TEFL Certified

A couple of weeks ago, I completed my online certification for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, or TEFL, and I got a fabulous piece of paper saying that much. Certifications are fine, and all, but they really don't mean a whole lot unless you actually learn something from the course, and can apply that knowledge to your life.


I had two reasons for taking this course. My ultimate goal was to use this knowledge and experience to get a job as an ALT in Japan through the JET Program. Having a TEFL certificate would help my chances to get the job.

After applying and interviewing for the position, I felt very inexperienced and novice as a teacher. So, while having a simple certificate saying I was TEFL certified might help me get the job, and I actually needed the knowledge and experience so I could actually do the job once I got it.

I looked to this course for guidance, definition, and technique. And, I really took this course in two parts.

Taking the Course

For the first lessons, there was plenty of definition. While it seemed like a lot of obvious information, it was clear and verbose. There were plenty of questions that I could answer, but never really thought about that much in depth before. A teacher must be knowledgeable, patient, energetic, adaptive, and a learner. They must be a manager, organizer, resource, model, and tutor.

When I made it to Unit 9, that's where technique, lesson planning and execution, was introduced into the course. And this is also where I stopped for about 4 months. The JET program had finally accepted me, and I was going to Japan! When I got to Japan, I was very nervous. Even though, I had plenty of definition, it's really no substitute for experience or training.

I fumbled along in classes, but I tried my best. I made sure to keep eye contact, keep a sharp authoritative voice, be consistent, and be a model for the students. The definitions I had learned were in my mind, and I tried to stay true to them as best as I could.


When I finally picked up Unit 9 again, I was absolutely amazed at how useful all the information on lesson planning had become to me. All the information up to Unit 9 felt very nice to have, and good in theory, but didn't really help me in a concrete way.

From Unit 9 on, all the planning, and structure helped me build my own lessons for my classes. It was fantastic. Most of my initial lesson plans fell a little flat, and didn't really have any flow. Once I started going through all the Units, my lesson plans became pretty solid, and I felt like the students really took away something in class. They had fun, and left with a smile. :)

I feel like I was able to get all 3 things I wanted from this course. I found plenty of definition in the beginning. Once I was able to put this course to use, all the techniques I learned were incredibly helpful. And after completing this course, I have all the answers to go back through whenever I need guidance, and just a reminder on what I should be doing in class.

So while I got piece of paper that says I'm a TELF certified, I feel I have the confidence and knowledge to back it up, and that's what I needed from this course.

And, as a final test of that knowledge, I had to write an essay about teaching for a number of available topics. So, I choose and wrote about the following:

The Role of a Teacher

The role a teacher plays in the lives of students is significant. The teacher's role in the classroom is of obvious importance, but the job of a teacher isn't over when class finishes, or when school is over for the day. A teacher is a teacher all hours of the day, all days of the week. They are ambassadors of education, and the most important roles for a teacher are to be a manager, an organizer, a resource, a tutor, and a model.

One of the most important roles a teacher must be is a manager. A teacher needs to take control of the class, and chart its course for success. They need to command respect of their students, and let them know they're in charge. That doesn't mean you must "rule" with an iron fist, though. Be strict, but be patient, kind, and always listen to your students. The class isn't about you. It's about them. Knowing their needs will make you an effective manager.

The backing behind an effective manager is being able to organize your class. A teacher needs to be able to give instructions to their students, and have them able to complete work for themselves. A teacher needs to keep their students on task and focused on the subject. And a teacher needs to know how to use the classroom to promote learning of the subject.

However, a teacher must always be there for their student when they run into a trouble. As a resource, the teacher is their primary source of material for the course, and should have the ability to answer any question the student has. This doesn't mean that the teacher needs to know everything. A good teacher must be a student, too, and always be hungry for knowledge. They need to have the resources themselves to find out more, and demonstrate that new knowledge to the students.

As a resource, you help out those most curious, but as a tutor you help out those in need the most. The role of a tutor promotes trust among the students, and let's them know that no one is left behind. The teacher will always be there for them, and they can always ask questions. In a teacher's life, the students must always come first. It's your mission to see that they all succeed and flourish.

And lastly, while being a manager holds great importance in the classroom, I think that being a model is the most important role for a teacher. The students must come first, but holding yourself to the same standard you expect of them should come to a near second. Students look to you as an example, and you need to provide them with an exemplary one. A teacher needs to have confidence in themselves, and their knowledge of the subject to be taken seriously. If you don't have confidence in yourself, then students won't have confidence in you.

I think it's the most important role because it doesn't end when class or school is over. Students are around you all the time, so you must be a model citizen, too. Your behavior in real life must be consistent with your behavior in the classroom, or else the students will lose confidence and faith in you as a person.

All 5 of these roles build a very well rounded teacher. A tutor and resource build trust and confidence. A manager and organizer build respect and structure. And a model shows them how to use their knowledge and enlighten their lives. I've been a teacher for 3 months now, and I make sure to inhabit these 5 roles at school and in my daily life.

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