Saturday, August 9, 2014

5 steps to quitting your job to become an ESL teacher - By Michelle D'Almeida

It is with sadness and pride that we bid farewell to Michell√© D’Almeida, who is leaving TKW to embark on her first overseas teaching post. Read her tips on becoming an EFL/ESL teacher…

5 Steps to Quitting your Job to become an EFL teacher
So after weeks – maybe months – of consideration, you’ve finally decided to escape the office to take advantage of EFL opportunities around the world. Because the first step can be daunting, here are 5 essential tips to quitting your job to become an EFL teacher.

· Do thorough research into teaching opportunities

Quitting your job with only a vague idea of all the countries you're going to travel to and places you're going to teach isn't recommended. It is paramount that you consider the options available to you based on your passport and qualification constraints.

Telling your boss to do his own pencil pushing because you're going to be earning top-dollar in South Korea, only to realize later that Korea requires a degree or Saudi Arabia requires teaching experience can quickly turn the best decision you've ever made into the worst. Do your homework and plan accordingly to ensure that you're not caught out.

· Get TEFL certified by a reputable, accredited TEFL organisation

On that note, a TEFL certificate, with some practical training is fast becoming a minimum requirement in language schools the world over. While there are many TEFL courses avaliable both online and in person, recuiters for the most coveted positions will give preference to people who have done the course in-class.

It’s important to keep this in mind when choosing your course. Unfortunately, the character of the EFL/ESL industry is such that it can easily be exploited. Hundreds of online companies and 'schools' will offer you TEFL courses and certifications claiming to be accredited, when in fact their accreditation is not worth anything.

The Knowledge Workshop offers tried and tested online and in-class TEFL courses, as well as a real-life practical training course that is a great supplement to any prior training. 

· Get some teaching experience

Once you’ve got your TEFL certificate, you might still have some time to kill before hopping on a plane. Use this time to try your hand at teaching in real life. You could do this in a number of ways. You could look into volunteer programmes in your general area; speak to TKW about their volunteer teaching programmes where teachers develop their skills whilst benefiting local students; you could approach language schools to look for part time work; or do some private tutoring. For more information about these opportunities, contact The Knowledge Workshop.

· Treat teaching like a job

In other words, take what you do seriously. Like any job and/or industry, stay abreast of the latest news, tools and developments. Read up on teaching philosophies, lesson ideas and classroom management strategies.

While being an EFL teacher will afford you many great opportunities to travel, socialise and (in most cases) make a good amount of money; EFL is not a Contiki Tour. It’s a job and should be appraoched as such. Being a good teacher that can really impact on students will be one of the most worthwhile reasons to embark on this new path – whether it be for a year, or longer.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Changing Lives...

‘Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world’ 
Nelson Mandela

This story takes us into the heart of the Philippi Township, to the Lutheran Community centre, iThemba Labantu, which translates to ‘Hope for the People’. Here, 12 young men and women are working as facilitators leading an after-care programme with pre-schoolers. Their primary function is to play with the little ones, to teach them some life skills, but mainly just to speak to them - in English! This is a lot harder than it sounds, especially when your mother-tongue is not English.
So, to begin at the beginning…

Mduduzi and Jehaan, with students

Just a few weeks ago, I received an email from a young, German volunteer who was looking for a way to bring free, quality education to the Philippi community, one of Cape Town’s poorest townships. He began with an internet search that led him to The Knowledge Workshop. Our previous community initiatives in the Langa and Mfuleni townships gave him hope that perhaps his vision was indeed possible.  Dominik told me about iThemba Labantu, about their mission to improve the social and economic conditions of this largely impoverished community, by offering free access to education, nutrition and health care. Dominik also told me about the 12 facilitators who were giving back to the community from which they came, and their need to improve their English communication skills. I was humbled by the selflessness of the individuals who fueled this mission, and was eager to get involved. TKW, through its teacher-training programme has trained literally hundreds of teachers over the years. To gain experience, these teachers, on completion of their theory training, volunteer their time in a classroom. Out of this comes an obvious win-win for all – our teachers hone their skills, students improve their English, and lives are changed for the better, forever!

Jarryd and Amourelle, lead a role play
The story so far…

We began our work at Ithemba Labantu last week, with the help of four conscientious, young volunteers, our most recent TEFL/TESOL graduates. The volunteers were amazing and the 12 young facilitators who stood to benefit, were fully present and engaged. There is no substitute for passion, enthusiasm and a desire to do more and be better. This was evident on both sides, from the teachers and the willing and enthused learners. Our communicative and fun approach to teaching and learning, brought laughter and excitement to the classroom, enough to motivate the students to come back for more! Today, 8 hours and 4 days later, the future of the project at iThemba Labantu looks destined to continue for some time. Change is on the horizon for the young facilitators at iThemba Labantu and the catalyst for that change is education.

Amourelle, leads activity
Jehaan leading class
 In the next few weeks we will update you on the progress of the students and teachers at iThemba Labantu.  If you would like to get involved or become a volunteer, it is as easy as sending us an email or contacting us through our website.

Students at iThmeba Labantu

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