Chalkboard is i-to-i's TEFL community.
It is currently still in testing phase which could mean you find the odd bug!
Q: What is i-to-i Chalkboard? A: It's the online community of TEFL specialists
When you do an i-to-i online TEFL course, it’s not just you and your computer – there’s a whole host of tutors all around the world, ready and waiting to mark your work and help you out if you get stuck. But who are these mysterious tutors, and what will they do for you? We caught up with Thomas Kerr and Vera Fernandes, who between them have marked thousands of tutees' work, to find out…
So, before we get started – a little about you – where are you from?
Vera: I was born in Malawi, and have lived in Mozambique, Portugal, and for the most part, in England.
Thomas: I’m from Paisley in Scotland.
And what attracted you to the wonderful world of TEFL?
Thomas: Adventure! I was stuck in a 9 to 5 job in London and wanted to escape, meet new people and travel.
Vera: As I went to international schools abroad, I was always mixing with students whose mother tongue was not English, so I found myself naturally falling into the role of helping them with their English. It was something that I enjoyed doing so after my degree, I decided that I would pursue a career in TEFL.
Vera and Thomas
I take it you’ve both taught abroad – where?
Vera: Portugal, England, Italy, Spain, Ecuador, South Africa, Thailand, Vietnam and Syria. The bulk of my time though was in England, mainly Cambridge and Bristol.
Thomas: In Denmark, Germany, France, Malaysia and Spain.
And what did you like most about it?
Vera: I enjoy the cultures and the diversity, not to mention the cuisine! Teaching abroad is a great way to get to know the locals – you are treated with respect, you’re not just another traveler to them, and you are often invited into their homes and into their lives.
Thomas: While I teach I am learning about new cultures, new ways and how people are so different. When I am working and living abroad, it feels like I am on holiday all the time, even though I work incredibly hard!
Full-time holiday, huh? Sounds pretty sweet! So how does the online TEFL course work and what help do you give tutees?
Thomas: We try to give tutees as much support as possible and provide useful and constructive feedback. I try to focus not only on the task at hand but to provide feedback that will help tutees for when they are teaching after the course as well. At the same time we try to encourage tutees so they feel there is a real person supporting them, and they are not alone.
Vera: The whole course is geared towards what a tutee would do in the classroom, and all this is underpinned by sound methodology and good teaching practice. The support that the tutors give the tutees is to constantly steer them towards sound teaching practice, giving reasons for this along the way so that the tutees see the sense in the directed methods.
Thomas: Yeah, I have heard this though I know many people who teach after doing only the online course and were fine. They felt the course gave them a good base. Though I think the online course is even better when done alongside the 20 hour classroom course. Most tutees I know who done both together said they went hand in hand, and were excellent compliments.
Vera: The real ‘proof of the pudding’, is definitely in the classroom, and this is something that online courses cannot provide – yet! However, courses that are not online only provide a number of hours of live teaching (usually 6 hours), after which, the trainee is also on their own. So whether you do an online course or attend a live course, the bulk of your development will be in the classroom after you complete your course.
What do you think are the benefits of doing your course online?
Thomas: There are many, for instance: Independence, so people can do them when they are working full time and have a family to take care of. You can switch on 24/7 and work when you want. You can also do the course wherever you like. I know tutees who do the course on the beach!
Vera: You can work at your own pace and time and in your own country. Also, there are no travel costs!
How does it make you feel to know that you’ve helped someone realize their dream of teaching abroad?
Thomas: It's invigorating. I still get emails from tutees I taught years ago. I had one the other day from an ex-tutee who is now teaching in Thailand. He said that when he is teaching and looking around him at the smiling faces of the children, he can't believe he's really there. It's like a dream and it's the happiest moment of his life. He thanked me for helping him fulfill his dream, and it just makes me feel so happy and want to keep on teaching TEFL.
Vera: Sending trainees on their way into the world of TEFL is definitely one of the rewards as a teacher trainer. This is an exciting world with vast opportunities, and so I would say that it gives me a very strong sense of satisfaction.
And finally have you had any bizarre or ridiculous answers to questions on the course?
Thomas: I did have one tutee who was part of a British ex-pat medieval battle group. She wasn't British and wanted to base her plan on Medieval war cries! As I didn't know too many I had to ask her to focus on one of the course choices. She chose hobbies instead! Though I suppose she did focus on a hobby before!
Vera: A question on one of the modules was asked: “How would you….?”
The tutee answered: “You can figure it out yourself!”
Thanks guys. Well, if you think you’re cut out for the world of TEFL, your first step is doing a TEFL course – check out the courses i-to-i offer and get started on your TEFL adventure today by clicking here!