Using social media as an English teacher

I try to avoid posting personal stuff on social media. In fact, I have never opened an Instagram account and plan to keep it that way. I’m not a complete Luddite and understand that it’s important to be active online when you are a blogger, so I decided to write this post about my experience with using social networks for professional purposes, particularly in relation to TEFL in Colombia.

Using social media as an English teacher

ENGLISH TEACHERS IN COLOMBIA is the biggest group for teachers here in Colombia. The problem is that there are so many new posts every day, and most of aren’t really relevant. You can find some interesting job offers posted in the group, though. Actually, I got my first teaching position in Colombia thanks to this Facebook group. It’s worth searching it for information about employers and see what has been written about them.

If you receive an offer from a private language institute, you should definitely use the search function in Blacklist of Colombian Language Institutes and hope that there aren’t any results. The group isn’t updated that often, but you can read about negative experiences with some employers. It’s always a good idea to do your research to avoid finding yourself in an unpleasant situation.

When it comes to content that isn’t related to Colombia, I really like the DELTA & DipTESOL – Candidates & Survivors group because it contains a lot of helpful information for teachers interested in obtaining advanced qualifications. I also joined TEFL Equity Advocates & Academy Group, which is dedicated to dealing with native speakerism.

My blog’s Facebook page is followed mainly by my friends. I haven’t really tried to attract strangers to it because I only post links to new posts there. I know that I could get more visitors to the blog by posting links to my articles to Facebook groups. However, that would require me to get involved in online discussions, which isn’t something that I have a lot of time for at the moment.

I opened my account in May 2020 after making the decision to create this blog. I have to say that I have been pleasantly surprised by Twitter, mainly thanks to the fact that it’s so easy to get involved in conversations. Posts about politics don’t interest me, so I try to follow only accounts that focus on content relevant to ELT. I use my account for promoting new posts on this blog and sharing links that might interest fellow teachers. There is a huge online community of English teachers on Twitter, so you have a chance to bounce your ideas off others, which I think is great.

This professional social network can definitely be useful in terms of getting in touch with teachers from all over the world. Most of my connections are involved in education, which means that I often encounter thought-provoking content. I use my profile only for activities relevant to my profession. While I enjoy using LinkedIn, there is something that annoys me about this network, and that is the fact that many people think it’s okay to spam my inbox with unsolicited offers. I think this bizarre practice deserves its own blog post, which I’m going to publish in a couple of weeks.

I found out about r/TEFL only a few months ago. I don’t have a Reddit account because I am worried it would lead to procrastination (see this video by Viva La Dirt League), but it isn’t necessary to be a registered user to read the content. However, most of the posts on r/TEFL seem to be from aspiring teachers asking repetitive questions about working in Asia, which doesn’t really interest me. However, if you use the search function, you can find some pretty useful posts on teaching practice and advanced certifications. Colombia doesn’t receive that much attention there, and even r/tefl_blacklist doesn’t include any entry from this country. There are other subs like r/linguistics and r/grammar, which some readers may find helpful.

My bumpy ride with Delta Module Three

If you are looking for general information about the Delta, you should read this post about Module One. In short, I recommend pursuing this qualification if you are interested in making progress as a teacher. Delta requires a lot of hard work and commitment, but it’s worth the effort. My Module One experience was very positive, and I believe that it is perfectly possible to pass the exam without taking a preparatory course. Well, let me tell you that I will refrain from making comments like that about Delta Module Three because I found it much more challenging.

Cambridge Delta Module Three

After passing the Module One exam without major difficulties, I felt confident about facing a new challenge. Since Module Three consists of writing an essay that is sent to Cambridge as a Word or PDF file, you can simply submit it through any authorised centre in the world. There are many useful courses you can take, but you are also allowed to complete your assignment without any assistance. You just need to contact a provider and arrange this option with them. I contacted several centres in Latin America, but for some reason the Cambridge fee in this region is almost twice as expensive when compared to other centres. I found out that you can find the most affordable option by contacting the distance learning providers listed here. Some of them even offer limited tutor support if you don’t want to pay for the full course.

There isn’t an easy step-by-step manual for passing this assignment because its content depends on what you find out during the process. At first, you have to select a topic, research it and identify key issues. It is recommended to write about an area that you are involved in, so I chose ‘Teaching monolingual classes in Colombia’. You need to have access to students in order to perform a needs analysis and a diagnostic test. The results are then used to design a 20-hour course which includes assessment and evaluation. There is a strict limit of 4,500 words for the main body of the assignment, so you can expect to use plenty of appendices to support your ideas.

It is necessary to read the Delta handbook to see what is expected, and I highly recommend going through the 2020 Examination Report as well. There is a lot of useful information provided by ELT Concourse, Lizzie Pinard and Sandy Millin. Every assignment follows the same outline, but you can’t just read someone else’s work and use the same principles in your own essay because your teaching context and students will make it a unique piece of writing. All stages need to be logically connected and you have to justify your choices, which makes this module very challenging. In fact, it took me four months to complete it while working full-time.

My decision to work on Module Three independently wasn’t very smart because I had to resubmit my assignment. I felt sorry for ITI because they let me submit my work through their centre without any tutor input and I damaged their statistics a little bit. Fortunately, the examiner’s report showed that only one section of my assignment wasn’t good enough, so I didn’t need to redo the whole essay. I eventually passed Module Three after submitting it through NILE, whose tutor generously offered to read my draft at no extra cost. The tutor confirmed that I had taken the examiner’s feedback into account, and that put my mind at ease.

If you want to make your life easier, you should pay extra money for a Module Three course. You can decide to work on it alone, but in that case I recommend that you ask someone to read your assignment before you submit it. Although an experienced tutor would be the best option, it could also be someone who is familiar with the way Module Three is graded because Cambridge assessors expect you to present the information in a specific manner. You have to state the obvious and make explicit references to other stages of the assignment, which is quite tricky when you have a strict word limit. If you make the same choice like me and try to tackle this module before completing Module Two, you may find the writing process very challenging.

Asking someone else to read your essay is beneficial in terms of proofreading as well. My tutor pointed out a couple of embarrassing mistakes that I had made. While I find it easy to spot issues in other people’s texts, I can’t seem to transfer that skill to my own written production. I am pretty sure that there are errors in my posts on this blog, but my brain is simply incapable of detecting them.

Even though my road to obtaining the Delta Module Three certificate was far from straightforward, it was a very rewarding experience. I learnt a lot about curriculum design, which was an area I hadn’t explored before. Analysing my students’ needs was really enlightening, and it made me think about the way I can make my courses more personalised. Designing a course and a series tests from scratch was very helpful because I had to think of my choices all the time and consider how my students would benefit from that. You have to jump through a lot of hoops to successfully complete it, but this Delta module is very beneficial for your teaching practice.