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Advice needed please....total noob...
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scruffysa



Joined: 05 Mar 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 3:07 pm    Post subject: Advice needed please....total noob... Reply with quote

Hello there,

I'm looking at moving abroad, to Colombia, and will be getting married there too, hence I don't need to apply for a work visa....

The plan is to teach private courses, of English, to the local Colombians there. However, I am an engineer by trade and don't have a degree or, indeed, A levels...

Personally, I wish to know about teaching English before I go, and have thought that taking an online TEFL course would give me a decent grounding in the basics of teaching, am I right?

To be honest, I know that I don't need to have any sort of qualification to give these private courses, just being a native speaker is enough, I won't be living in the big cities, however I feel I need to know a little about how to plan lessons and the general 'rules' of teaching...

So, what I really need to know, is what TEFL course has a good reputation beyond the professional ones such as Trinity or Cambridge? My understanding of those are that I need to have 'A' levels or a degree to do them.

I was going to do a TEFL Institute course, until I read on here that it's a bit dodgy, and now I am considering a Cactus Online course.....the Weekend & Online TEFL Course + Grammar Module + Specialist Modules (120 hours) one....

So does anyone have any advice? I would appreciate as much input as possible...

Thanks in advance...


Mark
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMHO you (and yes, I mean you, Mark! Engineer by trade, articulate, apparently keen etc Very Happy ) can learn most of what you need to know from books; courses just add a few common-sense tips that ought to occur to anyone who does enough reading and contemplating for themselves, and a lot of methodology is (or should be) more a matter of personal taste than carved in stone (that, or it at least ought to be more faithful to natural discourse patterns; often the only thing it resembles however is the same-old same-old polite classroomese).

Anyway, I've posted quite often with reading (studying, reference etc) suggestions - try searching for 'CELTA', 'grammar AND boo*', and 'lexicogrammar' (search terms arranged in decreasing number of results) with me as author and look at the threads with more obviously relevant titles.

Some might say though that you owe it to your students to get an education and training in ELT, but to be honest what most of these courses offer is pretty lightweight in terms of serious knowledge imparted, so it is mainly a case of you owing the training center however many hundreds or thousands of quid for comparatively little in return (compared to the number of books you could've bought for that sum, certainly. Give me a pile of COBUILDs, CGELs etc anyday, and then leave me in peace to actually read 'em. You can get a lot read in a month full-time! Wink).


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Mar 07, 2010 5:27 pm; edited 2 times in total
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AdrianG4



Joined: 17 Apr 2009
Posts: 160
Location: Harbin, China

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't need a degree to do any of those courses you mentioned, however you do need more money ..

Honestly, I'd go with ITTO .. they're cheaper and are well regarded in Latin America (I ran into three ITTO graduates in Mexico ..)

I went with INTESOL in Guanajuato, Mexico .. but it's pricey too ..
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scruffysa



Joined: 05 Mar 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I guess I ought to add that I am based in the UK, so any advice concerning UK courses would also be appreciated....

I have a few books concerning English Language...

Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (Elementary Students)

English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (Intermediate Students)

Teaching English as a Foreign Language by David Riddell (teach yourself)

also I have the Berlitz English Pronounciation Programme (CD + guide book)

Are there any books that you would recommend for further reading?

Given that I am based in the UK, is there anyone who has studied TEFL here and can give advice about the deluge of courses available?

Thanks for the other advice too, much appreciated, and please contribute further if you wish...

Mark
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Mark, the Murphy books certainly aren't bad for getting a swift overview (I've used the Essential one myself to help me plan elementary learner syllabuses, and set homework exercises from; for going on intermediate level I think I'd prefer to at least have access to a few other books also though - perhaps take a look at Swan & Walter's How English Works, and Thornbury's Natural Grammar...the latter of which reminds me, don't forget to consider getting a good learner dictionary; there may even be bilingualized (E-E-Spanish) ones available in Colombia. A thread with info about E-E ALDs, and links to their free online versions: http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=65876 ). You could probably do with getting a more detailed reference though e.g. Swan's PEU, or Leech's A-Z, or the COBUILD Grammar (for all of which, see threads below, and search etc - I've posted a few quotes from such books over the years).

Re. teaching generally, Lewis & Hill's Practical Techniques in Language Teaching (which I've mentioned somewhere on the forums before) is a lot more interesting and thought-provoking than most initial guides (Lewis is quite the grammarian, having written the famous The English Verb, and hasn't neglected lexis either, being the founder of an approach to LT via his influential The Lexical Approach), but may seem a bit expensive/on the slim side. But as we all know, it's quality not quantity that counts, and the print/word density per page is certainly higher than average. One thing I really like about this book is that it isn't full of silly limiting and/or confusing lesson templates like PPP (UCLES's standard for a long time, and still around nowadays, though in different guises/names), ESA (Harmer) or even ARC (Scrivener). Anyway, you can read a review of it at TESL-EJ (Google 'lewis hill practical techniques'), though that site's a bit slow at the moment so you might need to click on the Cached version of the page. Anyway, here's something about Lewis's influence on my thinking (along with plenty of other books mentioned along the way):
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=41198#41198

Swan & Smith's Learner English (about "language interference" problems that specific nationalities might have e.g. Spanish learners of English, with the pronunciation, grammar etc of English) would also be worth looking at.

