The horror, the pain, the torture…oh wait, were talking about my TEFL experience not my last visit to the dentist. Oops, never mind, wrong post.
Let me start by saying there was no horror, pain, or torture in this experience. It was actually the opposite! When I decided to apply to the CIEE Teach in Spain Program, there were many options to choose from, including the type of program, and whether or not I wanted to get TEFL certified. If you’re wondering why I would choose to get TEFL certified at all, check out my blog post on why I did it! Now how was my experience you ask? Well, here’s the honest truth. I never thought a 150-hour course could be so beneficial and enrichening.
At the beginning I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into. I had no previous formal training or classes in education, but I decided to get TEFL certified for that precise reason. I got accepted into my program and not a week had gone by from my acceptance when I decided to start TEFL.
The course started simple and nice, like when you’re just a kid and everything’s beautiful and simple and the world is just in black and white. To start, you’ll get to explore the course, update your profile and start of meeting your TEFL classmates and your professor with a fun icebreaker. Here I learned that everybody taking TEFL is from different states and even different parts of the world.
The workload starts around week 2 and 3. I was shocked that each module actually took the time they said it would take, which was 2-3 hours. I don’t know why, but I thought that I would be able to do the modules in 1 hour. I was very wrong. When getting TEFL certified with CIEE, be aware that THE MODULES DO TAKE THE TIME. Trust me!
Even though the modules took time to complete, they were very dynamic. It wasn’t like a regular online course. From the way they present a topic to the constant alternation between an animated presentation, test and activities. I even dare to say that some modules are quite entertaining. Some even have little funny role plays or jokes. That was very much appreciated from my part and it kept me alert and motivated.
One of my favorite parts from the modules was the group discussions. I would get to see my classmates write their opinions in what was being discussed in that module, and we would bounce of off each other’s opinions. One of my favorite discussions was answering who we thought our best teacher was and why. As I wrote my answer, I reflected on what made the teacher great in my eyes and the impact that class had on me. I then realized I wanted to have that same impact on my learners. You’d be surprise what those discussions helped you realize. Its nots just about having to discuss something, but the point is to make you think above and beyond and see different perspectives from different students. Another thing about the discussion boards was the amazing feedback we receive from our course tutor.
The course tutor is there to guide us during the course, the discussions and give us feedback in our assignments. In college I had previous experience with online classes and there was nothing special about them. It was basically just reading the material and we all know in those online classes the professor was barely present in the process. Well that wasn’t the case with my TEFL certification. My experience with the tutor was of much growth.
My tutor was very much present. I was in shock and so pleased at the same time. The tutor helped me through the whole process. If I had any questions or concerns, she was there and she would clarify. The TEFL tutor is very resourceful, knowledgeful and accessible which is a very good combination. If I had a question she was just an email away, plus every Tuesday we had a tutorial.
In these tutorials, the class would meet through video conference calls with the tutor to discuss the module, the assignments and any questions. It was a great relief knowing how present the tutor was to help, but that’s not all. A key part for me was the feedback she would give me for my assignments. The tutor would review the assignment, send me a written review and a video with constructive criticism. The grade I would get for my assignments would be fully explained in a video. This was great for me because I was able to understand if something was missing from the assignment, what it was and how I could improve for next time. This made my TEFL experience much easier and it facilitated the learning process by keeping me motivated for the final goal.
Lastly there’s the practicum. For you to be able to receive your certification there’s a 20-hour practicum you must complete. This might be scary when you first think of it, but it was a much-needed part of the process. In my practicum I got to put to test everything that was learned and reflect on where I can improve. It all seems good on paper, but when you do the practicum you really get a sense of things. Needless to say, CIEE and your TEFL coordinator is there to help! They even have a separate page that shows you step by step how to complete everything. This made the experience easy and easy to navigate since you have someone there to guide you.
Now that I have just finished my certification as I reflect about this experience I can easily say that between the interactive discussions, the dynamic modules and the class and tutor feedback the experience with TEFL certification was better than I could ever imagine. This was a learning experience that gave me the key skills to feel confident, prepared and ready for my journey when I step foot in my classroom abroad. It also put me in contact with TEFL students from around the world and I even met people that were going to be in Spain like me. This course has just set my expectations for online classes way too high, because this 150-hour TEFL certification course in such little time gave me the best learning experience.