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Distance course plus on-site practicum

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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2007 1:13 am    Post subject: Distance course plus on-site practicum Reply with quote

I am currently looking into obtaining TEFL certification and training in preparation for a planned trip to Japan next fall. My present financial situation will unfortunately not allow me to take a full month off from paid work if I want to save enough money for the trip, and my schedule would make evening classes difficult, if not impossible to get to on time. It therefore seems that a distance course will be my only option.

I am seriously considering the distance education TEFL certificate program at Archer College, which has the advantage of being local (for me) and offers a stand-alone practicum that I definitely intend to take.

Because this practicum can be taken in conjunction with any TEFL certification program, I am also researching other possibilities for the theory part of the course. I've heard good things about Jeff Mohamed's English International; his CELTA background and the personal attention he is said to give each of his students, along with the somewhat lower pricetag make this option look very appealing. I'm somewhat concerned, though, about the mention of "video taped" lessons included with the course materials, since I no longer have access to a VCR. I suppose I'll have to ask if this is meant literally or if these videos are available on DVD.

Keeping in mind that I will be doing a practicum (the lack of which is, in my understanding the biggest drawback to distance or online certification) are there any other programs that provide a good foundation in linguistics and teaching methodology that you would recommend I look into?
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
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PostPosted: Wed May 09, 2007 6:38 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It occurs to me that I should also have asked for opinions on the two programs mentioned above. Does anyone here have a recommendation for one over the other?
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Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 4:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You don't actually need a TEFL qualification to find a job in Japan (although I imagine having one never hurt), and seeing as a lot of the coursework basically consists of regurgitating the required reading almost verbatim, you could learn as much from just buying a couple of the "recommended" sort of books (and yet more from buying whatever takes your fancy). But if you see yourself continuing in TEFL for more than a year or two, then getting "qualified" might make more sense, and as you yourself have gathered, the (lack of a) practicum is a prime consideration; that being said, if the institution/trainers offering the practicum are not "recognized" (i.e. approved to run e.g. the CELTA), then whatever course you do, even WITH a practicum, may not ultimately be worth much more than any courses without.
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PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 5:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Archer College's tefl certificate is accredited by TESL Canada, but that might just be their standard course, not the distance one.

I think Archer has a good reputation, used to be called Winfield College so they have been around for a long time, which is a good sign.

No VCR?? I think you could pick it up for about $15 at Walmart. What I'd kill to have a Walmart or Safeway nearby.
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Joined: 16 Oct 2006
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Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada

PostPosted: Mon May 14, 2007 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you both for the replies.

fluffyhamster: I've also read that TEFL certification is not required by many Japanese employers, but I think I would benefit from some sort of preparation. I'm also hoping to do some TESL work here in Vancouver before going to Japan, and local schools tend to be stricter about proper qualifications.

The practicum at Archer College is TESL Canada approved, so I presume it is of decent quality.

Re the "recommended" sort of books you mentioned...can you suggest any specific titles that might be helpful?

Gordon: Thanks for your input re Archer/Winfield College. I've e-mailed them to ask about the distance course and TESL Canada.

I'm lucky enough to have a Safeway just a few blocks from my house, but the nearest Walmart would take me at least an hour to get to Sad Fortunately it's a moot point, since Jeff has kindly informed me that the course videos are now available on CD-ROM.
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PostPosted: Fri May 18, 2007 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi again Meeks, sorry that it's taken me a while to get back to you.

Yes, doing at least a basic qualification makes sense if you're thinking of teaching in Canada also. Do they offer the chance of getting a bit of actual work experience with them after completing the training? Even just a few weeks can make all the difference with subsequent employers (your reference would probably be glowing - you seem keen and will likely be a good teacher! Razz ).

Harmer's books are often recommended in the UK (bear in mind that whole EFL vs ESL thing, although 'ELT' can help blur the line somewhat): his How to Teach English isn't bad (and now in a 2nd edition, complete with a DVD of demo classes - one side of the disc offers PAL, the other NTSC).

More books in the How to... series:

CELTA tips: ('CELTA Without Tears')

Very Happy

Then there's Harmer's lengthier The Practice of ELT.

The problem with these books, as I intimated before, is that they really are a bare minimum, providing little more than tight methodology into which the language is "conveniently" shoe-horned. A serious teacher will need to continue learning (learning about) the(ir) language for years to come.

