Back To School

Its been six years since I graduated from UCLA — and I’m pretty sure that was the last time I took a test.  So yes, the old noodle has collected some dust since then, but today I brushed it off and put it back to work. Today, I went back to school!

Well, to be fair I’m not back in regular school. While the thought has crossed my mind, I haven’t gone back to get my PHD (but the thought of being called Dr. Jones is very appealing).  Instead, I’ve decided to get my TEFL Certification!

What is a TEFL? Well, i’m glad you asked, dear reader! TEFL is an awkward acronym that stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and it is the internationally recognized certification used by English teachers all over the world. There are other options out there like TESOL and CELTA and if you’re interested in the details, I explain that all in my Teaching English Overseas Guide.

I’ve been working with i-to-i (now, a company that offers TEFL courses and job placements all over the world.  They are interested in spreading the word about their great programs and I am interested in getting certified to teach English abroad while helping them to spread that word, so they offered me the opportunity to take a course for free in exchange for having me write about it as I go along.  Sweet deal, right?

So, I’ll be blogging about getting TEFL certified with i-to-i here so that you can get a good idea of what it is like to go through the process.  What is it like to take TEFL courses online?  What about the real-life classroom TEFL portion of the course?  How easy / difficult is the material?  How long does it actually take to get certified?  These are all questions that hopefully will get answered in this blog over the next couple months, and in the article that I will write for Student Traveler Magazine once I finish my course.

There are lots of different TEFL courses you can take, ranging from quick 40 hour online courses to comprehensive courses that combine online and in-class options and really get you prepared for going out and teaching on your own.  I opted for the full monte –  so I have a lot of course to complete, including:

  • The 60 hour Online TEFL Course
  • The 20 hour Grammar Awareness Course
  • Add-on modules for teaching with video lessons, teaching business English, one-to-one teaching, teaching young learners, teaching Large Classes, and teaching with limited resources.
  • An additional module of video practice course.
  • And a weekend TEFL course in a classroom in San Francisco.

It going to be a lot to take in, but I’m ready for the challenge and I’m looking forward to learning a little bit more about how teaching English as a foreign language works, and showing you all what its like from beginning to end.

So today I finally cracked open the first module and went through the first lesson.  For the most part it was a simple introduction to TEFL and to the way the online courses work.  I clicked through their easy-to-use interface and learned a little bit about the different types of language learners and the different types of language teachers.  I was happy to see that besides the click through, step-by-step guided lessons, there is also a more text-book style lesson in PDF form.  Some people prefer to study the old-fashioned way, so it’s nice to see that i-to-i gives you both options.

I decided to keep clicking though my lesson all the way to the end and it only took me about 45 minutes to complete.  Then I took a quick and easy 15 question test which is automatically scored (i passed!).  Next I had a written assignment to complete with 4 questions requiring short answers.

The written assignments are always read and scored by a real live TEFL tutor, which makes sure that you actually understand the course material.  In my opinion, this is a great addition and it makes i-to-i’s certification more reputable.  Without the written section, it would be easy to open the PDF lessons in a new tab and just Ctrl-F through the multiple choice test, acing it every time without ever actually reading the material.  The sneaky slacker in me finds this method incredibly appealing, but it certainly won’t make me a better teacher. With the written questions and real life readers, you have to actually know what you’re talking about — which is really good for everyone, especially future employers.

I got my first written test back within just a couple hours and it was full of positive feedback and useful remarks from Melinda who works as an online TEFL tutor.

All in all an easy and postive experience so far!

Anyway, thats all for now – I’ve got a busy week ahead of me, but i’m going to try to fit in another module or two tomorrow.  Check back soon for updates on the process as well more information about TEFL in general.

And if you’re new here, the best way to stay up to date is to LIKE me on my brand new Facebook page.  That way my blog updates will show up in your news feed.  You can click here or click the like box at the top of the page.  The like button below just shows your friends you like this post, which is also awesome and you should do that too, you lovely little likeaholic, you! ;)


If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!