You might find this interesting also:
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=73008

And this (about the Distance DELTA reading list, but still, there is a fair amount of overlap with CELTA):
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?p=797634#797634

One resource book you (and your potential students) might enjoy is Hollett et alís In at the Deep End (enjoyable, often imaginative and amusing speaking activities for adult professionals, in a rough multi-strand syllabus arrangement - grammar, functions etc).

One last thing, if you really want to do the CELTA (and have the money!), I reckon some training centres would be willing to take your money in today's economic climate - I mean, they have tests and tasks that will soon gauge your general "linguistic awareness", and I am sure that there are some graduates who would display far worse education and linguistic awareness than you! So it might still be worth contacting your local centre and seeing what they say.
http://cambridgeesol-centres.org/centres/teaching/index.do
http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/viewtopic.php?t=75819
http://forums.eslcafe.com/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=2719


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Tue Apr 13, 2010 7:49 am; edited 4 times in total
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AdrianG4



Joined: 17 Apr 2009
Posts: 160
Location: Harbin, China

PostPosted: Sun Mar 07, 2010 9:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

scruffysa wrote:
I guess I ought to add that I am based in the UK, so any advice concerning UK courses would also be appreciated....

I have a few books concerning English Language...

Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (Elementary Students)

English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (Intermediate Students)

Teaching English as a Foreign Language by David Riddell (teach yourself)

also I have the Berlitz English Pronounciation Programme (CD + guide book)

Are there any books that you would recommend for further reading?

Given that I am based in the UK, is there anyone who has studied TEFL here and can give advice about the deluge of courses available?

Thanks for the other advice too, much appreciated, and please contribute further if you wish...

Mark


INTESOL International has two courses in the U.K.

In London, actually ..

http://www.intesolinternational.com/index.shtml
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scruffysa



Joined: 05 Mar 2010
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AdrianG4 wrote:
scruffysa wrote:
I guess I ought to add that I am based in the UK, so any advice concerning UK courses would also be appreciated....

I have a few books concerning English Language...

Essential Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (Elementary Students)

English Grammar in Use by Raymond Murphy (Intermediate Students)

Teaching English as a Foreign Language by David Riddell (teach yourself)

also I have the Berlitz English Pronounciation Programme (CD + guide book)

Are there any books that you would recommend for further reading?

Given that I am based in the UK, is there anyone who has studied TEFL here and can give advice about the deluge of courses available?

Thanks for the other advice too, much appreciated, and please contribute further if you wish...

Mark


INTESOL International has two courses in the U.K.

In London, actually ..

http://www.intesolinternational.com/index.shtml


Is INTESOL one of the better courses around to do then? Other than sounding like something you might apply to hemorrhoids... Very Happy

I only ask this, as I find it hard to discern one course from another...and as I say, I'm not going to be teaching in a school environment, merely as a private tutor, mainly with beginners and, maybe, with English speakers looking to improve their English to an acceptable conversation level....

Of course, I would adapt what I teach as the need arises....

Mark
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 2:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Personally, I wish to know about teaching English before I go, and have thought that taking an online TEFL course would give me a decent grounding in the basics of teaching, am I right?


I agree with previous contributors that using decent books are as good or better than online courses: my own suggestions are
Jeremy Harmer's How to teach English (not the other Harmer book which is very poor), for general advice about how to teach;
Martin Parrott's Grammar for English Teachers;
and, once you're a bit more advanced, Michael Lewis' The English Verb which has great advice for the effective teaching of grammar.

Quote:
To be honest, I know that I don't need to have any sort of qualification to give these private courses, just being a native speaker is enough, I won't be living in the big cities, however I feel I need to know a little about how to plan lessons and the general 'rules' of teaching...


If you are confining your teaching to one-to-one and you are not calling yourself a trained teacher, then maybe. If you are teaching classes, then you will be almost certainly be found out and neither you nor your students will be impressed with your performance. Courses with a practical element - i.e. observing real teachers and having your own lessons observed - allow you to get a real feel for professional standards, feedback on what you do and genuine teaching experience.

Whether you are doing one-to-one or teaching in class, 'being a native speaker' is not enough. As for this business of not living in the big cities: I'm appalled if you intend to take advantage of people you think will be ignorant. You may also be mistaken in your assumptions.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

coledavis wrote:
Quote:
Personally, I wish to know about teaching English before I go, and have thought that taking an online TEFL course would give me a decent grounding in the basics of teaching, am I right?

