Hopeful Tefl

The journey of a hopeful TEFL-er

As I mentioned resources earlier, when I found this it seemed a good idea to reblog it. After all, this could be a valuable source of ideas, or content for any number of EFL lessons, although I thought it would be primarily useful for listening and, possibly, fluency exercises.

Or you could just set them as homework…

Weekly English Practice

Learning strategies – how to learn more and better

This week we show you how to use songs to practice, learn and improve your English.

Firstly, go to: http://www.lyricstraining.com

In the search box at the top of the page enter the name of a band or a song. When the search results appear on the screen, choose the song you want to practice with.

In the images below you can see that we have choosen the Beatles classic ‘Love Me Do’.

‘lyricstraining.com’ is a simple gap fill game. You can choose from three different levels – Beginner, Intermediate and Expert. The highter the level, the more gaps (lyrics) you must complete. As the music plays you will see the lyrics of the song below the video. You have to complete the words that are missing (·····). If you don’t write the word the music will stop. It won’t start again…

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Resource: First Lesson Advice

Ok, so in the interest of trying to build up a resource base available to you guys and myself, I’m going to post a question or topic, and ask you lot to respond with advice, tips, or problems, and generally get a comment thread going. I don’t know how often yet, we’ll just see how this goes.

I really hope you guys join in, because at the moment, the sad state of affairs is that I get more feedback and interaction from people looking at pictures of my new kitten (it’s a bit embarrassing).

So the first topic I’m putting out there is: First Lessons.

More accurately how do you prepare for them? What can you expect? Are there any old fall backs that you guys use?

I recently took part in a webinar that talked about this, and the main advice was to stay relaxed and to treat the first lesson as an ice-breaker and introduction to yourself and your students.

Can anyone expand on that? Does anyone else have a different approach?


Acceptance to Internship

This afternoon, when I finally got ’round to checking my emails, I found an email innocently sitting in my inbox, from my application adviser entitled “TTC Winter 2013 Internship Acc…”. Well the “Acc…” was actually a word, but my email title column had cut it off.

As I read this title I felt my stomach perform an excited little jump before it settled down to wring its metaphorical hands in worry that the email wasn’t actually what I thought it was. It turned out that my stomach’s first response was the right one, and the email was what my stomach and I collectively thought it was.

That email, innocently sitting in my inbox, was in fact an acceptance email, informing me that I now have a place on the TTC Internship in February 2013. I was understandably quite excited.

Now, however, after I’ve had a chance for the contents of the email to sink in, I am considerably less elated. While the contents of the email, are indisputably positive, the effect that they have had on my ‘To Do’-list (or would have had if I kept one) is considerably less so.

Thanks to my acceptance upon the internship a whole host of new tasks has taken up residence on my non-existent ‘To Do’-list. These tasks range from the ever exciting planning of what I am going to take (which appeals to both my hoarding tendencies and my extreme planning ones – referred to by my mother as my megalomania)  to the mundane tasks of organising my inoculations and checking that my passport is still in date.

The devil of these tasks is that I know as soon as I complete one, at least one more (but often two or three) will make itself apparent. After all, isn’t that the purpose of pre-travel check lists and tasks? To never be finished?

I just hope that the mountain of tasks doesn’t completely sap all of my enthusiasm for the internship. There does have to be enough of it left over to survive the ten hour flight, the travel to my placement and my first lesson (after which I’m hoping that my motivation and enthusiasm will be somewhat bolstered).

In the mean time I will just have to relish my enthusiasm and do everything possible to complete those tasks inhabiting my absent ‘To Do’-list early, so that my enthusiasm survived the next five or so months until I am ready to board that flight.

Study Block

In the thousands of millions of places on the internet that you can read the writing of authors of any type or level you are, at some point, bound to come across the dreaded phrase “Writers Block”. It is very much an openly secret ailment suffered by every writer at one point or another. Everyone has heard of it, most of us have suffered it and it is always mentioned and read about with that strange mix of acceptance and absolute horror.

So much is writers’ block mentioned on the internet, that it’s reputation almost completely eclipses that of its close cousin, that I am currently fighting off with savage desperation: Study Block.

It is absolutely the worst possible ‘block’ I have ever dealt with. I know that once I start working on my TEFL course again I will get stuck in and get a load done in no time. I know that I may even enjoy the studying once I get started.

I can open the website and sit looking at my learning portal homepage. I can open the next lesson and read it through. But I just can’t START. I can’t make myself pay attention enough to take notes (an important part of my study process) or take in the lesson in any great detail.

This may sound just like a lack of attention or focus, but it’s deeper than that. It’s like my casual occasional procrastination has gone into compulsive overdrive. I can’t seem to focus on my course at all, but I can drive into town, buy a new book and read over a hundred pages. I can go swimming, or to the gym, or take a five-mile walk over Cannock Chase; but study towards my TEFL course? No chance!

What about you? What’s the worst case of ‘block’ (writers, study, etc.) that you have ever suffered? Do you have any advice or techniques on how to deal with it?

Not so shortened Beijing induction.

After my vitriolic post on Chalkboard (http://www.onlinetefl.com/tefl-chalkboard/laurelyn/posts/10827-shortened-beijing-induction), and numerous complaints on the part of my fellow interns on the China 2013 TTC Internship, TTC and i-to-i have, surprisingly, made an alteration to their decision to shorten the internship in Beijing.

There is now the choice between the fourteen day internship that we were originally offered and the five day option that TTC had shortened it to.

I, for one, will be choosing the fourteen day option that I paid for. Especially since it has been made clear that those who choose the five day induction will not be reimbursed for the shortened induction.

This fact alone has almost definitely ensured that nearly every one of the interns will choose the fourteen day induction. Afterall, let’s face it, if you were given the choice between fourteen days in Beijing or five days in Beijing for the same price, which would you choose?

