Olivia Seaton-Hill

So, you've graduated from university or college, you've got your degree, you're ready for the real world and most importantly you've vowed to stay as far away from education as you possibly can for the foreseeable future. Or at least I did!

Then along came EF English First.

I applied, I got the job and, blinded by the exciting opportunity to live and work in China, I did not think twice about getting back into the classroom. I mean, it's different this time: I'm the teacher. But of course, one must learn how to teach before being let loose on a group of unsuspecting ESL students. This is where TEFL comes into play.

TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language and is the name given to the course the EF teachers in training follow before they depart from their home country. It may go without saying that nothing fully prepares you for teaching your very first class but the TEFL course offers a solid foundation from which you can build your teaching career.

Here at EF English First, we do a foundation TEFL course which should take around 120 hours to complete. My meticulous notetaking definitely meant that it took me a little bit longer but I have no regrets. The course is broken down into six modules (Engage, Understand, Learn, Young Learners, Adult Learners and Teaching Online) and each module is then broken down into four more specific topics. Each module has a quiz at the end in which you must score 28/36 or higher to complete the module successfully. You can re-sit these quizzes multiple times but who doesn't enjoy getting it right the first time. After completing all six modules, you then must create and submit three lesson plans: one for a class of young learners, one for a class of adult learners and finally one for an online class. The thought of creating a lesson plan may seem daunting to some of you but don't worry, by the time you get to this point you are well prepared.

The best advice that I can offer is to take your time with the course. I know that learning something new can, at times, be a bit of a slog but all of the information you're being given is to help you! Take lots of notes, re-read anything you're not sure about, write down activities that you may want to use in your classes, set yourself deadlines and don't leave it all until the last minute. I have to say that the course, overall, is pretty interesting. I studied linguistics at university and quite often found that the TEFL course contained familiar information, a reassurance that my degree is useful in the real world.

Does the course fully prepare you for life as an ESL teacher? I mean, getting up in front of a class is still daunting but now I know that I know what I'm doing. I know that I can plan and deliver a lesson. I know that if an activity isn't well received I have a variety of alternative activities on hand to save the day. Most importantly, I know that EF English First wouldn't have me on board if they didn't think I was capable. Enjoy your TEFL course, and take it all in, this is just the beginning of your adventure.

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