FUTURITY: Teachers on the move

If you are an active LinkedIn user involved in ELT, you have most likely come across Silvina Mascitti’s posts. Since the beginning of the year, this experienced English teacher has been sharing amazing lesson plans on her website EFL Creative Ideas, which I highly recommend visiting. When Silvina approached me with a few questions for an article on teachers living abroad, I was very happy to share my story. You can find her text in the following magazine:

FUTURITY: Teachers on the move

As we know, people involved in ELT love all kinds of abbreviations, so let me briefly explain what this is about. IATEFL stands for International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, which is a prominent organisation involved in various activities, including hosting a huge international conference. SIG refers to a special interest group that focuses on a specific area. You can find a list of 16 SIGs associated with IATEFL here.

FUTURITY is an e-zine published by Global Issues SIG. Silvina Mascitti’s article titled Teachers on the move appears in the latest issue (#3) of the magazine. If you aren’t a member of IATEFL GISIG, you can get access to it for a small donation on this page.

Teachers on the move features stories of several people who decided to teach English abroad. It was really nice to read about other teachers’ experiences with adapting to working in a new country. I was also happy to see that the TEFL in Colombia blog was mentioned in the article. If you wish to find out more about topics related to living in Colombia, you can read my posts on learning Spanish, travelling, and obtaining necessary documents.

Most of my recent blog posts have been on professional development, so let me tell you a little bit about what has been going on in Colombia. You may have noticed that you can now enter the country without proof of a negative PCR test, so basically anyone can travel to Colombia without any restrictions. That sounds like positive news, but the actual situation in the country isn’t that rosy.

Colombia was supposed to co-host this year’s edition of Copa América, but CONMEBOL decided to move the tournament to Brazil, which is a clear sign that something isn’t right. COVID-19 still isn’t under control and several regions of Colombia have been heavily affected in recent weeks. There have also been strong countrywide protests taking place for more than six weeks. I understand that many people are keen on moving to Colombia to teach English, but I’d recommend postponing those plans because relocating to a new country when the local environment isn’t very stable wouldn’t be without its risks.

The good news is that more and more people in Colombia are getting vaccinated, so there is hope that things will improve in the foreseeable future. In the meantime, I am still teaching online and spending most of my time at home. It isn’t the most interesting experience ever, especially when you are an avid traveller, but I prefer not to get frustrated by stuff that is outside of my control. I decided to focus on taking courses, reading books, and trying to develop as a teacher. Even though it doesn’t make for very exciting blog content, I hope to benefit from that in the future.

I believe that it’s important to stay positive and have something to aim for, and I’d like to end this post with a quotation from Silvina’s article:

Sometimes the beginning of the journey can be tough: language barriers, employment difficulties, bureaucratic obstacles and homesickness can make migrants doubt whether they took the right decision or not. It is true that reality can hit you hard in the face, but being patient and learning from good and bad experiences will make them stronger and resilient, as long as they firmly believe in what they are doing.

Cambridge Train the Trainer FAQ

If you are interested in professional development courses leading to certificates issued by Cambridge Assessment English, you may have come across the following framework of teaching qualifications. This image is a simplified version of a table that can be found in the Delta handbook for tutors and candidates:

Cambridge Train the Trainer FAQ

Even though Train the Trainer is an advanced qualification, there isn’t much information available on the most relevant website, so teachers on social media keep asking for more details. I have just finished this course with IH Lima, and I hope that those interested in obtaining this qualification will find my post helpful. Please note that this article is based on my personal experience and online research, which means that you should always double check everything with an authorised course provider.

Why is Train the Trainer placed slightly higher than Delta on the framework?
Good question. Train the Trainer is definitely not that demanding! I believe the main reason is the fact that Delta is supposed to make you a better teacher, but it doesn’t prepare you for being a trainer. I guess the idea behind this is that you should at first reach a certain level of development as a teacher before getting involved in training.

Do I need to have a Delta to take this course?
No. Having a Delta is an advantage, but the course provider may accept candidates with other qualifications. The course is aimed at experienced teachers interested in teacher training, and each application is evaluated individually. I am sure that having Delta Module One and Three certificates helped me compensate for my relative lack of experience and get accepted onto the course.

