Diary submitted by Eve P.
Completing a specialist TEFL course in a topic that is not covered in a standard TEFL course is a good way to equip yourself with extra expertise and training, thus making yourself more attractive to perspective employers. Not only would the extra qualification make your application stand out, but it could help you specialise in teaching areas that are of more interest to you. For example, if you prefer working with children, a course for teaching young learners could be very beneficial.
There is no debate that the style of teaching must be adapted depending on the age of the student. From my internship I have experienced how teaching younger people can be based more in behaviour management and learner engagement, whereas older learners tend to be more motivated and ready to learn. In a specialist TEFL course for teaching children you would learn about the theory of child language acquisition and learn how to apply this knowledge to your lessons. This may include more talk-based learning than you would use in an older learner’s class. Through studying classroom management, you would be more equipped to deal with behaviour control, and with a better understanding of your group of learners, you can plan more useful activities in class.
Teaching teenagers has at times been a challenge, they can often be the least motivated and therefore most problematic learning age group. I’ve found that it is very important to make the learning accessible and to generate interest with a teenage student, through a specialist teaching teenagers TEFL course you would cover planning for motivating and affective lessons that keep the student interested and engaged. You would also study the physical, social and cognitive aspects of teenagers which would prove useful for understanding how to achieve the balance been being a friend and an authority figure. I’ve learnt that this is a crucial relationship for success in teaching teenagers as being too authoritative will make them feel as though they are in school, and therefore possibly patronised and less interested. Being too relaxed and friendly may lead to the student becoming lazy or complacent, therefore finding the balance is necessary.
To conclude, I think that age-specific specialised TEFL courses can be very beneficial in order to understand your learners. It is vital to adapt your teaching style to the needs of your class, and through studying these specific needs you will not only improve as an effective teacher, but stand out from the rest when applying for work in TEFL.
Reference: LoveTEFL, Specialist TEFL Courses, Available at: https://www.i-to-i.com/tefl-courses/specialist-certificates/