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Certificate of Advanced TESOL

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Earn a TESOL® Certificate of Completion
    1. An Introduction to Teaching ESL/EFL
    Course Description

    Would you like to increase your effectiveness as an English language teacher? Would you like to go beyond the well-known methods that often leave teachers frustrated with their one-size-fits-all approach? This course will take you on a fascinating exploration of what it means to be a teacher, how to understand who your students are and the needs they have, and how to choose the most appropriate materials and activities for your classroom. You'll learn how you can choose and fine-tune the principles that exactly fit your teaching situation.

    During the next six weeks, we'll rethink the traditional native vs. non-native speaker distinction, see why teaching English is so different from teaching other subjects, and explore innovative approaches like Communicative Language Teaching and the lexical approach. You'll gain new insights and ideas for teaching vocabulary, grammar, listening, speaking, reading, and writing. You'll also discover what some of your options are in designing fair and accurate tests. And you'll learn how to keep learning and growing throughout your teaching career. Also, students who successfully complete this course will receive a TESOL Certificate of Completion.

    So join us on this journey of becoming a more reflective and effective English language teacher!


    Tom Scovel

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    Instructor: Tom Scovel

    Dr. Tom Scovel is a professor at San Francisco State University, where he teaches courses as diverse as ESL Grammar and Psycholinguistics. Scovel was born and raised in China and attended high school in India before going to the United States for his university education. His research and teaching interests focus largely on language pedagogy, psycholinguistics, and second language acquisition, and he has published and spoken widely in these areas, including the text Learning New Languages by Heinle. In his free time, Scovel enjoys being with his grandchildren and training for triathlons.


    Internet access, e-mail, the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and the Adobe Flash and PDF plug-ins (two free and simple downloads you obtain at http://www.adobe.com/downloads by clicking Get Adobe Flash Player and Get Adobe Reader).


    A new section of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

    All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have to be present when lessons are released. You will have access to all lessons until the course ends. However, the interactive discussion area that accompanies each lesson will automatically close two weeks after the lesson is released. As such, we strongly recommend that you complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

    The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks to complete all of your course work, including the final exam.

    Week 1

    Wednesday - Lesson 01
    The English language is everywhere—in music and movies, classrooms and airports, newspapers and e-mail. It's the language of both Shakespeare and Hollywood. So everyone knows what English is . . . or do they? Is it British, American, Canadian, or Australian? Is it harder to learn than other languages? In our first lesson, we'll explore the native vs. non-native distinction people often make about English speakers. We'll also look at how teaching English is different from teaching other subjects. And finally, we'll see which aspects of memory are most helpful in learning a language.

    Friday - Lesson 02
    What exactly is teaching? Have you given much thought to what kinds of roles you play in the classroom? Well, today you will! Teachers have many roles, including lesson planner, friend, authority, coach, assessor, and role model, just to name a few. In this lesson, you'll reflect on the different roles you play in the classroom, the role of English language teaching in your curriculum and community, and what factors should shape your particular style. After this lesson, you might agree that the best answer to, "What exactly is teaching?" is, "It depends!"

    Week 2

    Wednesday - Lesson 03
    As an English teacher, you naturally want to choose the most appropriate materials and activities for your classroom. But how do you do this? First, you must answer the most important question of all: Who are you teaching? In this lesson, you'll think about the faces you see every day in your classroom. Are they younger or older? What life experiences and intellectual abilities do they bring with them? Why do they want to learn English? All these variables will impact how you teach, shaping your approach and the activities you choose. One thing's for sure: It's really not English we're teaching, but students.

    Friday - Lesson 04
    In this lesson, we'll take a look at some of the many methods people have used over the years to teach foreign languages. Some are hundreds of years old, while others are fairly new on the scene. As you'll see, though, all of them suffer from certain limitations. Are they useless to us then? Not at all. Today we'll explore how, even though the methods themselves may not help us much, we can still gain a lot from understanding the ideas that led to their creation.

    Week 3

    Wednesday - Lesson 05
    If methods are too limiting, what can you use to guide you in your teaching? In this lesson, we'll focus on general principles that can guide your choice of classroom activities whatever your situation may be. You'll learn about Communicative Language Teaching, as well as a number of principles that experts have developed along the way. Of course, you're not limited to what others have done. Instead, you'll discover ways to select or even develop your own principles. And you'll find the freedom to choose the principles that are relevant to your teaching situation and let go of those that aren't.

    Friday - Lesson 06
    How do we define what a word is? By its spelling? By its pronunciation? By its dictionary meaning? As teachers of the English language, words are our stock-in-trade. We must teach vocabulary, because a language is made of its words. But we can't really teach the true meaning of words if we teach them in isolation and out of context. In this lesson, we'll look at several types of meaning you need to be aware of and explore some techniques for teaching vocabulary items in the most helpful way.

    Week 4

    Wednesday - Lesson 07
    No other aspect of language teaching is more misunderstood and disliked than grammar! Like it or not, though, grammar is the linguistic glue that holds words together. In this lesson, we'll look at interesting ways to teach grammar, including using listening, the lexical approach, the top-down approach, and context. These approaches will not only be useful and relevant, but they might even make grammar exciting for your students to learn!

    Friday - Lesson 08
    Listening and speaking come so naturally in our first language that it might seem hard to believe that we actually need to teach these skills in a second language. Natural or not, these two skills are exceedingly complex, and each demands special approaches and techniques. In this lesson, we'll look at how these skills differ, and then we'll examine ways to help students improve their listening comprehension and speaking abilities.

    Week 5

    Wednesday - Lesson 09
    The majority of English learners around the world need to learn reading the most, yet this skill is probably taught the least. In this lesson, we'll look at different writing and spelling systems, the problems that come with the irregularities of English, and different types of reading skills. We'll also examine teaching techniques like skimming, scanning, and transcoding that can help students improve their reading comprehension and speed.

    Friday - Lesson 10
    Millions of people around the world can speak perfectly well but can't read or write in their own language. A person needs years of schooling to develop strong writing skills—and it's even more challenging to learn to write in a second language. So today, we'll review the characteristics of good writing, and you'll get some ideas about how to make learning this skill a little less daunting for your students.

    Week 6

    Wednesday - Lesson 11
    Have you ever met a student who really likes to take tests? Probably not. And with all the work that goes into them, teachers like them even less! Yet we constantly need to assess, evaluate, and test to know what progress our students are making and where they may need help. In this lesson, you'll learn the key difference between mistakes and errors, get some ideas about how to offer correction, discover different types of tests, and see how to keep them fair, accurate, and relevant.

    Friday - Lesson 12
    In our final lesson, we'll explore how to become more reflective and effective teachers. You'll learn how to become more expert and efficient, and you'll discover ways to gain insight into your vocation through watching and learning from other teachers, observing and evaluating yourself, and journaling. Finally, you'll see the great value in continuing your professional growth, becoming the great teacher you were meant to be!