This course gave me a new understanding of how to use various interactional patterns to maximize student involvement, motivation, participation levels, rapport and language production (irrespective of the level of the class). Having been mainly exposed to traditional teaching techniques where the teacher stood in front of the class and spoke, the ability of using different interactional patterns to make classes more student centric was a revelation to me.
We were exposed to a variety of input sessions such as Language awareness, phonology, lesson planning (formulating clear aims and creating/ adapting materials to achieve the aims), learning a foreign language, teaching young learners, various teaching methodologies (CAP, TBL, PPP etc.), needs analysis, evaluation techniques, classroom management techniques etc. All these lessons were very helpful as they helped to hone my understanding of what it meant to be an effective, student centric teacher, who encouraged students to discover the language for themselves whenever possible. It helped to debunk a lot of pre-conceived notions I had about teaching, and how a teacher should teach.
For someone who doesn’t have any academic background in English nor has taught any English class, I found the CertTESOL course to be intriguing, informative and inspirational. There was never a dull moment as there was something to be learned every day. One of the more memorable aspects of the course was the input sessions. Examples include planning a sound lesson, implementing the right type of activities, learning a foreign language, structuring effective CCQs/ICQs and modeling of functional language, etc. The course taught me how to plan an effective student-centred lesson that puts emphasis on progressing students up bloom’s taxonomy. I’ve learned the importance of material development and how they complement different interaction patterns. Good materials and effective interaction patterns create a dynamic learning environment where students can excel in the production of the target language.
It’s been quite the journey, I remembered walking into the first few classes feeling anxious and not confident. My first lesson was nerve racking as I was literally stumbling in front of the class like a deer in headlights. Things that you remember in life are the good/bad memories, family, friends and individuals that have made a difference in your life. To say the least, Steven and company were the difference makers. They taught and inspired me to teach better and become an effective teacher. The course was in essence more than just a professional development tool for me. The course and the people (trainers, peers) in it have allowed me to become a better parent as well as a better teacher. I now teach my kids differently and that in itself... is priceless.
The CertTESOL course forms a quite unforgettable learning experience. Thinking back, I’m amazed how much I’ve learned. I look forward to not only putting what I’ve learned here to practical use, but to building upon it to becoming a more effective teacher.
An important aspect of becoming a more effective teacher is being able to identify effective teaching techniques, materials, lesson structures, and so on. The Observation Journal was extremely instructive in this regard – giving specific ideas about what to look for in each observation session was greatly appreciated. Seeing what other teachers do effectively, and noticing the ways in which they can improve, is highly beneficial. I’m happy that in every lesson in which I was observed, in addition to the routinely excellent feedback provided by the trainers, my peers also gave me useful and insightful feedback (and I always endeavoured to do the same for them).
I found the input sessions to be critical to the course. Reading the companion book and other materials is of course beneficial, however, nothing beats an interactive classroom to learn. I was continually impressed how the trainers structured their lessons and taught teaching techniques by using those very techniques on us, the learners. This allowed me to, both in real-time and upon later reflection, consider how those skills could be used in the ESL classroom. These input sessions were a major factor in why I chose this particular ESL certification and this specific school.