Becoming an ESL Teacher Abroad: 1st Weekend of Classes

I’m still new to this whole blog thing. It’s going to take a bit so please bare with me and I think we’ll all get through this together. This is hopefully a way to block the walls I’ve built in my mind inhibiting me from writing these days.

Since I can remember I’ve had a passion for traveling. I never quite knew how to travel and make money. I did the whole college thing and slightly screwed it up by getting a creative writing major. Yes… it’s an Mrs. Degree, but I don’t fall into the same category as the other women.

In order to make the most of my degree and pursue something I’ve contemplated over the years, I decided to jump into teaching abroad. Not wanting to head over there without a certification, I went online and did some research. Oxford Seminars seemed to be the right choice. At the time it enabled me to work and attend classes on the weekends.

Oxford Seminars

Oxford Seminars offers a TEFL/TESL/TESOL certification program which combines in-class and online courses. Students are required to attend three weekends during a month of 9 – 6 pm classes. The classes cover a range of teaching material and help you learn different lesson methods to use overseas. After completion of the in-class portion, students are then required to complete the online portion which starts the day they “graduate.”

With the completion of both sections, students are able to begin applying for jobs over seas. The customer service helps you find available schools with good standing. This is a major plus. There have been horror stories where people go over and don’t get paid for months.

Day 1 

With only three hours of sleep and several cups of coffee, I headed all the way down to St. Edward’s University for class. I was ready to go. It was something to get me out of the house and one step closer to my goal.

All of the people seemed friendly. We broke the ice with a game of inside/outside circle. Each of us had one minute to talk about the three images that represented us and introduce ourselves. It was a bit harder since we’re such a large class but it worked well.

When we got inside our instructor went over the technique and let us discuss what we thought about it. She continued to teach us how to teach by going through the various methods we would be implementing with our students.

When I went to school most of our classes were lectures and we did homework. They were very verbal and sometimes visual. There were times we did group work, but we didn’t place emphasis on that. The teacher provided a positive and open atmosphere. We were able to relax enough to say what we truly thought about the lesson. It’s something I’m not used to. I’m used to the people laughing at others making a mistake or the teacher telling the student, “no, that’s a dumb idea.” There was none of that.

Using groups seemed to be successful. She didn’t get on to us about talking to our peers when we asked them for help or ideas. She supported it. It’s a great way to keep up with the class.

We had some homework at the end of the day, but it wasn’t much. We read and completed a couple work sheets about learning styles. The worksheets helped insight you as to your learning style and modes. For the most part they seemed to be on point. Knowing this helps us know how we learn and how others will learn.

Day 2

The next day, we delved into the learning styles and modes. We learned how to integrate them into a lesson and what activities matched the style. The teacher continued to expand our knowledge of activities. We discussed T-Charts, personal white boards, and webbed graphs.

The methods and activities we’re using to learn have been successful for the most part. Things such as sentence stems are something I could see using. Sentence stems are where you provide the beginning portion of a sentence and have them fill in one word or the rest of it. For example, “Hi, I’m Samantha and I like to____.” This helps people with repetition, flow, a jump off point, and eases the pressure since they don’t have to think of the entire sentence. Had my French teacher used this, I might have learned the language a lot more.

Another key point I learned is not to translate. Think in the other language. Don’t try to think of the word in your language and translate it. This will only inhibit you from learning the language. Then, when it comes to the grammar you’ll really be screwed.

While the second day was good for the most part, it was harder to keep engaged. I haven’t slept well the past few days with only a few hours of sleep each night. With that being said, people got on my nerves quite easily. They weren’t intentional… at least I don’t think. But I will say this… I will not have fidget spinners in my class room. It might help some but it will annoy and distract the others from learning.

End of 1st Weekend

So far, this seems to be a good program choice. The faculty is optimistic and helpful. They’re ready to help teach you and get you to where you want to go. There may be some obstacles, but they will help you the best they can.

For the first time in awhile, I’m finally feeling optimistic about the job opportunities in this field. Yes, it may not always be Europe exactly, but it gets me out there to experience new cultures. It’s a way to help others learn English. I get to delve into different aspects of writing, books, and incite their minds to learn more. There’s so many things available for them.

There will be a culture shock depending on where I go. Believe me, it was a culture shock heading to Mexico. But it will be worth it. Who knows what I might learn or see? Experiencing the culture first hand is not something everyone gets to do these days. Hopefully, I’ll be able to inspire others to travel and learn about other cultures. Too many people get focused on their culture and forget how beautiful others cultures are. If you don’t fit in one, you might find you fit perfectly in another.

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