Ok, so you know how you have a plan in your head sometimes of how you want something to go? You planned ahead, checked the details, prepared and psyched yourself up? Well trust me, that all goes out of the window when you get to Florence train station only to miss your train because the platform is literally about a thousand miles away (or feels like it when you have legs as short as mine) and it leaves without you.
Today was the first day of my intensive 4 week TEFL course and it’s safe to say that it was certainly interesting.....
Once I had found another (much slower...) train and got myself on it I found my way to Borgo San Lorenzo, a town about 30km north east of Florence. This is where the TEFL course is taking place, at Centro Studi Mugello. At Centro Studi Mugello there are a wide range of English language courses available for the local community, for everyone from young children to adults of all ages and levels.
I was introduced to some of the staff and then it was straight to it! TEFL time!
There is only a small group for this course and today there was just the 2 of us with Kristin as our tutor. After introductions, my fellow TEFL course participant is Nikoletta from Albania, we were given our course introduction packs and went through all of the form signing, rules, requirements etc. We were also given our 4 week timetable. Kristin you were not lying when you told me a while ago that this isn’t a vacation....
The next 4 weeks are going to be jam packed with TEFL! It is exciting but also very daunting. We went through the timetable a day at a time and 4 days in, this coming Thursday, we have to teach our first English lesson to a real class of students! All whilst being observed! Now every one of my colleagues back in England will understand when I say the word “microteach”, right? I’m not lying when I say I am so nervous about this first teaching session.
I may be nervous but I am also confident that I will be well prepared. There are a few days to get through first and they will involve planning for the lesson, so fingers crossed!
After we went through the timetable, which included assignments and due dates etc, we got started and went on to learn more about all of the abbreviations that we may come across and the different levels relating to student abilities. These include things such as ESOL, TESOL, ELL, DipTESOL, TEYL and CEFR levels A1 to C2 amongst others. I really thought this was helpful because although I have experience with ESOL (English to Speakers of Other Languages) I wasn’t sure what a lot of the others meant and also learning about the different levels from A1 (true beginner) to C2 (proficient) was so helpful as these are the levels that students in Europe are graded. I made a lot of notes!
We spent time later talking about all of the skills involved (listening, reading etc) and how we can support students with these. We then watched some videos of different lessons where the teachers used different methods and we had to evaluate and discuss what we thought – this was great because through sharing our opinions and knowledge with each other we definitely picked up some new knowledge and ideas, I know I did.
We talked about the importance of communicative activities and all of the different types and variations we can use to support the learners to have their own authentic and meaningful conversations. Again, so useful. I am already thinking about my presentation (due Friday!) on this and what I can do to really get the students engaged and learning.
At the end of the day we talked about how we felt, Nikoletta and I, and we are both really looking forward to the next four weeks. We have someone else joining us from next week so it will be great to hear someone else’s ideas as well.
Personally, I’m looking forward to getting stuck in and getting back to it tomorrow! First, I had better complete the homework tasks we have been set though hey?!
The train journey back to Florence went much smoother than the one this morning and on the way home (honestly it's still weird to say I live in Florence now) I stopped for some dinner and a lovely glass of wine. Pinched myself yet again walking back to the apartment as I walked past the Duomo. It really is incredible. Brunelleschi really did a great job with that dome!
What a day!
See you tomorrow with more TEFL!