My name is Samukelisiwe, I’m from Durban, South Africa, and I’ve been working as an online TEFL teacher for about a year now!
When I first decided to try out a TEFL course, I booked a 120 Hour Certificate with i-to-i TEFL. My decision to try out TEFL was influenced by a friend, who had been attending in-person classes for the same thing. I decided to book an online course with i-to-i instead, however, because it cost around 25% of what her school was charging! Now, because I was working full time, I could only study after work on days when I wasn’t feeling too tired, or on weekends when I had no plans. Because of that, it took me over a year to study. But I’m glad I didn’t give up because now I’ve got about a year of work experience to show for it!
Just to give you an idea of what to expect or how to complete your TEFL course, I’m going to share some top tips with you guys, and this is all based on my experience.
When I began studying, I quickly realized that this was not about how you stand in front of people and speak or read, but about your understanding of what you are going to be teaching. And that is how I also got to better understand the English language all over again.
So, my 10 top tips for you would be:
Tip 1: Select the right course in the first place
You want to enjoy what you’re studying and make sure that it is the right course to match the TEFL work that you want to do when you qualify. The best way to figure this out is to speak to the i-to-i team, and they will discuss all your options with you. If you know it is going to get you where you want to go, you will have more motivation to keep working through it.
Tip 2: Don’t rush through it, study to gain understanding
This is the most important tip, as every unit ends with a quiz or a ‘test for understanding’ if I can put it that way. Make sure that you fully understand the content of each unit and what it’s teaching you, so that you don’t do poorly on the end of unit test and have to start again, because you cannot move onto the next unit until you pass the previous one.
Tip 3: Create a realistic study schedule
I understand that people have work, school, a social life, huge families (where you hardly have time to be alone in silence), and chores. So, create a realistic study schedule that works for you, even if it means you only do a few hours of study throughout the day. Having a study schedule will also help you focus better, as you will have allocated a specific amount of time for study. I would only plan to study during the hours you are usually free, so you aren’t going to get distracted or have to keep rearranging things!
Tip 4: Separate your course units into small sections
This will make it easier to digest the information, so it actually goes in! A good example would be to study a bit of your first chapter, and after seeing how long each unit takes you to complete, you decide on the number of units you want to study per hour, or hours per day. Go at your pace, don’t worry about anyone else.
Tip 5: Keep your deadline in mind
Everyone will have a time they want to complete the course by in their head (I certainly did). Keep your deadline, and the deadline that you have set by i-to-i, in mind and factor this in when you do your study schedule. You can even keep an eye on how you’re doing with the percentage tracker at the top of your course login page. It will be great motivation and give you something to work towards. When studying, aim to complete the number of units you set aside for each date on that particular day. Do not log out until you’ve achieved your study aim – it will be worth all the hard work! And if you have to extend your course, it isn’t the end of the world. I did it! It’s better that you understand everything and work at your own pace, rather than rushing to get finished by the deadline.
Tip 6: Feel free to make written notes
Don’t be afraid to write down notes of new information that you come across, or explanations for grammar practices that you did not have a clear understanding of in the past. This will really help you with the course and it will also help when you need to teach this information/grammar to your future students.
Tip 7: Always stop and get clarification when you are confused
This might seem weird for an English teacher to have to do, but you cannot teach anybody something if you don’t understand it yourself! For example, if you come across a word that you do not understand, take the time to google the meaning, so that you do not get stuck at the end of unit test and you can enrich your own vocabulary. There is also a great academic team on hand at i-to-i for any questions Google can’t answer for you. So there is no excuse to give up!
Tip 8: Do not skip any videos
The course consists of lots of helpful material that gives you an idea of what your teaching career will be like. When you take the time to watch these, a lot of the instruction and information will make more sense. It’s never a separate random video, it’s always an extension of what you have read but with more insight. Definitely worth watching!
Tip 9: Save or download all the lesson material provided
This will help you save time and not have to go back to previous units trying to find your teaching material. So, the first time you come across any material or resources that you are being provided with, just save it in a folder on your PC. It means you can still use it once you’re qualified as well, if you want to check on any points when you’re teaching or have some great teaching resources to hand!
Tip 10: Treat the course like your job or school
Figuratively speaking, take it seriously and make time for it! But I also meant this literally. If you’re currently unemployed or taking a gap year, you could treat studying for the TEFL qualification like a 9-5 job, so you are getting it done in the fastest time possible and can start earning sooner. Remember to give yourself a break at mid-day and then go back to your personal lifestyle in the evenings, so you don’t get burnt out.
I hope that the above tips are helpful to you. This is how I was able to quickly complete my TEFL course and that is why I trust that these tips will also set you up for success! Feel free to ask me any questions on my social media, on posts I’ve shared, and for more in-depth assistance you can contact i-to-i’s helpful staff, they are reliable and always available!