Our trainers answer questions on their experience hosting a virtual course vs an in-class course.

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Covid-19 has wreaked havoc in the world and disrupted many travel plans, including gap year adventures and study abroad programs. With little notice as to how the world around us was changing, the Destination TEFL team leapt to the challenge and adapted our fully on-site TEFL course to being a virtual course. Those who were disappointed about cancelled flights and new adventures in Asia, soon saw that they could use lockdown time wisely to up-skill and prepare for when the skies once again opened and new destinations could be explored.

Our virtual courses are fun, interactive and students get to engage with their trainers and classmates live and in real time. This is far different to a boring self-study online course.

Destination TEFL offers two virtual learning options:

1: 120-hour Virtual TEFL/TESOL course. Do this course in the comfort of your home and prepare to either teach online afterwards, or in a classroom setting later down the line.

2: 140-hour Hybrid Virtual course. This involves two modules, with module 1 being the 120-hour virtual course above, and module 2 being an additional two weeks on site in Siem Reap Cambodia, consisting of observed teacher practicums at local NGOs and includes 2 weeks of hotel accommodation and breakfast, a cultural tour, airport collection and job placement assistance in Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam. This 2nd module can be done at any point in the future, depending on when you feel ready to travel again.

We asked our Academic Director, Kathryn Webb and Head Trainer, Tina Hennessy how they found teaching virtually compared to teaching in the classroom.

Tina and Kathryn, well done for being so flexible and adapting the course to suit the needs of our current situation.

What did you find the most challenging in adapting the streamlined onsite TEFL course to the virtual course, with regards to your teaching material?

“Adapting the ‘Find Someone Who’ activities and repairing activities without the students being able to move about – but we got creative, left our comfort zone and managed!” -- Kathryn

The main challenge was to convert extremely active lessons with high TPR (total physical response) into engaging virtual lessons. -- Tina

Materials aside, what other aspects of hosting a virtual course have you found challenging?

“Familiarising ourselves with all the options available on the platform and finding the most efficient solutions to our needs.” – Kathryn

It takes longer for students to bond and get to know each other, so initially interaction patterns are Teacher-Student (heavy). Using break out rooms helped change this, and made students more independent and autonomous. They began to assist each other. – Tina

Do you find a difference in how your bond with your students virtually vs in the classroom?

“No. We were able to bond with our trainees and they, with each other, very easily, greatly due to the way activities were designed to ensure a lot of pair and small group work. We foster a team environment where we celebrate mistakes and learn from each other just like in the in-house course.” – Kathryn

Despite having never met our students, I'm pretty sure life-long bonds have been formed, not only between us and the students but also between peers. While in the break out rooms on Zoom, students really began to bond with each other. Personally, I cannot wait to meet the students in real life. As with most courses, after the real-life interaction is over you stay in touch online, and that's been exactly the same with our students on the virtual course. – Tina

Do you feel that the students have been negatively affected in any way by not being on site, or do you think that this has in fact actually taught them a new skill and to adapt to new ways of teaching, but being the virtual student themselves?

“Doing the course virtually has taught us ALL – trainers and trainees alike - new skills that will be valuable in any workplace. As the majority of trainees will be teaching online initially and perhaps later on in their careers, it has given them an opportunity to learn how to use Zoom as well as to participate as students in activities virtually that they, in turn, can use in their virtual classroom.” – Kathryn

As the course progressed we saw students become more confident using the platform and less intimidated by technology. It does take a little while, but they did very well, and managed to make great mini-lessons to practise using the various tools online. They could also review all our recorded lessons and presentations. Being virtual students themselves put them in their future students' shoes, something the previous batches didn't get to experience. They definitely have an advantage. – Tina

Many of our graduates, both from our in-class courses as well as our virtual course will go on to teach online, which is why we have added an intense module on ‘how to teach online’. If you could give one piece of advice for someone wanting to teach online, what would it be?

“Teach THROUGH the screen and not TO the screen. Good classroom practice is good classroom practice regardless of the venue.” – Kathryn

Do a dry run of your lesson/activity with peers/friends before your real (online) students, simple things can become challenging online - frankly, it's the same as in real life, you always practice it before the real class. – Tina

And lastly, will you wish you had a ‘mute all’ button once you’re training in the classroom again?

“Never! Love the excitement of an engaged group eager to participate.” – Kathryn

Haha! It seriously puts the egg-shaker to shame! -- Tina

Read our blog on the difference between an online course and a virtual course here

Read feedback from our recent virtual course trainees here

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