I'll mention reference works etc later, but first I have to say that IMHO, the most important thing a teacher needs to always be thinking about is their "voice", how they talk (or at least intended to talk) in class - native-like, friendly, conversational? etc; from this, all else follows in developing an approach. To this end, the following nine books are very stimulating (and should probably be approached in the order that I've indicated):
>M.Lewis & J.Hill, Practical Techniques (LTP)
>J.Richards, The Context of Language Teaching (CUP)
>B.Seidlhofer, Controversies in Applied Linguistics (CUP) (the second chapter, on corpus linguistics, is excellent, as is the first, on English internationally. Try also the one on SLA, though this will be tougher going. Something in the meantime to wet your whistle regarding corpus linguistics: )
>A.Howatt, A History of ELT (OUP)
>C.Brumfit and K. Johnson (eds), The Communicative Approach to Language Teaching (OUP)
>M. Lewis, The Lexical Approach (LTP)
>G.Brown & G.Yule, Teaching the Spoken Language (CUP)
>S.Thornbury & D.Slade, Conversation: From Description To Pedagogy (CUP) (also, do a search for 'Dogme' on the Teacher forums. Carter & McCarthy's Cambridge Grammar of English, Tsui's English Conversation (OUP), and Brazil's A Grammar of Speech are several more books that go further into the nature of speech)
>G.Aston, Learning Comity (CLUEB)
>J.Jenkins, The Phonology of English as an International Language (OUP)

Following on from Lewis are these books specifically on lexis (surely one of the most approachable yet USEFUL areas of (applied) linguistic enquiry):
>N.Schmitt, Vocabulary in Language Teaching (CUP)
>N.Schmitt & M. McCarthy (eds), Vocabulary: Description, Acquisition and Pedagogy (CUP) (smoothly edited collection of papers, with commentary)
>R.Carter & M.McCarthy (eds), Vocabulary and Language Teaching (Longman) (the paper by Sinclair & Renouf, on lexical syllabuses, is a MUST READ!)
>I.Nation, Learning Vocabulary in Another Language (CUP) (will fill any holes left by above three books)

(The above could lead into somewhat more specialized books on polysemy etc:
>Y.Ravin & C. Leacock (eds), Polysemy: Theoretical and Computational Approaches (OUP)
>E.Hatch & C.Brown, Vocabulary, Semantics, and Language Education (CUP)
>J.Taylor, Linguistic Categorization (OUP)
>books by George Lakoff
>W.Croft & D.Cruse, Cognitive Linguistics (CUP))

And where we would we be without mentioning a few books that discuss 'grammar' (and the teaching of it) to death:
>M.Swan, Grammar (Oxford Introductions to Language Study; this could also go in the 'linguistics' section below)
>G.Leech et al, English Grammar for Today: A New Introduction, Second Edition (Crystal's Rediscover Grammar and especially his Making Sense of Grammar are also good introductions to grammar)
>M.Bygate et al (eds), Grammar and the Language Teacher (unfortunately out of print)
>D.Willis, The Lexical Syllabus:
>C.Coffin, A.Hewings & K.O'Halloran (eds), Applying English Grammar: Functional and Corpus Approaches (Hodder/OU) (the chapters in the introductory section A, especially Martin's 'Grammatical Structure: what do we mean?', are all well worth reading)
>G.Thompson, Introducing Functional Grammar 2nd edn (illuminates Halliday's approach specifically, but with some good explanations in general)
>R.A.Jacobs, English Syntax: A Grammar for English Language Professionals (Oxford) (a Chomskyan approach?! Interesting, though)

If you find yourself getting into linguistics, the following can help offer a more detailed yet still cohesive picture:
>L.Trask, Key Concepts in Language and Linguistics (Routledge)
>D.Crystal, A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics, Fifth Edition (Blackwell); The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language; The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
(>P.H.Matthews, The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics)
>M.Aronoff & J.Rees-Miller (eds), The Handbook of Linguistics (Blackwell)
>G.Sampson, The Language Instinct Debate (Continuum, revised edition of earlier 'Educating Eve')
>M.Tomasello, The Cultural Origins of Human Cognition (Harvard)
>R.Van Valin & R.LaPolla, Syntax: Structure, Meaning, and Function (CUP)
>R.Mairal & J.Gil (eds), Linguistic Universals (CUP) (and if the philosophy of language appeals, then Jose Medina's Language: Key Concepts in Philosophy could be just the thing, particularly since it does actually mention quite a few linguists, including functionalists)
(>A.Davies & C.Elder (eds), The Handbook of Applied Linguistics (Blackwell))
((>J.Richards et al, The Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and Applied Linguistics))

