I did my TEFL course in 2002 in a large Eastern European city. There were twelve people on my course including me; about half were also new teachers. Of those with experience, one had taught ESL in Canada, one was a Swedish university professor who taught psychology in English, three were local teachers of English and a few had taught summer English courses abroad. Most of us were native English speakers, but three were from the local country, one from another Eastern European country (though her mother was from Scotland), and one from Sweden. Our ages ranged from twenty-three to fifty.
As a group, we didn’t have a whole lot of free time to get to know each other, but managed to meet up on three of the four weekends and on two or three occasions during the week – not bad given the intensity of the course. My roommate was the only other American – we also had birthdays within a week of each other. I’d taken a year off and so graduated from university a year later, and she’d spent the previous year working in the UK through BUNAC and traveling. We had a few spats, which I like to think were induced more by TEFL course stress than anything else, but later became better friends.
I felt a bit intimdated by the people who already had experience, and nervous because during the teaching practice, I often taught before them (I would have sometimes preferred to follow them to see what they did). But the insight they brought to the table was useful and in some ways, the course was just as challenging for them because they had already developed a teaching “style”and now had to adapt it to fit the methodology presented in this TEFL course.
I’m still in touch regularly, if not frequently, with three of my classmates. We were a diverse group of people, and while we didn’t have time to become the best of friends, I like to think we bonded over our intensive TEFL course.