So what do you guys think about the choice offered, is it worth TTC offering a five day internship at all, or should they have just scrapped the five day option and gone back to the fourteen day plan completely?

Valid Advice

As a person hoping to intern for five months teaching English in China, I am always looking for advice and methods for dealing with culture shock, and living in a foreign environment. So when I came across this post and realised how useful the advice could be, I just had to share it with everyone. I hope that at least one or two other people will find it as useful as I believe I will.

Marilyn R. Gardner

Today’s post is by Joann Pittman. Joann is a childhood friend who I’ve reconnected with in the past year. As a woman who has lived her entire life cross-culturally, Joanne is gifted at helping others learn to live effectively across cultures. You can read her full bio at the end, but for now enjoy this post on “Living Well Where You Don’t Belong”.

I have spent most of my life overseas, that is, not in my “passport country.” I am an American, but I spent the first 14 years of my life in Pakistan, where my father was a professor and pastor, and have spent the past 28 years living and working in China. This means that I have lots of practice in living where I don’t belong.

“Belonging”has multiple layers of meanings. One is purely internal, referring to how I feel about my place in whatever space…

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‘The Nuts and Bolts of English’

I can safely say, having finally completed the first module of the i-to-i 20 hour Grammar Awareness Course that I have forgotten far more about English Grammar than I thought there was to know.

More than that, not only had I forgotten large chunks of English grammar, but I am convinced that half of it isn’t even taught in UK schools. Even though I vividly remember the soul-destroying boredom of grammar lessons, going on twice a week for over a term. What were they teaching us? Because it certainly wasn’t grammar. All I can actually remember of the lessons, aside from their boredom inducing tendencies, is my absolute pride as a child in getting an ‘A’ grade on a piece of written drill work on how to use quotation marks. Which is hardly the kind of grammar that TEFL requires you to know. Further, the fact that this piece of work is the only one I remember, when the use of quotation marks confuses me completely these days, is ironic beyond all reason.  (Do I use inverted commas or quotation marks in this instance? Does anyone know? Will it matter? Will anyone notice? are my usual panicked thoughts when I am faced with a situation where I can’t avoid the use of the damned things)

While I am finding out and learning a lot more about English grammar than I ever knew existed before now, I must say two things. It’s a whole lot more complex than I expected, and it’s a lot more interesting (in that it-makes-me-think-and-challenges-me kind of way).

Incidentally, if anyone does know the exact rules of quotation marks vs inverted commas, please let me know….

Shorter Induction: Update

So, after a vitriolic post (read: ‘small essay’) I have gotten a response from i-to-i about the changes to the induction.

It’s little more than a placating press release spread over three comments, and it basically just said:

‘Thanks for letting us know that our communications were crap. We have taken all of the arguments you mentioned into account already, and have still come to this conclusion. It’s not changing, suck it up.’

Although I will admit that i-to-i used a much more polite and friendly turn of phrase, the message amounted to the same.

And from what I hear from people that emailed about a possible refund, that’s not gonna happen either.

Small consolation is the fact that at least they did respond and, in my case, attempt to explain the reasoning behind the change.

Shorter Induction

One of the key areas of feedback was that interns felt the orientation period that takes place in Beijing was too long. The customers we spoke to really enjoyed the activities provided during this period, however felt there was a lot of time spent waiting around in Beijing and they were keen to start teaching and commence with their TEFL journey.

As a result of this TTC have made the following changes to the internship programme commencing in February 2013:

  • Rather than having too much free time in Beijing prior to starting your program, the orientation period will be reduced from 14 days to 5 days. Please note that all activities currently within the China orientation such as city tour, acrobats show, welcome dinner and an i-to-i weekend TEFL course will still be included – you won’t miss out on anything!
  • Your arrival date will change from 10th February 2013 to 17th February 2013, meaning you’ve got an extra week to save some cash and say farewell to your friends and family before you start your adventure of a lifetime!
  • It also means that for those of you that are still working on your TEFL Course will have an extra week to do so, as the course completion deadline will extend from 10thJanuary 2013 to 17th January 2013
  • Instead of paying a visa fee to TTC upon arrival in cash, TTC will be requesting that all interns booked on the program you will pay for this via the internet to TTC before arrival in China. This allows TTC time to process your visa before arrival making this a much easier experience when you arrive in China. TTC will be in touch with all of you individually closer to the arrival date to make arrangements with you on this.

This is an extract from the email that I, and all of the other people enrolled on the TTC Internship for February 2013, received on 26th September from the i-to-i Courses Team. The changes to the visa processing makes sense and seems aimed at actually helping us prospective interns. However, the shortening of the induction period seems, to me, to be a thinly veiled money saving move on the part of TTC. After all, if the induction in Beijing is only five days and not fourteen then they have to pay for the accommodation of some 150 interns in a Beijing hotel for less than half of the original time span. The effectively reduce their own costs from the induction to less than half.

My question is this: If they are reducing their costs, shouldn’t that reduction in costs be passed along to the consumers (in this case, the interns) in the form of a refund for the time that they will now not be spending in Beijing?

But more importantly, will that happen?

Interview & the start of the Blog.

So this morning I had my interview for the TTC TEFL China Internship for February 2013. It went much better than I expected, and while I posted about it on the i-to-i site, it occurred to me that I could start my own blog about my journey through the world of TEFL. 

Just in case you stumbled here by accident TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. I’m working on an i-to-i TEFL course that will be 140 hours in total. It’s taking me a while, because I keep getting distracted. But I do need to finish it before January, I think. 

Anyway, here I will blog about my course, the process of applying for the internship in China, TEFL links and any interesting ideas I come across, or even resources I find useful (expect that to be a slow growing thing). 

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