Interview With Kate, Recent Trinity Cert TESOL Graduate In England

Kate Sutcliffe, who recently completed a Trinity Cert TESOL in Woking, England, and took the time to do an email interview about her experience for the TEFL Logue. You can read and subscribe to her ESL Base TEFL Course Diary Blog here, where she details her thoughts and experiences during the course and also plans to add her insight on teaching when she gets started.

As for the most valuable thing she’s gained from her course, Kate cites the teaching experience.

“We taught six lessons as part of the course, and I think in many ways this is the most important aspect of it; it’s what helps you to feel like you do know what you’re doing, at least to a small extent. It was also really useful doing Russian lessons [as part of the course]- feeling what it’s like from the student’s point of view must help a lot with teaching. And of course the qualification in itself is pretty valuable – that’s probably what’s going to allow me to get a job in the UK!”

Kate chose her particular course in part for a very practical reason: it’s near where her parents live and she had a free place to stay during the course.

“However, I was particularly attracted by the fact that we did some Russian (not to learn Russian, but to experience what it was like to be taught a new language, from scratch, only using the language to be learnt). I was also attracted by the free, one day seminar which anybody can go along to, to find out about the course and whether it’s for them. I thought that was a very good idea, and when I went along the place seemed friendly and it looked like it would be an enjoyable course and like I’d learn a lot, so I decided to go for it.

How has the course changed her outlook on teaching?

“I’m not sure that my outlook has changed that much – I expected that we’d be learning how to teach in a very practical way, with minimal reading and writing; that there would be lots of speaking involved. One thing is that, even more than I thought, it’s actually the teacher’s job, during lessons, not to do very much – or at least not to talk very much. Teaching is all about setting up activities smoothly and quickly, and then getting the students to have as much time as possible practising the language.”

What was the most challenging part of the whole experience?

“Probably the most challenging thing was simply having so much work to do in such a short space of time. There really wasn’t a moment to think about anything else! I found that planning lessons was taking me absolutely ages, and then there were the other projects we had to do (individual profile of a student; write-up of our experience of being taught Russian; rationales for each time we taught, to say what we thought we had done well and what we needed to improve on; a project on a teaching material that worked well and on one that didn’t work very well; a phonetics assignment…) – it was good fun (especially in retrospect), and it wasn’t that the work was especially difficult in itself, it was just that we had so much to do!”

Read on to Part 2 to find out Kate’s advice on the decision to do a course, as well as her thoughts on the advantages to doing a course at home compared to abroad and vice versa.