Published 15th September 2019
Let’s take a moment and think back to your school days. We know they might be a long, long time ago (!) but bear with us for a moment. Think back to sitting at your desk, listening to your teacher, taking notes, studying, and writing exams. What was your favourite subject? Did you do well in exams? Were you a bookworm, or did you bunk class to smoke on the hockey fields? You may not think it, but these are all relevant points to think about when asking the question, are TEFL courses hard?
We’re all wired differently. Some of us loved school while others would’ve preferred to play cricket or watch TV all day. Some people have a head for numbers, while others are musical, and still others are at their best on the sports field. So while you may have sweated bullets before your History exams, your brother may have breezed through them without even a glance at a textbook.
What’s our point?
Yes, a TEFL course is hard, but harder for some than others. Whether or not you will find it hard will depend on a few things:
Am I too old or too young?
Your age may be a blessing or a curse. On the one hand if you are fresh out of school or university you will be no stranger to reading complicated texts and trying to make sense of course materials. If it has been twenty or so years since you were in a classroom, you might struggle with concentration and time management.
On the other hand, with age comes experience. More mature TEFL students can bring life experience and world knowledge with them into the TEFL classroom which may help them make sense of teaching English as a Foreign Language. They may have a better understanding of how to deal with students or how best they learn.
But I wasn’t good at school!
There’s no getting away from it: your abilities will play a part in your perceived level of difficulty of the TEFL course. If you are a natural academic, you shouldn’t have a problem with a TEFL course. A large part of the TEFL course is reading and getting to grips with theories and methodologies.
If you are an avid reader you will have no problem keeping up with the pace of the course. If you are not such a fan of reading, it might be a little more challenging. You might need to make more time than you expect to help you deal with the resources that are given to you to make sure you understand the text fully.
However, you could find that you are a natural in practice. In other words, you might be comfortable in front of a classroom right off the bat – which other people could find really nerve-wracking. You might have a natural talent for connecting with your students, explaining language clearly or handling classroom management. These are all important parts of the TEFL course so these abilities will no doubt be helpful to you on the course.
How do I find the time?
If you are a student on holiday, with minimal responsibilities, it’s likely that you’ll find the course relatively easy. This is because you have the time and the freedom to dedicate as much time as necessary to your course. If you are a working mom with only a few spare hours a week, the time pressure will add to your stress levels and make the course seem more challenging than it is.
I’m all alone!
Possibly the most important factor when doing any course of study is the support network you have. Because teaching English as a Foreign Language might be totally new to you, it will be helpful to surround yourself with people who can understand what you are going through.
Of course you need friends and family who understand that you are studying and need to give you the space to study or help out with errands to give you some spare time, but you also need to connect with other people who are doing the course with you.
If you are doing a face-to-face course, this will happen naturally but if you’re doing an online course you will need to make an effort to touch base with other students on the online forums available to you. It is important that you have an outlet to troubleshoot coursework problems with, as well as a community that you can ask for advice.
Whatever form your TEFL course takes, make sure you are aware of the different support systems available to you. Your tutors – whether they are in the classroom with you or online – are there to not only help you through the course but also to make sure you make the most of the course.
If you take all of this into account, you should be able to predict how difficult or easy a TEFL course is going to be for you. Are TEFL courses hard? well take it from us, even if all the odds are stacked against you, a TEFL course is totally within your reach, so don’t let your fears stand in your way of the adventure of a lifetime!