Recently I attended a teaching conference in Changwon, South Korea. The conference was for public school teachers and offered workshops in classroom management, and navigating cultural differences. I left the conference with a lot of great ideas—some of which I was able to immediately use in class.

In order to get a job the region of Korea I work in you have to have a TEFL certificate. During the conference a few other teachers and I talked about our TEFL certification. Those who got certified online often said they didn’t feel like they had learned anything. This is the exact opposite of my experience. I felt like I learned so much during my TEFL, like how to generate good concept check questions and how to teach lesson when you don’t share any language with your students.

One of my favourite things about conferences is getting to meet with other teachers and talk about pedagogy. This is the main reason I would advise against doing your TEFL online—you miss out on interacting and learning alongside your classmates.

A lake I went to in Jinju recently.

Additionally, doing my TEFL in person meant I got to teach actual students. This was incredibly valuable because when I first got to Korea I started teaching almost immediately. I observed classes for two days and then I was on my own. This was great because I learned a lot and got a lot of hands-on experience, but it was also difficult because I made a lot of rookie mistakes (for a long time)!
During my time in Prague I made great friends. The TEFL Worldwide program attracts people who are serious about being teachers, so I found it easy to get along with everyone. Last year, I visited Osaka and one of the friends I made in the program was teaching in Japan and came and met me there! Before teaching abroad it’s nice to feel like you have a net-work all around the world. Taking a TEFL course in person means you know a bunch of people who are all headed off to different locations (which is great if you want to visit them wherever they end up)!

The view from a Ferris wheel in Osaka.

Jellyfish in the Osaka aquarium.

A cute painting from the hostel I stayed at in Osaka.

Lastly, getting feedback from trained-teachers really helped me gain confidence in my own teaching. It also helped me to feel like one bad lesson wasn’t the end of the world. When I started my teaching job I didn’t get any feedback because I was the only teacher in the room. This is both a blessing and a curse. I didn’t feel judged by anyone, but I also felt a little lost. I had brought my notes from my TEFL and referred to them often in that time. Additionally, I read Doug Lemov’s book Teach Like a Champion (please ignore the cheesy title—it’s filled with great ideas)!