When I signed up to take an upper-level online English Literature course (during the summer months), I had no idea what to expect and I was instantly shocked when I was 3 weeks in and everything felt utterly out of control!
I speak from experience about online learning. It’s so different from classroom learning! I don’t say this in a negative way at all, it’s actually a really neat and self-sufficient way of learning. As the years progress, I believe our world is going to turn to online learning more and more. It makes education a whole lot more accessible to so many people around the world. It is only through this that many aspiring TEFL teachers become successful, experience TEFL teachers. In my opinion, I think it’s an amazing innovation in our world and I’m happy to be a part of it.
So let’s dig in! What are some things you should know before signing up for an online course? For our purposes, we stick to talking about doing an online TEFL course in this article. …And there are quite a few tips of the trade, actually!
Here they are…
1. Mentally prepare yourself: By this, I mean that you should sit down and meditate a little on the journey you are about to embark on. Let’s say your course starts in a week. During the week before, understand that you paid for this course, that you are eager to learn and that you will do the work necessary in order to get the full experience and maximize the education you are being taught. I have found that by doing this, it sets the scene for the entirety of my course.
Furthermore, if you feel stuck at a certain point during your online learning experience, do this again! Take a step back, sit in a quiet place and remind yourself exactly why you are doing this. Are you dreaming of teaching in Thailand? Opening your own school in Ghana? Traveling to a new place each year? Bring yourself back to your goal and you’ll find the motivation you need to keep on going…
2. Read through the syllabus of your course: Even if you dont have an exact “syllabus” per se, it’s always a good idea to glance through all aspects of your course before actually starting it. Become familiar with your deadlines. Understand what you will be learning each week. By doing this, you’ll be prepared for what’s coming your way.
3. Make a schedule and stick to it: I think this is probably the most difficult part of taking an online course. You don’t have anybody telling you exactly what you need to do and when. Yes, you will have deadlines of sorts and maybe a live webinar here and there, but there will hardly ever be a time and place that you must be somewhere. That’s the beauty and the beast of the online learning process.
Some people are natural procrastinators, and its usually these people who find themselves falling into what seems like a deep, deep pit. Before long, you’ve gone so long without doing anything that it may seem like there’s no way you’ll ever complete your course. However, there is a way to prevent this from happening and it’s simple. Here’s your solution….
Make a schedule and stick to it! That’s all. If you make an outlined schedule at the start of your course, and you actually stick to it, your life (at least this part of it) will remain stress-free for the duration of your online learning process. This is key to online learning.
4. Have a steady, strong Internet connection: Obviously, in order to take an online course, it’s crucial to have internet. There are still many places in the world where a stable internet connection is not so easy to find. And on the contrary, there are a ton of places where you can get a good connection without any avail. I admit that sometimes its easy to take this for granted when you’re used to getting it so easily, but if you’re traveling around, you’ll soon realize it’s not something to take for granted. So before signing up for a course, just make sure you’ll have a good connection!
5. Stay organized: This is just as important as making a schedule and staying on track. In fact, they go hand in hand. Think about it: it’ll be fairly easy to keep organized when you follow your schedule and keep track of what you are completing before getting to the next task. However, imagine what it will feel like when you haven’t done any of the work in, let’s say, 2-3 weeks. How organized do you feel now?! I would feel the exact opposite of organized! So, try not to get to that point.
Another aspect of staying organized is to keep all of your work neat and orderly. By this, I mean clearly labeling all documents, putting them in specified folders according to what’s what and deleting things that will no longer serve you in the online learning process. By doing this, your brain will thank you!
6. Try to remain calm: This tip will be easy if you listen to the other 5 tips listed! By setting the tone of your class before it commences, talking with your instructor, making and sticking to a schedule, making sure you have a stable internet connection and staying organized, there will be no space to become frantic and stressed! Rather, everything will be in place and you will be able to stay calm.
Keeping calm is important because it allows you to absorb more of what you’re being taught. When your mind is in “fight or flight” mode, meaning you feel anxious and antsy, you aren’t able to learn as well. And if in fact, you do feel a little stressed at some point during your course, take a step back, go for a walk outside or meditate for 5 minutes focusing on your breath. Re-setting will help you come back to the place you need to be. By the end of your course, you’ll feel accomplished and you’ll be a pro in TEFL teaching!
I really think online learning is such a cool thing that we are able to be a part of. Take advantage of this awesome innovation! If you’ve been teetering on starting a TEFL certification course, or any other course for that matter, I urge you to do so! Take a leap…it will be worth it.
If you have any thoughts on online learning or anything I’ve shared today, feel free to be a part of the conversation and comment below.