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This is how our TEFL graduates feel they have gained from their course, and how they plan to put into action what they learned:
This course was a great chance for me to gain confidence in my teaching skills and also to identify areas of weakness that I must work on improving. Many times as I was reading or watching the material, I found myself nodding along and agreeing with the points mentioned. This helped to boost my confidence as a teacher as it means that I am on the right track. All teachers need feedback, not only from students, but from colleagues or more experienced teachers. That is something that has been lacking for me here in Japan for the past year, since after the earthquake last March, I have been the sole teacher at the branch I manager. All of our other teachers fled the country. Even in the relatively short period of time since then, I have come to realize how important teacher to teacher feedback is.
At times, as I was covering the material, I realized that I was making a few fundamental mistakes that I needed to change ASAP. Among these was my use of my students’s L1 in class, not having clearly defined stages of learning in each class (though many of the activities were the same), and having too much teacher talk time in relation to student talk time. One day last week, I was trying to get one group of intermediate students to talk more and at the end of the lesson, one of my students asked if I was too tired and if that was way I wasn’t talking as much as I usually do. Wake-up call. I smiled and told him no, that I actually wanted to give them the opportunity the do more of the talking and that this was in fact a good thing for everyone in the class. I have tried to adjust my classes little by little over the past month, but my students need more time to get used to the changes.
This course was also very useful in giving new ideas of activities to use in class, great hints on how to present certain grammar points, and how to do a needs analysis for business students, all of which I will be using in the classroom.
But I think the number one thing that I got from this class was not something that was covered in the texts. I am a serious teacher and like to think that I am good at what I do. This class gave me a sense of motivation that I can be better, and by that I mean that all teachers need to actively seek ways to make their teaching better. Teaching is an active profession. Just as our students need to feel motivated and challenged to learn and benefit from variety, so do teachers need to challenge and motivate themselves to do things that will ultimately make them more effective teachers in the classroom. I started this course with aim of getting a certificate as “proof” that I am a real teacher but was able to gain a lot of knowledge and understanding from the course as well.
In three months I will be leaving Japan. Hopefully (if I can get a school to grant me a work visa), I will be going to Europe to continue my teaching career. With this new start, I plan on actively using the skills and knowledge from this course. I will not be using my students’ L1 in the classroom, will be using more pair-work activities, will be planning my lessons with more care and hopefully be embarking on a new and exciting next step in my english