The Oxford TEFL Blog

Guest blog: My experiences on the DipTESOL

My name is Heather Humphreys, I’m 30 years old and currently living in the wonderful city of Almaty in Kazakhstan.

I took the Diploma course at OH from February until November 2016, with the face-to-face teaching practice in Barcelona during the summer. Before that I had been teaching for five years in Japan, the UK, China, Poland, Kazakhstan and Indonesia. My career since I took my initial qualification had been pretty varied but I was keen to strengthen my theoretical knowledge and to get a better understanding of all areas of EFL teaching and learning, particularly because I have always been a passionate trainer of other teachers.

The course was long, pretty intensive and mad but an overwhelmingly positive experience! The tutors were supportive and really knowledgeable and the amount of knowledge you gain in such a short time thanks to all the reading and assignments is amazing!

It was my first time studying online and I was a bit daunted before the course began if I’m honest. As it turned out, it’s really interesting and thought-provoking to do all the reading and discussion about every topic alongside other experienced teachers in completely different contexts. The moodle platform online allows for a lot of exchange of ideas, everything is there and accessible in one place and you can also fit the work each week around your own schedule. It was wonderful to meet some of the people I’d studied online for 6 months with and do the face-to-face part together during the summer in Barcelona.There is also a nice balance when studying online for a course of this level – a lot of extra, optional reading was suggested for those interested in specific topics and tutor support and input was always provided but we always had a lot for space for independent research and conversations with other course participants, too.

The best thing about the Diploma is the way it really had an impact on my current work where I observe and train other teachers. A lot of the skills and knowledge I gained helped me with this, as well as having an impact on my own teaching.I have become a lot more reflective as a result of the course and also better able to analyse teaching materials and classroom activities critically to ensure that they really benefit my students.

I became a Senior Teacher here in Kazakhstan almost a year ago, having decided to come back to a school where I previously worked as a teacher. The most challenging but enjoyable thing about my current job is that there’s no such thing for me as a typical day!! I only have three groups and the rest of my time is spent on assessing and examining, managing and supporting teachers, teacher training, observations and feedback….and a whole host of other tasks depending on the day and time of the academic year! During the course became really interested in two areas I knew little about before – testing/assessment and receptive skills teaching. The course made me question a lot of the “orthodoxies” of the EFL profession in these areas and change the way I approach my lessons. I hope in the future it will help me improve testing and skills teaching in other contexts where I work.

Students here are motivated and enthusiastic – some of the most fun and rewarding learners I’ve ever taught. I’m lucky to also work in a school with wonderful colleagues who have a lot of experience and knowledge and really work hard to benefit our students. Almaty is also a great city to be based in, a real meeting place of cultures, mentalities and people. The mountain backdrop (and the food!) is pretty good, too!

I would thoroughly recommend the Diploma course to anyone interested in taking the next step in their career or looking at all aspects of what good teaching means in a bit more depth. I’m now hoping to become more involved in teacher training on formal courses, something I couldn’t do before I had the Dip. The course also created a lot of new areas of interest for me and I aim to keep researching these, writing articles about them for journals and leading workshops on them here as well. The course pretty much covers every major area of ELT and this is its greatest strength – whether you are interested in methodologies, young learners, phonology, language analysis, professional development, learner autonomy or anything else, you can really go into these areas in a lot of depth.

For those starting out on the Dip (or Cert course, for that matter) – be open to feedback, ready to take in and process a lot of new information and just take each day of the course one at a time. That’s the best advice I can possibly give!!

If you are interested in the DipTESOL you can read more about the course or contact us below.

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