I agree with previous contributors that using decent books are as good or better than online courses

Actually, I myself was talking about even on-site courses like the CELTA, but I'd concede that these will probably be more helpful than online-only courses (the reading and factual input being equal). I still don't think you can beat a good (bigger!) pile of books though (at first at least: 'If you learn nothing and gain no confidence at all from "just" reading, then by all means take a course!'). Very Happy


Quote:
my own suggestions are Jeremy Harmer's How to teach English ..... Courses with a practical element - i.e. observing real teachers and having your own lessons observed - allow you to get a real feel for professional standards, feedback on what you do and genuine teaching experience.

There are some clips (Mark) on YouTube (do a search e.g. for 'Harmer English') that would appear to be from HTTE (or maybe it's his other one); such clips could give some "insight" into "approved" methods and "professional standards". (Not saying with the scare quotes that there is anything so very obviously wrong with what's being shown, other than it all being so "perfect" and "ideal", but rather, just that there may be other ways to [more method(olog)ically] poach an egg, especially if it's [thoughtfully, well-selected features of] natural conversation that one is claiming/trying to "teach").


Quote:
Whether you are doing one-to-one or teaching in class, 'being a native speaker' is not enough. As for this business of not living in the big cities: I'm appalled if you intend to take advantage of people you think will be ignorant. You may also be mistaken in your assumptions.

I'd be more inclined to give the OP a break. Smile Cool


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:10 pm; edited 2 times in total
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 5:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nope, this 'native speaker, no skills needed' attitude leads to low opinions and low pay. In my current city, the basic pay is overtly based on contact with people with this attitude. It means we have to make extra efforts to show we're not just talking heads.
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spiral78



Joined: 05 Apr 2004
Posts: 11505
Location: On a Short Leash

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, I have to agree that the 'native speaker, no quals needed' idea is totally outdated - but not everyone realises this!

Some stray American wandered into our LC here in the Netherlands last week, hoping we'd hire her and get her a visa to work, despite the fact that she had zero quals or experience (not to mention the fact that her appearance was so sloppy that we could never have sent her into any of our classrooms - but that's not the point).

It's a pervasive myth, that native speakers are in great demand everywhere/anywhere.
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Even newbies with qualifications in my city are now getting (condescending) extra scrutiny now because of my glorious predecessor, an American with a degree (I think) but no TEFL experience or qualifications who devoted his English conversation classes to things like (the most ephemeral) slang and of whom the feedback was 'well, it was better than staying at home - just'.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 3292
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, I think you can forgive people for wondering what the big deal is with ELT qualifications, when just one-month certs are the basic entry-level one. That's not to say however that more advanced qualifications (Dips, MAs etc) in this particular field always have very clear benefits either, IMHO. ('I know what I like/believe, and what I don't by now, so you'll excuse me if I don't want to study a good half at least of what's usually on offer anywhere and everywhere!'). But the lower-level trainees get fed the less succulent tripe, for sure. Still, assumed baby-level digestions have got to start with less, haven't they! Razz (Me, I just wish certs would get a lot more ambitious and really cram more in - then people might not feel the need to do further qualifications, and could find their way themselves further that bit better).

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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coledavis



Joined: 21 Jun 2003
Posts: 1838

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

fluffyhamster wrote:
Well, I think you can forgive people for wondering what the big deal is with ELT qualifications, when just one-month certs are the basic entry-level one.

Well, an intensive four week course is exponentially better than just thinking you know grammar and getting on well with people. With the course, you have certain standards to try to live up to, some insights into your current abilities and some basic language teaching techniques. Most people get quite a lot out of CELTA.

We've got an unqualified teacher doing cover at the moment. He's getting on all right for two reasons: He admits he's not a qualified teacher so the students don't hassle him over grammar (he's only doing advanced classes), and he gets grammatical and general lesson preparation back-up from other teachers (myself with my puny CELTA, another Brit who was a trainer in a previous life and a local with a real teaching qualification). Just how he'd do without all the support, I don't know; I rather think that this level of back-up is quite rare.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
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Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Mar 08, 2010 9:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The question still to me is, can't somebody learn a fair bit about "how to teach" from reading? I mean, a lot of what we base (or should base!) our pedagogic decisions on is ultimately quite academicy-linguistico knowledge, and you can definitely find that sort of stuff yourself in a good reference grammar.

But shhh, don't tell that to the CELTA grad who's studied enough, "tired" of grammar, now all clued up and raring to go, and thus wouldn't dream of buying any further books once in the job, even if the school is lacking basic resources. (So you ultimately can "quite often" have an ostensibly trained teacher who falls back on intuition and "what they know" or have "been told" - not that different really from somebody who hasn't got the certificate, but who may nevertheless have still invested in some halfway-decent books to try to make up for that huge no-no Very Happy ).

I mean, I've known many so-called teachers who just don't seem to buy books - certainly not ELT-related ones! But maybe their pay is just too low, or the school's set textbook and glossy supplementary packs really are the last word? Surprised


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:41 pm; edited 3 times in total
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