The Language House and TEFL Training

After leaving China, I decided to get certified. You don’t have to have your TEFL cert to teach in China; I’m evidence of that, but I thought it would broaden my opportunities. It is a good idea if you want to teach overseas. You can get your TEFL pretty much anywhere, but there are a few things you want to keep in mind when deciding where to go. One is that you want to make certain that the TEFL school is accredited. This is really important. Your certificate must be internationally recognized. You’ll also want a program that offers over 100 hours of TEFL training and teaching. You want real teaching hours with real students. You want your teachers to be trained and certified, and you want some help with job placement assistance. If you want to read more in-depth information on hunting for the right TEFL Program you can link here and here.

Now, let me tell you why I chose The Language House in Prague. I’ll start with the completely impractical reason first, and then follow the more researched reason.

I chose Prague because I love Prague. I lived here in 2000, and I had always wanted to return. As some of you who have followed this blog know, I wrote my first (and so far only) novel about living in Prague. The city had haunted my memories for the past 14 years. Since, my mom had died in February, and I was heartbroken and completely lost without having any feeling of home, I thought why not continue to move on to the next place? And, why not have that place be Prague a city that had been on my mind?

There are plenty of places in Prague where you can get your TEFL cert, but I chose the Language House. Their certificate is recognized, fully accredited and externally Monitored by IATQuO. They offer 130 hours of teacher training including the actual teaching of real life students. The main reason I chose them was because they have an extensive social network that allowed me to get in contact with previous students. This network offered me real feedback about the program, and I felt I could trust them once I was able to read reviews, and contact a few folks. I could see that people were actually teaching and that they felt the program was a good program, and one that they were willing to recommend.

Now that I have completed the program I can throw in my two cents. I think The Language House is an excellent program. I can’t say it is the best in Prague because I didn’t go to any of the other schools, but I had met students from other schools who felt their program had lacked the teaching time and the teacher support that we received at the Language House. The teachers are excellent, but using the word excellent is empty without adding a few examples. So here they are:

Anthony, gave us an introduction to Phonetics. He was well versed in the subject and was enthusiastic in his teaching of the classes. He was funny, helpful, and I heard from other students that he was a wonderful observer. (I’ll explain observer in a bit.)

Andrea, is pretty much everything a person would want in a teacher. Hilarious, intelligent, informative, had an incredible command of the class, and during our lesson planning she was there to give us helpful advice. She gave us grammar lessons-focused on conditionals, and CV versus resume information. She is also the jobs go-to person and she is always quick to respond to questions.

Chris Foxwell had the reputation of being the hard-ass out of the teachers. You know that teacher that really pushes you, and you think that he/she may be some kind of a sadists, (but remember you’re the masochist for signing up for the class) till you realize you learned so much from that teacher? That’s Chris. He’s a no excuses type of instructor, and you are going to learn from him. He went over grammar and methodology. You could tell he loved what he was teaching and wanted teachers coming out of The Language House to be the best.

Chris Westergaard, is the program director and owner of The Language House. He is a natural in front of the class. He is engaging and insightful. He offers an enormous breadth of information and TEFL teaching knowledge from ten years of experience. And, he has many funny tales of TEFL teaching life.

There are more people to mention at The Language House, but these were my core instructors. There was also Jitka our Czech language teacher, and Kirrily who taught Young Learners, both great teachers. I had mentioned in a paragraph above about observers. We began teaching real students in the second week of this four week program. We were observed every time, and at the end of classes we were given in-depth feedback on our teaching. You’ll have three different observers and teach three different levels during your course. Expect to feel tired.

Here’s more of what you’ll experience: You will learn your grammar. You will take a grammar test that you need to pass with at least an 80% in order to get your certificate. You will go to class everyday and teach everyday (except on Friday- no teaching). You will freak out about not having a lesson plan. You will freak out when you realize you don’t know your own language’s grammar, but your Czech students do. You will think that you were crazy for signing up for this program. You will get tired of your feedback, until one day someone say’s “that’s an almost a perfect grammar lesson,” then you’ll feel amazing. You’ll learn new teaching methodologies, but you will focus on the ESA method of teaching. You’ll meet really wonderful people. You’ll let loose like crazy on the weekends. Then it will be over.

During my first week of class, as Chris W. taught us about the ESA method (Engage, Study, Activate), right away my mind flashed back to my literature classes in China. It was obvious to me how much this type of training would have assisted me in my classes. I thought about how I could have done things differently and how much it would have improved my lessons.

No, you don’t need your TEFL to teach in China, but I think it can not only increase your pay and your opportunities, but it will help make your classroom experience better for you and your students. If you want to teach overseas I highly recommend you take a course, and if you decide to come to Prague for your training- I sincerely and emphatically recommend The Language House in Prague.

The New Starting Point

Too much time has passed since my last post, and too much has happened. Since my mother died back in February just a week after her 65th birthday and a week before my 41st, I haven’t been mentally stable. I fake it pretty well most of the time, and of course as the days and months pass it gets easier, but my anger, my hurt, and the worst of it, my depression comes to me in random waves, very much like the ocean.

I’m lethargic, ennui, envious, and the worst; self-loathing. “I should never have left, I should never have left”, like a ringing bell warning me when the invasion of emotions are at the gates. I think of the wall around the city of Xi’an. I rode a bike around that fortress from the Bell Tower to the Drum Tower, and all around the inner part of the ancient city. The emperors and warlords made great efforts to keep the invaders out, but every city eventually falls. Sometimes the damage is done internally. I think about how I’ve successfully built this wall, that bricks have been laid year after year, but the warring is happening within the walls because no matter how high or how thick your fortress you cannot keep death out.

I’d like to envision things a little bit differently. Instead of being immersed in the warring history of early Chinese empires or medieval religious crusades where life is brutal and the average human is left to suffer, I’d like to make this metaphor a little more Monty Python. It needs to be a lot more Monty Python, because the only way to get through this world amidst all the pain of it is to laugh. Really laugh. It’s all a huge joke.

The other day I had told someone that I was about 80% nihilist. Nihilists suck. It’s just a low-brow opinion, but they do. I know I may be offending the nihilists of the world, but it’s a grey world with no purpose in the land of nihilists which I will now call the land of Ne because I need to laugh at this grey purposeless world- it’s the only way to get through it. Only way for me. So this fortress I’ve built is now guarded by a French soldier with a ridiculous accent, and he’s blowing his nose at death and depression, he is farting in their general direction.

“Your mother was hamster and your father smelt of Elderberries!”

So where does all this nonsense leave me especially in regard to catching up on this blog and the history of my past eight months? In the present, radiating out to the future and the past like a supernova till the humor-over takes it all.

So. I’m here in Prague. Sitting at a temporary location preparing for a solo trip into Bohemia with my king and nights leading the way as we run away from the nihilistic grey-ness and search for this elusive holy grail filled with healing and happiness and nonsensical humor. I leave the French behind at the gate to taunt some more.

We used to laugh, my mother and I.
We used to laugh so much.
I should laugh.
It’s the least I can do.