So you have decided to take your TESOL course. You’re excited – this is the first step in your new career after all, but you’re also a little nervous – people say it is really intense and the workload is huge. But, never fear!
After training teachers for various teaching awards over the years, I have come up with a few tips to help you succeed. Now let’s face it, there is nothing ground breaking to follow below, but when you are in the midst of the stress that is your course, just try to remember these few tips and you should make it through relatively unscathed.
1. Put your social life on hold
A lot of trainees don’t realise (or accept) how much work goes into one of these courses. Having a weekend off will set you back drastically as there are always assignments to write and lessons to plan. Tell your friends and family that you are booked solid for a month and batten down the hatches!
2. Manage your time
Leading on from tip one is managing your time. You will need to devote time every evening to your course work, and often to different things, therefore it is crucial to budget your time appropriately. Set aside two hours each evening for your lesson plans – there are a lot of things to think about and complete for each lesson and you need to go to your assisted lesson planning prepared. If you don’t have a lesson the next day, use the two hours to work on your assignments.
3. Abandon all domestic chores
If you are lucky enough to live with someone you can palm the house work off to – do it! Use bribery if necessary but not having to worry about cleaning the bathroom, vacuuming and cooking dinner will free up more time to focus on your course. If this isn’t possible, set aside an hour a week get the main stuff done, then suck it up and live with the rest.
4. Eat properly
While students are notoriously malnourished, remember that to function properly you need to give yourself the right fuel. You will have more energy and hopefully avoid getting sick.
While a few late nights are inevitable while studying anything, you need to be sure you get enough rest. You are hardly going to be producing your best if you’ve been up ‘til 4am planning lessons and your alarm is set to go off at 6 to start the next action packed day. Stress is a big factor in these courses and a lack of sleep will not help you cope with this.
6. Reduce stress
Being tired + a heavy work load + being out of your comfort zone does not for a happy trainee make. So it is important that you try to minimise the amount of stress or at least, figure out how to cope with it. Your fellow trainees are often the best source of support – you are all in this together remember.
7. Be open to new ideas
This is normally more of an issue for people with some experience. The kind of teaching expected in this industry is not what you will find in a high school or primary school. Remember your tutors are there to help, to give you new ideas and alternative ways of approaching things. Don’t discount them without trying them, not all of them will work for you, but you won’t know which until you try.
8. Enjoy it
The best thing about teaching English is how much fun it is, and the same goes for your course. Sure it is hard work, but it is rewarding and you will make some good friends in a short space of time. Almost every group of trainees I’ve ever had asks me if other groups get on as well as they do and the answer is ‘yes, almost all of them’.
So try to remember these tips as you embark on your TESOL course. Try to get as much out of the course as you can because, while the course may be challenging, passing it will open up a new world of opportunities and experiences.