have improved becoming less forced, more natural and hopefully more effective.
Do you think that in the future you will go on to take the higher qualification of the TESOL Diploma?
Definitely! Most of the other teachers at SGI have taken the Diploma here and they all said that the course and whole process made them a better teacher. Plus, you get paid more money! 🙂
Thanks Soteria, for answering the questions!
For a spoken review of the TEFL Certificate course at SGI, click HERE to listen to a podcast: “How good was the TEFL course?”