Aoife McLoughlin completed the Trinity Dip. TESOL with Oxford TEFL in 2013. Here she explains her reasons for taking the course and about her experiences during the online and face to face phase.
Why did you take the Trinity Dip. TESOL course?
After teaching adults and teens for over three years and then getting a taste of academic management as Assistant Director of Studies, the next natural step for me was to embark on a higher qualification in TESOL.
As much as I loved teaching, I felt my real home was in management and my beady eyes were on the Director of Studies chair! I was also quite aware that nowadays, a TESOL diploma or equivalent is required for the majority of Director of Studies roles and felt that ‘upskilling’ was what I needed to do! So I began to do some research ….
After getting vivid flashbacks of late night essay-writing from my days in Uni all those years ago, I took a few deep breaths and eventually managed to come to terms with the fact that I was about to trade 9 months of my life for 9 months of full-time study. But now I had to make another decision; Trinity Diploma in TESOL or the Cambridge DELTA.
Why the Trinity Diploma in TESOL?
After doing my research on both and talking to people who had done one or the other, I chose the Trinity Diploma for its focus on phonology, its comprehensive online program and three-week, face-to-face component. I also felt more confident doing my observed teaching practice component over a short period on the Trinity Diploma with qualified trainers as opposed to sourcing my own in-house tutor and having observations spread over the duration of the course. After making that decision, I applied to Oxford TEFL.
Why Oxford TEFL?
I like structure; I’m a spreadsheet kinda gal and I’m not ashamed to say it. I was drawn to the structure of Oxford TEFL’s online program, where new modules are uploaded on to the Moodle platform weekly. We had our logins to access all materials and could follow each module at our own pace (providing we met our weekly deadlines of course).
The support offered by tutors and the regular interaction you have with your virtual classmates from around the world is a big part of this course and even though it’s all online, you quickly build connections with people. Guest tutors and ELT experts such as Lindsay Clandfield, Nicky Hockly and Adrian Underhill were also organized for selected modules to answer questions and discuss their work; that was a real bonus.
This course requires a substantial amount of self-study, reading, essay-writing and online discussion, but because it’s only nine months, there is a light at the end of the tunnel from day one (keep looking, it’s there somewhere.)
And the face-to-face component?
I got the opportunity in August, 2013 to spend three weeks in Oxford TEFL in beautiful Prague, away from the distractions of everyday life to study for my written exam, prepare for my phonology interview and meet friends I had made online, in real life!
Don’t be fooled by the illusion of a three-week holiday at the end of the course! I returned to Ireland as pale-skinned as I’d left after lesson planning from dawn till dusk each day. It was about 30 degrees in Prague, but even though I spent the majority of my time staring at a computer screen, it was all worthwhile and lesson-planning in such detail made me reflect on my teaching style in an entirely new way. Scrutinizing every decision I made, predicting possible learning difficulties for students and ensuring I was taking each of their learning styles and individual abilities in to account made me really think about every aspect of my teaching in great depth. This level of analysis, I believe has given me more self-awareness and has made me a more effective teacher for sure.
The practical hands-on experience of the assessed observations and more crucially, the face-to-face Interviews, both pre and post lessons, were crucial to my development as a teacher. I learned so much about my own teaching style and how to develop my techniques in such a short period of time.
How have you developed?
Completing the Diploma has given me the confidence, not only in my own abilities as a teacher but also the knowledge and experience to support and mentor our growing team of teachers.
The course has opened me up to an industry of professionals I didn’t know existed; it’s developed my interest in current trends within ELT and has helped me develop as a teacher. Gaining feedback on my teaching at Diploma level has become a huge asset to me in my current role as I’m regularly observing teachers and offering them advice and tips that I wouldn’t have been able to do beforehand. I’ve also started writing on topics that I would have researched and read about on the course.
This year, myself and my colleague Cheryl Malanek (who also did the Trinity Diploma with Oxford TEFL in Barcelona in 2012) started an ELT blog, www.elt-connect.com where we post teaching tips and insights weekly and also design free CEFR downloadable lessons (with teachers notes) for teachers all over the world to try out with their students. I’m not sure I would have taken on this task without having the Diploma up my sleeve.
If you’re considering taking on the Diploma beast, do! It’s hard work and you’d best forget binge-watching another box set until it’s all done and dusted (I had no idea what Breaking Bad was!) but it’s well worth the slog!! If you’re thinking of going with Oxford TEFL, they come highly recommended.
If you are not sure if the Trinity dip. TESOL course is for you, take our quiz.