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As the TESOL teaching profession becomes more and more competitive, finding a good teaching job requires higher qualifications. In Europe, the TESOL teaching certificate is the base qualification. There are a number of different names for this teaching certificate including the TESL teaching certificate and TEFL teaching certificate. After that, teachers who are committed to the profession will usually go on to take the TESOL diploma. The TESOL Diploma is a full year's course and is currently highly valued in Europe.
This main purpose of this diploma (besides, let's be honest, improving career qualifications) is to give the TESOL teacher a broad overview of the principal approaches to teaching and learning English. The course serves to raise the teacher's consciousness as to what learning processes are taking place during language acquisition and instruction. The basis is on an underlying teaching philosophy of "Principled Eclecticism". In other words, no one method is taught as being "correct". An inclusive approach is taken, giving each school of thought its due, while also examining its possible shortcomings. The objective of the diploma is to give the TESOL teacher the necessary tools to evaluate and apply different teaching methods to meet each student's needs.
Taking the Course
The distance learning method has both its positive and negative side. There is a massive amount of information to get through and it takes quite a bit of self-discipline to complete the coursework effectively. Certain areas of study also seem to play a larger role than others. Thus, phonetics and phonology play a leading role in the makeup of the course (30% of modules and ¼ of the exam), while other, more practical subjects such as reading and writing, play a relatively minor role. In general, the emphasis is on teaching and learning theory and not necessarily on the application of specific instruction methods. However, the practical part of the diploma does focus very specifically on teaching theory.
Logistically, the support and help from Sheffield Hallam and the course directors at English Worldwide were excellent. The final intensive course of five days was essential for the successful completion of the course. This session was in many ways the most satisfying part of the course and served to unify all the various schools of thought studied, as well as providing practical exam writing practice.
- Self-discipline and good pacing throughout the entire academic year are of absolute importance in order to deal with all the material presented.
- As the exam itself concentrates not on single areas of instruction, but rather to global issues, relate parts to the whole on a continuing basis.
- Get some kind of holiday break in before the final intensive week and exam preparation.
The following other articles and accounts of studying for various teaching certifications.
- A review of the i-to-i Online Tefl Certificate
- The British Council's 404 TEFL Qualifications Guide