But for second language learners and teachers, there's nothing as practical as the aforementioned (in Seidlhofer) Corpus Linguistics (which links to works on lexis, above, and grammar, below: in a word, the 'lexicogrammar' of texts):
>G.Kennedy, An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics (Longman 1998)
>S.Hunston, Corpora in Applied Linguistics (CUP 2002)
>T.McEnery et al, Corpus-based Language Studies (Routledge 2006) (See also Stubbs' chapter in Davies & Elder, above; Tognini-Bellini's chapter in Coffin et al, above; Lewis, above, and various references and/or chapters in particularly the books on lexis generally, also above).

Grammar and usage (reference works), arranged according to the frequency with which I consult them:
>the various learner dictionaries mentioned in the following thread:
>Collins COBUILD on CD-ROM
>The Oxford Guide to English Grammar (John Eastwood)
>M.Swan, Practical English Usage (2nd edn is still fine)
>The Grammar Book 2nd edition (by Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman) (this has some discussion of the nature and place of grammar in TESL, and could have easily been included in the 'grammar' section above, but it is ultimately likely to be retained as a reference book rather than ever completely finished when a coursebook)
>M.Parrot, Grammar for English Language Teachers (CUP)
>L.Trask, The Penguin Dictionary of English Grammar
>G.Leech, A Glossary of English Grammar
>A.Cruse, A Glossary of Semantics and Pragmatics
>S.Chalker & E.Weiner, The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar
>M.Pearce, The Routledge Dictionary of English Language Studies
>Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English (plus Workbook) (the full-size parent LGSWE is preferable, but also much more expensive!)

And here are two infamous books that you'll probably feel you'll need to get around to looking at at some point: M.Lewis, The English Verb, and G.Leech, Meaning and the English Verb (3rd edn).

Finally, books such as Rose Senior's The Experience of Language Teaching, or Bowen & Marks' Inside Teaching might help you relate your "training" to your "career".

This post is sort of a combination of quite a few others (where I recommended most of these books before).

Last edited by fluffyhamster on Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:37 pm; edited 19 times in total
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PostPosted: Sat May 19, 2007 12:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quite all right, as I'm in no particular rush! Thank you very much for taking the time to compile this list (not to mention for the vote of confidence re my likely success as a teacher!) Is there a particular reason some of the titles are in bold?

There seems to be enough material here and on the Teacher forums to keep me busy for awhile; it looks like a visit to the library is in order! Thanks again! [/quote]
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PostPosted: Mon May 21, 2007 3:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, the ones in bold are just those that I think are especially worth getting hold of. Wink
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PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2007 10:38 pm    Post subject: Teaching Practicum Reply with quote

I am working for a project offering tuition-free and full TESL teacher training for students from developing countries. This is done on a Far Distance basis.

As regards the teaching practicum, we require our students to look for a decent school in their local area where they can do their teaching practicum (minimum 120 hours of classroom teaching under the guidance of an experienced teacher). Upon successful completion of their teaching practicum, they are expected to send us a written statement from their school certifying the successful completion of their teaching practicum.

In essence, a Far Distance school obviously cannot really provide for the practical side of teacher training. But the mininum it could do is to organise and provide for alternative work-arounds as described above.

Considering the previous very positive experiences we have had with this in the past 2 years, I personally cannot see any reason why itr could not be done this way also in your case. If you find a decent Far Distance institution ask them in advance whether this would acceptable under which circumstances/conditions. Make respective arrangements with them before you start work in your teaching practicum.

We have our students take their teaching practicum after completing Module 4 on ESL Methodology and before taking Module 5 on CALL. By then, they will have completed two thirds of their studies in the program already. Students who are in the teaching profession already (e.g., English teachers and enroll for this program with the intent to pursue it in terms of "Continuing Education") will be fully exempted from this practical teaching requirement. In addition to each of the module exams, there is a final exam focusing on their experiences in the teaching practicum or similar.

This is the way we are doing it, and there may be other similar instiutions doing it differently. In countries like Kenya or Haiti, our students would normally do their teaching practicum at state-run schools (any level), in other countries they would do it somewhere else.

Hope that these details provide some basic points for orientation. However, I cannot and do not claim that this the only possible way to handle it.

Good luck!
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