Signing up for an online course can feel a little daunting if you’ve never studied online or it’s been a while since you studied at all!
One of the great things about our online TEFL courses is that they’re self-paced, meaning you’re in control of your learning. It’s up to you how you structure your time and when you work on the course, but sometimes having more freedom can make it harder to sit down and get it all done! That’s why we’ve put together 10 top tips to help you complete your TEFL course online.
1. Set a completion goal
Depending on the course you’ve signed up to, you will have a set time to complete it by, or you may need to have it completed by a certain date to be able to apply for a particular role/job opportunity. Ask yourself when do you want to finish your TEFL course? Once you’ve established this you can then create a manageable schedule to help you meet this goal.
You want to avoid a situation where your course is due to expire so you try to speed through as much as you can. If you need more time there’s always the option to extend the course, but with careful planning and some help with motivation you should easily be able to complete your course within the set timeframe. So, keep on reading!
2. Create a study schedule
You might think that you’ll just fit in studying when you have free time, but this approach is unlikely to work for most. Without a schedule it’s easy to keep putting it off, and next thing you know months have gone by and you’ve made little progress.
Putting together a schedule and making the time to work through the course will help keep you on track. How you devise this schedule depends on what might work best for you. That could be half an hour every evening, an afternoon a week, or even a full day dedicated to studying.
You’ll get more out of your course with regular study. A schedule will help you to carve out time each week and avoid lengthy periods where you don’t log into the course – or cramming it all in at the end!
3. Set up your study space
Having a dedicated workspace can help put you in the zone for studying. Not everyone has the space for a desk, so make use of a kitchen table or get a laptop stand for the sofa. Whether it’s permanent or temporary, having a space you can set up to help put you in work-mode can do wonders for motivation.
4. Take regular breaks
You may have a deadline to work to but remember to take regular breaks. Your concentration levels can start to wane after a while. Taking a break gives you the chance to rest and recharge. Get up from your desk, stretch your legs, neck, back, etc., and give your eyes a rest from staring at a screen.
It can take a while to understand new concepts, which can lead to feelings of frustration. This is normal, so don’t worry. Part of being an effective learner is knowing when to take time to have a break and reflect on what you have learned
Grammar in particular can take a while to be absorbed, so don’t feel frustrated if something doesn’t immediately click. It puts you in the shoes of an English language learner and helps you to understand what they might struggle with. See our tips for improving grammar for more.
5. Take time to read what is being asked of you
Take the time to read and understand exactly what is being asked of you. Most assignments in the course have quite short word limits. The reason for this is that as an EFL teacher you need to be able to explain concepts clearly and succinctly – long-winded explanations of vocabulary or grammar points would be confusing to learners. This is your challenge as a TEFL teacher.
It’s quite easy to check ahead to see what the assignments are when you first start the course and panic. But don’t! By the time that you come to the assignment, you will have covered what you need to complete it. Your tutor will be aware of what you have covered on the course up to that point. Some concepts that are dealt with later on in the course may come in handy, or you have some previous knowledge, which is great, but it’s important to remember what is being assessed in each particular assignment. So, just complete the task at hand, and don’t try to jump ahead.
6. Reduce distractions
Distractions can be aplenty when we’re at home. But one of the biggest distractions for many of us is our phones and the social media apps designed to guzzle up our precious time. If you’re studying on a laptop or computer consider leaving your phone in another room or installing an app to help keep you focused on the task at hand. Forest is handy little app that discourages you from mindless scrolling. You plant a tree, which will grow while you study, but if you close the app to do something else the tree will die. The more productive you are the bigger your forest will grow (which can be surprisingly motivating!).
And there are plenty of productivity extensions you can add to your internet browser as well – see this list of 15 top extensions.
7. Understand how you learn best
We don’t all learn in the same way. Methods that might work for someone else can be frustrating if it’s not right for you and leave you feeling as though you’re not smart enough when that isn’t the case.
One of the most popular models of learning styles is the VARK model, which stands for: Visual, Auditory, Reading/writing, and Kinesthetic. Most people will have a dominant learning style, although a combination of several is a common approach for many. We’ve developed our online courses to be as engaging as possible, with plenty of videos and quizzes throughout the course to avoid things being dry!
You likely have some sense of what type of learner you are but it can be helpful to do a bit of research and find studying techniques that match your style. Not only is this beneficial for your own approach to studying, but gaining an understanding of different learning styles will help you when you come to work with students!
8. Make use of tutor support
Your online tutor is there to support you through your online studies. If you’re not sure how to tackle an assignment, or just need clarification about what is being asked of you they are just an email away. They have a wealth of experience teaching EFL and also training teachers, so they’ve come across everything you could think of. Get to know them here.
They may provide extra resources to assist you with your learning and they’ll also be providing feedback for all your written assignments too.
9. Connect with other students
You might be taking an online course but you’re definitely not alone! There is a whole student community waiting for you online. You can find encouragement and support from other students and course graduates over on our Facebook group.
Learning is a very personal experience so try not to compare yourself to other students – we all have our own experiences that we can build on and we work at a pace that’s right for us. You may have previous experience with some of the topics covered – these might be easier for you and take less time to complete than it would someone else. Or you might find one area particularly challenging and need to spend more time getting to grips with it than someone else.
10. And last of all, enjoy it!
Learning something new and working towards a qualification that can open doors worldwide is exciting! Remember your goals and try to enjoy the process. Get comfortable, make a cup of tea, and put on a playlist to help you concentrate. You can do this!
So, there you have it – our tips for completing your online TEFL course. Do you have any study tips you’d like to share with others? Share them in the comments section below.