Do I need to have training experience?
Again, it’s desirable but not obligatory. I had delivered just a couple of workshops before taking the Train the Trainer course.

I have been training teachers for many years. Should I take the course?
There were some experienced teacher trainers on my course, and their comments were really positive. Many trainers receive very little support and have to figure out a lot of things by themselves, so they will benefit from receiving formal training.

What areas does the course deal with?
The Train the Trainer course comprises these six modules:

The training class focuses on the main differences between teaching students and training teachers.
Analysing and designing training sessions will show you how to plan a variety of input sessions.
Delivering training sessions is the most practical part of the course. You may be asked to plan and run a mock training session.
Observing teachers consists of watching a recorded lesson and analysing it as if you were the observer.
Managing feedback helps you identify various ways of giving oral and written feedback to teachers. You analyse a recorded feedback session as well.
Course planning and trainer development goes beyond standalone sessions and teaches you how to plan longer courses. You also receive advice on further professional development opportunities for trainers.

How long is the course?
Approximately 30 hours. There are even intensive week-long courses for those who can afford to take time off from work. I chose a course that lasted 8 weeks and consisted of 4-hour Zoom sessions every Sunday, so it didn’t interfere with my job.

What do I have to do to pass the course?
When it comes to the course delivered by IH Lima, you just have to attend all the sessions. Other providers might have other criteria, but there is no final exam and you don’t need to produce any written documents to be sent to Cambridge Assessment English.

How can I learn something from a course without formal assessment?
The course is structured in such a way that you can’t just sit back and listen to other people. In addition to your tutor’s input, there are many tasks you have to complete and plenty of interaction with other trainees. I enjoyed talking to experienced teacher trainers and I feel that I have learnt a lot from them.

Is the course standardised?
Other bloggers have taken the course with different providers, and it seems the course content was pretty much the same. I recommend reading Rachel Tsateri’s reflections and James Fuller’s series of eight blog posts with information about each session. My tutors used materials provided by Cambridge Assessment English, so I don’t think there will be huge differences between courses.

Do I have to work for the centre running the Train the Trainer course to be accepted as a trainee?
No. The course is open to external candidates as well. Most of my colleagues on the course were from Peru, but there were also participants accessing the Zoom meetings from Ecuador, Uruguay, Scotland, and Bangladesh. I was the only trainee based in Colombia.

How can I find a course provider?
I think Cambridge Assessment English could do a little bit more to promote the course. Unfortunately, you can’t find course providers using this otherwise helpful Find a teaching qualification centre search tool. Google doesn’t always help because there are other courses of the same name that aren’t related to teaching at all. What you have to do is look for training centres running Delta courses and check if they offer Train the Trainer as well. I have found the following providers:

South America: IH Lima, São Paulo Open Centre, Seven
Europe: ACE TEFL, Applied Language Studies House, CELT Athens
Asia: Apollo English, ATI Ankara, ICD Lahore, ITI Istanbul

This list is by no means complete. If you would like me to add other providers, please get in touch and I’ll update this post.

What can I do with the Train the Trainer certificate?
You become eligible to train teachers on the CELT-P and CELT-S courses.

Will this course help me become a CELTA trainer?
Not directly because you have to go through a separate training process for that. You can read this series of posts written by Anthony Gaughan for more information. That said, the knowledge gained on the Train the Trainer course definitely applies to CELTA trainers too, so I suppose having this qualification on your CV may increase your chances of becoming a CELTA trainer in the future.

Is taking this course online a good idea?
I don’t think that attending the Train the Trainer course through Zoom represents a major issue. Our tutors used this platform in an effective manner, and I really enjoyed the activities we were asked to do in breakout rooms.

However, it was quite disappointing to see that the materials weren’t adapted to the online environment at all. We simply received the handouts that are used on in-class courses as PDF files. Some trainees actually printed them out, which of course meant that they couldn’t share their notes on the screen. The handouts are full of useful information, but working with them wasn’t a user-friendly experience. I believe that the materials should have been shared as Word documents or made editable by using a tool such as PDFescape.

That was my only criticism of the course; I found the content very useful for my professional development, but I think that persisting with the PDF file format wasn’t a step in the right direction. I don’t know how exactly other course providers share the materials, so I recommend that you ask them about that during the application process.