La Clase – The Class

I have not talked about my actual school and the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification course, so here it is. It’s glamour-free (especially after the Santa Catalina post) and long but it is an accurate account of a big part of my daily life.

The school, Extreme Learning Center, actually offers English classes for Peruvians – the TEFL course is the odd class out. Majority of the students are high school and university age, though the school offers classes beginning from kindergarten age. The classes are not cheap, which means 3 things for the student demographic:

1.) Their parents made them take the class.

2.) They genuinely want to learn English.

3.) They need to earn English credits for their university class.

#1 is the most prevalent in Saturday kids’ classes.

The certification course is 4 weeks long and the certification is good for any country. The program provided housing for the duration of the program.

For reasons unknown I had underestimated the course workload. Reading the syllabus was an eye-opener, a.k.a. WHAT

The general course components are as follows:

Pedagogy: Theories and methods for teaching. Usually interesting and fairly easy. Everyday from 9-12pm.

Grammar: More complicated as we discuss technical aspects of grammar. Everyday from 1-3pm.

Presentations: Four required presentations to demonstrate our understanding of materials, practice teaching, and become comfortable with public speaking.

Class Observations: Required to observe one kids’ class and four regular classes and complete an observation form.

Student Teaching: Most stressful part of the course. Required to plan for and teach one kids’ class (with a partner, 2.5 hours) and three regular English classes (solo teaching, 2 hours each class) under observation of two teachers.

2 Papers: Papers on grammatical concepts and theories of student motivation.

Daily Reflection Journals, Observation Journal, and Student Teaching Journal

Final Pedagogy and Grammar Exams

As I write, we are finishing up pedagogy, grammar, presentations, and observations to gear up for student teaching.

Courtyard where I like to read

The class has six students:

Jason and Lilian: Married with a son. Met in Champion, PA and worked at a resort. Came back to Arequipa in November.

Emily: My roommate from Canton, OH. Plans to move to Costa Rica.

Alain: From Puno and plans to go back to Puno.

Nataly: Student at local university studying management (Human Resources).

John (not pictured): Instructor, originally from Long Beach, CA. Special dude.

Jason, Lilian, Emily, Alain, Nataly

It is a good class – Alain and Nataly joined us a day or so later. My roommate and I were initially disappointed that there were no Peruvian students but that was quickly alleviated. We have become like family since we spend so much time together. Truth be told I feel as though I am not as close to Nataly and Alain as I would like to be. It is difficult to explain and it may need to be elaborated in a separate post.

We all share the same fears and worries about the course and that is comforting.

We get an hour for lunch. In the beginning we all went out to eat together but I realized it drains my energy sometimes so I started eating by myself from time to time. The school also offers free coffee (or hot water that tastes like coffee) and tea, which is nice.

Searching for lunch

I am enjoying the class. John, the instructor, is an engaging guy with a dry wit. We are lucky we have him as the teacher can make or kill a class.

I also could not believe how I could become a teacher within three weeks, but now I understand. This is an intensive course that will thoroughly prepare you for the unknown world of teaching ahead.

However.

At the end of the day the program must make money. This means that the student will get their certification even if they are not suited for teaching or commit shady academic practices such as plagiarizing. John was visibly aghast as was other students. It greatly bothers me, too, but what can I do besides do my best?

I also see two llamas on my walk to school every morning. It is one of the highlights of my day…though it worries me that they are on such a short chain and do not have much freedom.

There are small nuances and such that I did not discuss here. Some of those nuances are good, others not so much. I am still torn if I should write about them some time.

But if someone asked me if they should take the course, I would say yes. It would help if they love public speaking and writing papers.

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