The past few weeks have been some of the most intense I can remember in my teaching career. I’ve written more than 30,000 words, been seemingly glued to my laptop way into the wee hours, and drunk a lot of instant coffee. Yes, I’ve just finished the teaching practice element of my Trinity DipTESOL, along with the written exam and phonology interview.
I found myself slipping quite smoothly into my old “super-study” routine I adopted while doing my MA in Modern History back when I was university, and I surprised myself by how well I did in observations and the phonology component. I suppose for the first few years of working in TEFL, the people with the Dips or DELTAs were my Senior Teachers or DoSs, the serious, sensible teachers who knew what to do in every situation. Now that I’m in that position myself I realise that wasn’t the case at all, but what I have come to understand is that the chunk of my life I’ve spent teaching English hasn’t all been for nothing; I have learnt a thing or two and I do have some useful ideas.
Someone said to me that anyone who says they enjoy a Diploma-level course is lying. And I totally take their point. It was a lot of work, and none of it was easy. But in a way I do feel that I enjoyed it: it’s five and half years since I finished my Certificate, and aside from learning new bits and bobs to go with whatever level or exam class I was teaching, I can’t say that I’ve really had to push myself to the limit in this industry. That’s not a reflection on the hard work and dedication of the people I know in this industry, of course. But it’s TEFL, it’s not brain surgery.
Something it has brought to my mind is that, as an industry, we really should be questioning why someone has worked for a considerable length of time in an English classroom and hasn’t thought about making the leap to Diploma level. What are they here for? I can honestly say the Diploma has crystallised my ideas about teaching into something more coherent than before I began, and I feel like I’m more ready to make a meaningful impact on the education of my students. There is a perception that the Dip or the DELTA is about becoming a Director of Studies and moving into management, when that should really be a different qualification. So there will be many teachers who do a CELTA or Certificate and then are never seen again by assessors, and whose only professional development is based on the CPD schedule of a language school or going to conferences (or not!).