By Warren Lilley

TEFL Coordinator

I can’t decide between Full Time and Part Time! Help!

First of all, we are so happy you are thinking about joining our TEFL program! Deciding which TEFL course is right for you can be a difficult decision.

In this post, we offer some guidance on what to expect on each course as well as some important information that can help you make an informed decision that works best for you.

What is the difference between Full-Time and Part-Time?

Both courses offer 120 hours of face-to-face, in-class contact hours with around 80 after-hours work that will go into your lesson preparation and assignments for the course.

The major difference between the two is the level of course intensity. What we mean by this is the time in which you have to come to terms with course content (input sessions) and your completion of coursework (i.e. lesson planning and assignments).

What do you mean by course intensity?

To answer this question we need to first briefly explain how our TEFL course is very different from any other courses you may have been previously exposed to.

The UCT TEFL course is an experiential learning course. In other words, the course is not based on traditional or didactic teaching as you encountered at school or university where access to new theoretical knowledge is given (like in a lecture) and then you, as a student, would need to show your application and acquisition of that knowledge (as you would in an essay or similar task).

Instead, the course revolves around developing your experience of teaching. You will start teaching from the third day (Full Time) or second week (Part-Time) of the course. Following your teaching, you, your tutor and classmates will engage in a critical reflection of the lesson you taught, identifying what worked and what did not work. This critical reflection will help guide you in the development of your next lesson with your specific set of students.

This forms the core base of ‘learning’ on the course, which is what you have learned from your observed lesson as well as the greater discussion which discerned what worked and what could be further improved upon. These ‘learnings’ from your teaching experience will then help you in the preparation of your next lesson, which will follow the same pattern.

The input sessions, on the other hand, are meant as a more formal unpacking of the theory and methodology of language learning. They are designed to expose you to the deeper understandings and ways of teaching language that can be applied to all of your lessons. Many of these sessions will build on your own experiences of teaching that you have encountered over the course, allowing you to gain not only a deeper insight into ways to make your teaching more effective but also other ways to arrive at your lesson aims. This means that input sessions support and build upon your teaching practice. In this, rather than the input (knowledge) being the sole focus of the course (as they would be in more traditional classrooms), it is your development as a teacher (your experience) that is the focus. In other words, the UCT TEFL course is about developing your practical effectiveness as a language teacher and then about developing the knowledge to support that teaching practice.

What all of this means is that actual teaching is what occurs on our courses and that you as the teacher-trainee need to be teaching as often as possible to gain the needed classroom-experience to become an effective language teacher. To do so requires, you, as a teacher-trainee to be spending most your time preparing and trying to incorporate the theory and methods of the input sessions in your lessons.

For teachers on the Full-Time course, this preparation for teaching will occur at a much faster rate. Teachers will often teach at least two lessons a week with about two to three days to prepare their lessons. This is combined with a full day of teaching practice and input sessions that starts in the morning and finishes in the late afternoon.

On the Part-Time course, teacher-trainees get more time to do this, as they will teach once a week, with one week between each teaching practice to prepare for their lessons. This is also reflected in how the day is broken up over the week where our students have teaching practice on Tuesdays and then on Thursdays, they have input sessions.

As such, the course intensity for the Full-Time course is higher than the Part-Time, as students on the Full-Time course have much less time to prepare for their teaching practice.

How does the UCT TEFL course support me with this course intensity?

On both our courses we have built-in a number of strategies to help our students cope with the TEFL course intensity.

1. Personal Course Tutor

Throughout the course, you have access to a personal tutor who will help you in the lesson preparation and design as well as guide your teacher development. Your tutor will be available at times outside of class as well to help you with any issues you experience after class in your lesson preparation.

2. Lesson Preparation

We have are also built-in times on both courses where you tutor will provide you with dedicated in-class time to support your lesson preparation. During this time your tutor will give you one-on-one time to listen to your ideas and concerns, and provide you with some advice to help you in your lesson preparation.

3. Use of Technology

Our course utilises the benefits of the latest technology to aid our trainees in their TEFL journey. With the amount of lesson preparation that happens outside the course, we provide the use of a virtual classroom where you can ask your tutor questions or get more detailed feedback on your lesson plans when you need their help the most.

In your opinion, who should take the Full-Time Course?

First and foremost, is that the choice of which course best suits you should be your decision entirely! However, that does not mean we cannot give some insight into our experience who make ideal candidates for the Full-Time course.

As stated earlier, the Full-Time course is a much more intense course than the Part-Time one due to the time you have, as a student, to take everything onboard. With that in mind, in our experience students who can work fairly well under pressure and can manage their time well  thrive in the full-time course. We have a lot of ground to cover over the month of making you an EFL teacher and if you have the skills of effective time management and responding positively to pressure, then you will start the Full-Time course with an advantage.

Furthermore, given the intensity of the course is how you well you work with others. A large part of teaching, especially outside the classroom, is about working effectively as a team. Your ability to work well with others can truly be beneficial in helping you manage your time over the course and help you in your overall lesson preparation.

Finally, we have also found trainees that constructively respond and quickly take on to criticism to be ideal for the Full-Time course. Remember a lot of the course is based on your actual teaching in the classroom. After every lesson you teach, your tutor and colleagues will offer you advice about what worked well in your lesson and what could need more work. Your ability to positively take this advice on and implement it in your future lessons can truly help you develop into the best teacher you can be!

To summarise then:

Firstly remember! My TEFL, my choice! You should decide first which course will work best for you in terms of time and money.

  1. Do you respond positively to pressure?
  2. Are you able to manage your time effectively?
  3. Are you a team player?
  4. Are you able to take advice on and quickly put it into practice?

If any or all of these is a yes, then Full-Time is right up your alley! However if these questions are giving you a reason to pause and think, the Part-Time option may work better for you.

In your opinion, who should take the Part-Time Course?

The Part-Time course is designed for students who have more time to develop their teaching abilities. With the Part-Time course, you as the student get more time to plan lessons and complete your assignments.

In our experience, here are some qualities that make for an ideal candidate for the Part-Time course.

One the greatest qualities is the ability to self-motivate. Given the time between lessons and input sessions, a lot of your teaching growth will be dependant on your ability to continually push yourself. Some people need constant pressure to do this, but if you can do this yourself then the Part-Time is ideal for you.

We have also found candidates that prefer more time for reflection to also fair better on the Part-Time course. Over the course, we ask you, as a teacher-in-training to critically evaluate your teaching and outline areas you believe you are succeeding in and others where you know you could improve. This process is sparked at the end of your lesson when you get your first attempt to reflect on your lesson strengths and weaknesses. However, if you are able to continue this self-reflection process from one lesson to the next, it can dramatically help your teacher development over the Part-Time course.

Finally, the Part-Time course is also ideal for candidates that have had a long break from studying or have not been in a similar career path like education for a while. The pressure of a Full-Time course is akin (or higher) to that of any other post-secondary school course with lots of deadlines and quick turnarounds. The Part-Time allows you the flexibility and scope to come to terms with these kinds of demands, giving you, the student, time to take on advice and the course content at a more ideal pace.

To summarise then:

Firstly remember! My TEFL, my choice! You should decide first which course will work best for you in terms of time and money.

  1. Are you able to motivate yourself?
  2. Are you able to engage in a long and deep reflection about yourself?
  3. Do you prefer or need more time to get back into education?

If any or all of these is a yes, then Part-Time could be the ideal TEFL course for you!

We hope this has been an informative post that guides you in your course selection. Whatever your course preference, the UCT TEFL team will help you every step of the way to fulfill your teaching dreams!

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