Deciding to embark on this TEFL experience was one that I wrestled with for many a night. I would traverse back and forth between the confident excitement and proactive ambition of taking the course to the less animated timid nature of someone who did not want to leave their comfort zone. After many sleepless nights of deciding what to do I finally made the decision to take that leap and branch out from the mundane and everyday lackluster life of a suburbanite to try something new; however, now the question remained: Where do I take the course? Well, this question as not as hard for me to answer because of my personal preferences when it comes to environment. That is, I moved to the coastal town of St. Augustine, Fl, a few years back with the hopes of escaping the brutal winters and cold weather of my home town, Cleveland, Oh. Having become accustomed to the beach town lifestyle and laidback style of someone assimilated into a surfer culture I knew there were only a few locations for me. Mexico, with its rich and diverse culture, has always interested me so it took almost no time at all for me to realize Puerto Vallarta was where I wanted to go.
I arrived a few days early to get acclimated to the area and learn the ways of public transportation so I could get to and from the course. Having spent a couple days learning all of the local knowledge, I was ready for the course to begin on that Monday morning. So what do I have to say about the course? Was I overwhelmed at first? Was I shocked at the amount of grammar I thought I knew but could string together an explanation of? The answer is all of the above.
Most of the students will tell you that they were blindsided because, as native English speakers, the amount of grammar that they ended up not knowing came as a surprise. That is, just because one speaks a language that does not mean that they have knowledge of the mechanics of a language. This was a harsh reality that most students who underwent the course had to realize, however, for me this was not the case. Perhaps it was because I had just recently graduated college so everything was still fresh in my head, or maybe I just retained it from when I was younger, but for whatever reason this is not where my struggle came into play. Where the TEFL course helped me grow the most and the area where I made the most progress has to do with the nature of teaching.
What do I mean about the nature of teaching? I mean I completely underestimated the work that went into teaching each and every day. As I was growing up I was under the impression that most kids my age had; in that, teachers had the life because they worked until three in the afternoon and had such long breaks. I never realized how much behind the scenes work went into every single lesson plan and every single day. The qualities a teacher needs to have were attributes I never gave them credit for until I had my hands on teaching experience during my ICEP TEFL course. A teacher not only needs to be extremely prepared, but extremely prepared in every different scenario because they can only plan so much, but at the end of the day it is the students that are the catalysts for every class. For example, I spent about an hour the night before my first day of teaching preparing a lesson plan for a lower level student. I thought I had it all worked out and knew exactly what we were going to do the next day, but I was very wrong. The next day I realized she was know where near as receptive to the idea of learning a new language as I thought she would be, that she was only here taking the course because her sister was making here. We only got through about twenty percent of the prepared lesson plan because she was not able to grasp the material as quickly as I had imagined.
This is exactly what I mean when I say a teacher has much more work to do than was originally perceived. Adaptability is key and this was the best quality I learned during my TEFL course. That is, just as I learned, students set the pace of a course and no matter how much preparation goes into a lesson plan it is ultimately them that decides how quickly the class progresses. This is the skill that I was not prepared to learn when I first came here, but with the guidance and multiple teaching practices provided by ICEP TEFL I was able to learn this. By the end of the course, I was masterfully making lesson plans without any expectations as to how much of one we would get through and, for me, was a skill that I would not have learned otherwise.
Overall, my experience at ICEP TEFL was a great one and without the guidance of Nino DiLoreto my TEFL Trainer, I would not be the confident teacher I am able to be today. As aforementioned, it was not the grammar that got to me when I began the course, but the lack of knowledge I had towards how much work a teacher actually puts into each and every lesson. Now, with my better understanding, I can say I am very excited to see where this certificate and this newfound knowledge will take me in the coming future. Teaching is not a job, it’s a passion, it’s a labor of love, not done for the money or the vacations, but because it’s who we are and for that reason I cannot wait to begin my career as a TEFL certified English teacher.