David Pepper completed the Trinity Dip. TESOL in 2012. Here, he explains why he took the course and how he has developed as a teacher.
Why did you take the Trinity Dip. TESOL course?
I never planned to have a long term career in EFL. When I left industry; burnt out, disillusioned and generally unhappy with the world, I trained as a secondary teacher and added an EFL qualification to give me an excuse to continue travelling. However, I started to find that my management experience and maturity (a polite way of saying I am old) kept landing me senior roles in EFL.
One of the things I noticed was the huge gap between recognized theories of teaching and learning and the practice in the average EFL classroom. Teachers would attend conferences, listen to wise words from the stars of EFL, go back to their schools and continue to teach a page at a time from out of date books.
Then somebody offered me the chance to set up my own school, doing whatever I wanted, however I wanted, as long as it was the best available in its market. Our company specialises in linking EFL to sports coaching and wanted a product that used the students’ sporting passion to drive their language learning. Bluff called, I had to see how my pet theories stood closer examination. More than that, if I was to lead a team of teachers, I had to lead by example.
What I needed was an in-depth understanding of how the latest theories should influence what happens in the classroom and I had to improve my own teaching to ensure I could practise what I preached.
That’s where the Trinity Dip. TESOL came in.
Why the Trinity Diploma in TESOL?
I did the Trinity Cert. TESOL (the initial ‘TEFL’ certificate) and have always considered it more relevant than some of the alternatives. When I taught in ‘mainstream’ I didn’t like the idea that the people who wrote the books also wrote the exams and ran courses on how to pass their own exams. I have always wanted to teach the English that people need to live their lives rather than that needed to pass an exam.
The Trinity Dip. TESOL exam places a much greater emphasis on how to teach something than on how to explain it. Let’s be honest, most of us have to reach for Swan or Parrott when asked a difficult question on grammar. The question is, having looked it up, can you deliver the learning? In my view, too many EFL teachers are so in love with the language, so in love with their knowledge of the language, that they see teaching as a way of showing this off and not a way of helping students learn what they need.
Why Oxford TEFL?
Oxford TEFL were not my first choice. My first choice was a disaster that cost me a lot of time, money and heartache. Their approach to distance learning was to send a load of word documents every month with some questions at the end. When I first approached Oxford TEFL as a replacement, I was struck by the quality of almost everything they did. In over 10 years in education I had not seen an online programme of this quality. On reflection, I think the course has at least twice as much content as that needed to pass the exam, so there is a lot of scope to explore your own ideas, views and specialisms.
And the face-to-face component?
One of the reasons for choosing Oxford TEFL was the structure of their face-to-face component. Other providers want to observe you in your place of work and that would not work for me. I managed to fit this into my work timetable (I run a short course business) and do it in Cadiz. Bearing in mind that I wanted to improve my classroom skills, I was lucky with my mentors in Cadiz who provided motivating feedback in a great atmosphere. I was also fortunate with my fellow diploma students to lean on, and a great group of students to practise on.
(Another time let me tell you a story about the phonology exam and an aged dyslexic examinee!)
How have you developed?
Now the guilty secret: having passed the exam and the face-to-face phase I didn’t complete the three projects. I simply ran out of time and in any case I wasn’t in it for a piece of paper as I already have a PGCE and an MA. I still teach on occasions and make myself follow the rigours of the Diploma approach; I keep up to date with the latest publications, and even contribute to some. Most of all I run a school where the teaching is bang up to date, teachers return year after year in order to participate in our CPD programme and improve their teaching in a supportive and professional environment.
Read more of my rants here
Take a look at our business here where you may even see pictures of me teaching.
If you would like to learn more about the Trinity Dip. TESOL, visit the course page or contact us. You can also apply for this course by clicking here. If you are not sure if the Trinity Dip. TESOL course is for you, take our quiz.