Intensive TEFL Courses

The topic of intensive courses has been following me around recently. One of the points I’ve heard made is that students in intensive courses may end up learning more, or learning better, than students in regular courses, and I think this idea has some merit.

In an intensive course, students are forced to practice what they learn, well, intensively. The massive amount of forgetting which is bound to happen over a fifteen-hour course spread out over five weeks, in my experience, is unlikely to be so severe in a fifteen-hour course held over five days.

Teaching intensive courses can also be, ahem, intense. Three or four hours with the same group of people, a couple or more days a week – that’s just a lot. I once had an intensive class that met for three and a half hours a day, five days a week, and they had to make up a class. I was willing to tack on an hour to each day – but some of them suggested two! I just refused. Even with a few ten-minute breaks, I would lose my mind teaching one group of people – even great people – for five hours a day.

And while I think there is value to intensive courses, after a certain amount of time people just turn off somehow and take in so much less that it hardly seems valuable to keep going. Sure, learners don’t always have to be at 100% to learn, but most courses are scheduled with the assumption that you’ll make maximum use of the time – for the sake of financial economy – and don’t really factor in natural downtime for intensive courses.

There are plenty of advantages of intensive courses as well though. Aside from the fact that students are likely to retain more, the length of each meeting in an intensive course is usually such that you can often do lessons as you should, or as they are meant to be done . There is time to do a warmer, to check homework, and to add in extra practice if it’s needed. Students also often seem to get closer and this in turn creates a better class dynamic.

Summer is of course the season for intensive courses, so stay tuned for more on this topic.