Melinda Beer - 2015 Program Participant
Tiananamen Square, Beijing, China
Why did you decide to apply for an international program?
I decided to apply for an international program as I am living in China with my husband and one of our sons (we have four other boys studying in Australia and the U.S.). Prior to moving to China, I worked full time, and when we came here for my husband's work I really needed something to do here to fill in time. However, I wanted to also study for a purpose.
I have immense joy when I can help others, and after researching the volunteer work I could do here in China, decided to study to teach English to learners of a foreign language online. There is a high need for additional language support for Chinese nationals. Whilst English is mandatory when they study, they do not have many opportunities to actually use what they are taught.
Why did you choose International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)?
I chose the International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) course online as it provided me with an online tutor and videos to assist with my learning, providing me with the support I required. This type of course was the only one I knew available, and I registered within a few months after arriving in China. The online version allowed me the ultimate flexibility, to be able to study and work at my own pace.
What was your favorite part about studying online?
Studying online provided me with the flexibility to study wherever I could, whenever I could. The weather here in Northern China can be quite extreme and driving around can take quite sometime, therefore to be able to study in the comfort of my own home (or in the car - we have a driver!) was great and allowed me to remain flexible.
Terracotta Warriors in Xian, China - Photo Courtesy of Melinda Beer
What makes ITTT unique?
The program I participated in was unique because there was reading material, however, with nearly every unit, there was an associated video to watch too. The video provided me with evidence and factual use of the course content (i.e. how to put what I was learning into practice), or showed scenarios of both good and bad teaching, as an example.
How did your ITTT tutor support you throughout your training?
The online tutor responded timely, efficiently, and effectively. Tania was the name of my ITTT tutor, and she was wonderful. Tania provided me with support throughout the duration of my study time. Initially, I didn't email Tania often, however, as the course went along, I found I needed to "double check" answers making sure I was absorbing my learning adequately. Everything was done online and I feel that this structure is absolutely necessary to keep up with the fast pace of our modern society.
What do you wish you would have done differently?
There are a few things I wish I would have done differently. Firstly, enroll sooner. Secondly, use Tania my online tutor more often. The course has been established for quite sometime, and I believe they really know how to support their students. They are teachers themselves and have the empathy for their students. Good teachers create good students, ensuring they have a thirst for knowledge, and this in turn is passed onto the student-teachers themselves!
Harbin Frozen River in January 2015 - minus 35 degrees in winter but lots of fun activities on the river! - Photo Courtesy of Melinda Beer
What was a typical day of online coursework like for you?
As my program was online, the flexibility allowed me to undertake my other day to day activities, such as going to the gym, meeting with friends, shopping, traveling to our closest larger city, Beijing, which is a two hour drive away! When I was studying, I usually studied one to two units per week. This allowed me to be able to read and reread the course material, absorb it, then sit the online test. Once the test was completed, you need to maintain at least 75 percent average, you would then move onto the next unit. In the course I chose, there were 20 units with a final graded “lesson plan” assignment at the end.
What was your favorite part about earning your teaching certificate, outside of the online coursework?
My favourite activity outside my program was actually putting what I was learning into real life. I was asked to assist a major Western hotel with the teaching of English to their non English speaking staff. Being provided with a basic syllabus from the Western hotel gave me the platform on which to build out the actual lesson plan week to week.
Watching the staff move through each unit was fulfilling for me, and we had a lot of fun along the way. My highlight was teaching the staff to sing "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." I am also teaching some remedial grade six students at my son’s international school. These kids are at an intermediate level, however keeping them engaged for the two hour lesson is difficult at times.
The learning I did with ITTT provides me with the knowledge on how to keep students, particularly children, engaged.
When the children are “flagging,” we usually have a scheduled fun activity to do that is related to the overall lesson plan.
There are many section of the Great Wall of China, this is the Huangya Pass (Huangyaguan Changcheng). - Photo Courtesy of Melinda Beer
How has participating in ITTT impacted your life?
My International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) has impacted my life immensely. I have met some amazing and wonderful people whilst teaching; some of whom I catch up with regularly and are part of our international family here in China. Learning how to teach students English whilst their native language is something other than English is challenging, yet extremely rewarding. To be able to teach with confidence and a proven structure provides me with the knowledge that I can actually make a difference.
Learning and understanding another culture has many challenges, and living in a city where 99.9 percent of the residents do not speak English, on top of being here without your family and friends, is extremely challenging. However, it is the people you meet along the way that provide you with the filling of your “void” in so many other ways. China is so rich in history, culture, and beliefs, we are blessed to be here.
Keeping busy is one thing I really needed to do, and therefore studying my TEFL certificate with ITTT provided me with so much insight in how I can be effective, efficient, and help others through volunteering my time to teach them English in a structured way. If anyone has an opportunity to volunteer, work, and live in another country, my recommendation is "dive in". Whether it is for a few months or years, this is something that I wish I had the opportunity to do so many years ago!