The past couple of weeks have been pretty hectic, as I spent my time taking my TEFL certificate training with my company. For those who don’t know (I certainly didn’t until I arrived in Shanghai), TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and taking the certification course means that I’ll be officially licensed as a ESL teacher. While usually a pretty costly course, EF (my company) covered it for me, for which I’m grateful. It’s a great opportunity to leave this journey with something tactile like a certification which might open doors for me in the future.
As a side note, I want to also take the HSK 1, which is the first level of the official Chinese Language exam, designed to assess the test taker’s aptitude with everyday Mandarin. I feel that if I make the decision to leave in a year with these two certifications, I’ll have used my time here very wisely.
During the week, I didn’t have many opportunities to go out, but I was able to make the trip out to a hot sauce store right before the course started, and purchased a ghost pepper BBQ sauce, which was extremely hot and delicious (I absolutely love spicy food). I went to Wing Wednesday at a popular foreigner bar called The Shed and was able to try the sauce with some wings, but definitely suffered the next day.
Back to the TEFL. Me, my arrival group, and the group before me were all required to take the course for our certificate, which is evidently a new requirement for teachers in China. It was a seven-day course that lasted from 9am-5pm in a classroom at EF’s customer care center in Pudong (a business district in Shanghai-basically the area around the Bund). I’m unsure of how much I’m able to say about the course contents itself, so to keep myself out of hot water, I’ll just say that it was a very long course with lectures throughout the day, designed to make us better and more knowledgeable teachers. While I feel that it was kind of wasted time, seeing as how we had all been actually teaching for around a month or two, I did learn more about the reasons why we do some things in the classroom. I’ll admit that while I would’ve rather been teaching, I did get some useful insights and learned a bit from the lecturers.
We ended the course with a demo class (which had me teaching my peers), and then the actual test, which was relatively difficult, although I never was the strongest student. I reckon that if I spent a couple more hours studying instead of playing games I would’ve aced the test. But old habits die hard, and I did only need around 70% to pass the course.
After we finished TEFL, we all celebrated pretty hard (as young 20 somethings are won’t to do), and I spent Thursday lying in bed and ordering takeout.
Today, I went to a seminar held by EF at their HQ in Jing’An Temple district, and learned more about Communicative Grammar Activities, which was basically a session dedicated to expanding my activity bank to use with my young learners. I found it extremely useful, and I’ll probably go to more seminars in the future (they hold them monthly).
Looking forward, I have my 6 week evaluation on Sunday, and my TKT exam next Friday. The TKT stands for the Teacher Knowledge Test, and all teachers take them periodically. I personally am looking forward to getting back into my work routine right before the Mid-Autumn Festival, and get back on track with my classes, my Mandarin studies, and maybe fit in some piano if I have the time.
I expect to post a short update right before the week break, then it’s off to Beijing for a couple days!