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It’s an exciting time, you have access to Erasmus + funding, you’re looking at the wide choice available of English courses for overseas teachers. You feel ready to have an immersive experience, you know that you shouldn’t stop learning, but how do you choose?
The below list of tips may provide points for you to think about, and to inform that decision
1. Reflect – think about where you are in your career and professional development. What are the things that you want to learn (to do)? This might help you make the decision about which course, or provider to choose. For example, if you feel there are good opportunities for using technology in your classes, and want to build your confidence, you might be interested in a course on Educational Technology. If you decide you want to develop your language then an English Language Course for teachers may be more appropriate to you.
2. Bespoke or off the shelf? This is particularly relevant if you are deciding on behalf of a group of teachers. When thinking about your training needs for an Erasmus+ group, it’s important to find a reliable institution which can develop a specially tailor-made short course for you and your colleagues.
3. Manage your expectations. A two-week study programme is not a Masters level qualification. There will be an element of challenge on an Overseas Teachers’ Course, but it’s also likely that you will review and refresh ideas you are familiar with too. Many teachers want to be perfect, but this is an unreal expectation and may put them under too much stress. A short course is not going to teach you everything you’ll ever need, but many teachers find that a short teacher training course inspires them, revitalises them, and makes them feel like they have become a better teacher as a result.
4. Location, Location, Location! Many teachers tell us that culture and authentic ‘Britishness’ is an important component of their Erasmus+ English course, so teachers often like to take their courses in a town or city which has a vibrant culture. This goes from quirky, fun and unique cities like Brighton on the south coast of England, to the busy, crowded noise of London and every sort of location in between. Remember that you’ll have free time at the weekend to go out and about, and nowhere is too far away in England. It’s worth doing a little research into the places you are thinking about studying in, even if it is for just a fortnight. I suggest you try Google Maps street view feature to have a virtual walk around the cities you’re interested in studying in.
5. The Social Programme most teachers’ courses have an optional social programme, and the best schools will offer the kinds of excursions and activities they know to be important to overseas teachers of English. Check what outings and activities are included in your course fees (if any). You are coming to the UK to have fun, explore as well as to learn. And you can learn while you explore.
6. Facilities and Resources: facilities like the classroom spaces, the school building, library, computer suites are all important factors. The ambience of the place, and the quality and comfort of the physical environment are important factors. Many schools offer virtual tours and certainly have photo galleries and videos for you to get a good feel for the school. As an English teacher, you’ll know how important the learning environment is, so make sure you find something which suits you and your own learning preferences. Also, one thing we know to be the case is that English teachers who come together from overseas like to talk to each other a lot. So make sure there’s a nice lounge area, cafeteria and lots of break-out space too!
7. Family and friends: it’s a good idea to discuss your potential study trip to the UK with your family and friends and seek their support. Similarly, it’s a great idea to try and meet up with family and friends who you may not have seen for a long time who are in England. Family and friend visits and meetings are often significant moments for many of our teachers that they look forward to and enjoy.
Ed Russell is the Head of Teacher training here at ELC Brighton and has nearly 15 years’ experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, academic manager, conference speaker and published writer both in the UK and in a number of other countries including working for the British Council in Thailand, Palestine, Bulgaria and Singapore.