TP1? GOJ? The schwa? – But what does it all mean?
The Trinity CertTESOL course here at TEFL in Italy is a whirlwind, fun-filled rollercoaster tour of TEFL teaching, ultimately comprised of four written assignments and observed teaching practice, along with input sessions focusing on language awareness, teaching techniques and careers advice, among many other elements!
If it sounds like a lot, (well, it is, but it’s doable!) then don’t worry, as here we will break down the different assignments within the course into more manageable chunks for you to digest!
Unknown Language Journal
Arguably the most fun element of the course, the Unknown Language Journal (ULJ) is a voyage of discovery for our trainees. Designed to replicate a TEFL classroom with an immersive approach to learning, the trainees are spoken to solely in the unknown language, from the very beginning!
Now, although this may seem daunting, it is surprising how much one can learn when the teacher uses paralinguistic cues, like facial expressions, realia and body language.
The unknown languages vary, depending on the previous language learning experiences of the trainees on the course, but in the past we’ve had Greek, Swahili and Cornish! That’s something to brag about back home!
Trainees write the Unknown Language Journal about the 4 lessons they have experienced, answering honestly to questions such as ‘How did being corrected make you feel?’ or ‘What methodologies did you take away from the lesson?’ Of all of the assignments, it could be argued to be the most fun to fill out, and considerably shorter than the Learner Profile Assignment – that’s for sure!
Guided Observation Journal
This journal (GOJ) is filled out in a similar style to that of the Unknown Language Journal. The difference however, is that the trainee takes on the role of the observer, as opposed to the student.
Our trainees observe 4 classes, taught by qualified teachers, making notes as an observer. The classes last for 60 or 90 minutes. One of the classes may also be a video, previously recorded in a TEFL classroom. They will later reflect on their experience observing, answering similarly-styled questions, such as ‘What ideas did you obtain from observing this lesson?’ and ‘How effectively were the materials used?’
Trainees generally find this assignment to be extremely helpful in their own teaching, because they see classroom strategies in action, and can decide which they think would work in their own classroom.
Well, well, well… where to begin with the Learner Profile Assignment?
Most trainees find this to be the most useful and interesting assignment on the course, however they also find it to be the most intense and time-consuming!
Within this unit, each trainee is assigned an individual learner, with whom they have an initial meeting to assess their language level in the different disciplines (reading, writing, speaking, listening). Following on from this, the trainee must carry out an in-depth analysis of the learner’s needs, looking at language 1 interference, phonological, lexical and grammatical errors in both speaking and writing, and taking into account the learner’s motivation for learning (e.g. for a professional context / general conversational English). Bonus points if you mention the ‘schwa’ sound here! (It’s just a sound that is commonly added by mistake to the end of words, don’t worry!)
Sound like a lot? Fear not! The trainers are fully aware that this assignment will feel a little overwhelming, and there are PLENTY of focus sessions and extra support if ever you need it.
After the initial analysis, you will then teach the learner for an hour, a lesson that you’ve planned specifically for them, based on their individual needs.
You’ll do a rough plan for 5 more lessons (but don’t worry – you won’t have to teach them too!) and give a general summary of how the lesson went, what you would change in the future, and how useful the process of the assignment has been for you.
Easy-peasy, right? Honestly, this takes a long time to do, but the course is designed to incorporate the workload, so there really is no need to panic because it’ll all get done in plenty of time!
This is the final assignment of the course, revolving around a material you will have designed yourself, and incorporated into one of your Teaching Practices! It’s usually used in either TP6 or TP7, as these are your final lessons of the course and you’ll have a better idea of what works for you in the classroom!
In contrast to the Learner Profile, there is a very strict word limit of 500 words in this assignment. You’ll probably find it difficult trimming down everything you want to say, but it’s a very useful skill to practice.
Also, this is the only assignment that you will discuss with the moderator on during your Trinity CertTESOL moderation, so make sure you know your material inside out!
Ta-da! All of the assignments in a nutshell!
So that was all of the assignments, but it must be stressed that a large proportion of the course is taken up by teaching practice, in which you will plan lessons, teach them, and then reflect upon your progress. There are 7 Teaching Practice lessons (the first of which doesn’t count), so plenty of time to work out your best classroom techniques!
If this all sounds appealing to you, why not sign up to one of our upcoming courses? We offer 4-week full time and 8-week part time courses to suit your schedule!
Don’t forget to check out our TEFL testimonials from past trainees and find out why it was the best thing they’ve ever done!