If you’re visiting this page, then maybe you are considering becoming TEFL certified, or you are already approaching the end of your course and thinking…wait…what is a practicum again?
If you are more like the latter, then you are like me. But don’t worry! Achieving your practicum hours aren’t as challenging as they may seem, and it may even turn out to be your favorite part of the TEFL certification.
What are Practicum Hours
Practicum hours consist of any hands on work in which you are applying the skills that you have learned in the classroom in a real world setting.
To become certified through the International TEFL Academy you are required to complete a practicum in addition to the 150 hours of classwork.
How Many Practicum Hours Do You Need to Become TEFL Certified
For my program through the International TEFL Academy the practicum hours must consist of at least:
- 6 hours of hands on teaching/tutoring
- 12 hours of observation
Although you can do more than the required amount of hands on hours, you must at least complete 6.
Also keep in mind some programs may vary in their requirements.
How Do I Find A Location to Complete My Practicum
As a student through the International TEFL Academy they will provide you access to a database of accredited schools that have participated in the program in the past which you can use to look up your location and see if any are nearby.
Although, you are not limited to what is on the list.
I completed my practicum at our local elementary school, and I found this opportunity through my mother who has been a teacher for many years.
How Did You Set Up Your Practicum Hours
I reached out to the local ESL teacher Mr. V at the Elementary school via email and informed him of my program requirements and my goal to become an English teach abroad.
After communicating back and forth we set up two days (February 13th and 14th) for me to come in an observe and student teach in his classroom. He taught 4 classes at the elementary school with students ranging from 1st to 3rd grade, and then would walk across the parking lot to the middle school to provide tutoring for two students, one in 6th grade and one in 7th. I had the pleasure of meeting students from Japan, Korea, Ukraine, Turkey, Spain, and Pakistan, and Mr. V told me stories of students from various other countries that he had taught in his 25 years of teaching ESL.
What Was Your Practicum Experience Like?
Overall, my experience was wonderful. I began the day by joining Mr. V in his classroom at 8:30, a little
over a half hour before the students would be arriving for homeroom. It was during this time that I helped him prep the lessons for the day including gathering materials, going over objectives, and reading any material that we would be covering for the day.
I found that it was through this process that I was able to ask him questions about the strategies he applied in his classroom, as well as the ways in which his students were assessed. He also showed me project completed by his previous students in which he was able to explain the progression of their learning and how he used projects like reading prompts and storytelling to gauge the level of each individual student. I truly came to value this half hour that we shared in the morning, and was appreciate of the experience that he was able to impart upon me.
When it was time to gather the students, we would get up and go to each classroom, in which the teacher would dismiss the student and they would come back with us to spend half of the period (30 minutes) learning ESL. On average Mr. V had a class of 3 to 6 students at one time, and despite the smaller class size I found that even then it was a challenge for him to accommodate the varying levels that he may be teaching in any given group. This was something that I specifically asked Mr. V about, and he said that this was one of the most challenging aspects of his current position as an ESL teacher.
When working with the classes, my role initially was observation. I was introduced to everyone as Ms. Enoch, and that I was in the classroom to learn how to be a teacher someday, and all the students seemed interested, and were welcoming of my presence.
However, before long I found that I could be of help to provide guidance for other students to allow Mr. V to provide some one-on-one teaching.
Some of my responsibilities included:
- Helping students to understand and follow directions
- Assist with writing exercises including correcting spelling and tenses
- Leading guided reading (in this case, a condensed version of the Wizard of Oz).
Before long, I found myself becoming integrated with the classroom, sitting in a tiny chair between two girls from Pakistan teaching them how to draw ponies and making sentences in the past-tense.
I loved every moment of it.
After building some paper Chinese lanterns one of the little 2ndgrade girls told me she wanted me to have hers, and I could have burst with joy. After class ended, the older students would leave and go back to their classrooms and we would walk the younger students back.
I think that the highlight of the practicum experience for me was when two first grade boys from Korea, reached for my hands on the walk back to their classrooms.
After working with the classes in the Elementary School, Mr. V and I walked over to the Middle School where he provided ESL guidance for two students, one of which was an 8th grade boy who spoke primarily Spanish. It was during this time that I was able to observe Mr. V work with the student who did not speak much English, and gain insight into how to form a working relationship.
Additionally, I was also given the opportunity to provide one-on-one guidance to the other student (a 7th grade boy), assisting with completing a study guide for one of his other classes and helping to address spelling errors.
Mr. V not only welcomed me into his classrooms with the younger students, but he also imbued knowledge, experience, advice, and trust in me, and I was so grateful to have been given the opportunity to apply what I had learned through the TEFL course in a setting that was both in a classroom, as well as one-on-one.
“Hi Stephanie, I hope you enjoyed your visit. We were very glad to have you. The kids missed you today…”
The next day, he even emailed me saying how the children were asking for me, and that I am welcome back any time. These words meant the world to me, and I have inspired me even further to continue down this path.
And also feel free to reach out to me if you have any specific questions!