With English being the global language it is, the provision of quality training for professional development becomes a must. In response to the growing demand in Europe and Latin America, as well as in the rest of the world, for improvement in the quality and effectiveness of English language teaching in both the public and the private sector, a programme in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) has been developed. It is specifically designed for distance learning, and has been developed in collaboration with La Fundación Universitaria Iberoamericana (FUNIBER).
The programme aims to help practicing teachers, or those wishing to become teachers, address in an informed and principled way the issues and professional needs that relate to their own working environment. The type of training is thus developed to encourage the learner’s autonomy without losing sight of elements of constant but flexible interaction, tailored to the specific needs of teachers in professional development.
As a result, the material used has been designed to be accessed on the Internet by means of a special interface created for this reason. The interface is a central part of this type of teacher training since the virtual interaction, by means of e-mail, discussion groups, chats, etc., bridges the geographical gap between the different components of the course.
The overall objective of the programme TEFL is to provide a base for the development of the academic and professional skills required to teach English in any of the various teaching-learning contexts that exist. The aim thus being to complement professional practice with contemporary knowledge and insights, concerning the nature of foreign language learning and teaching, and to develop the perceptions, knowledge, resources and practical skills necessary to build on this theoretical base.
The promotion of critical reflection is one of the aspects, which define the very nature of the project, and bridges the gap between a solid theoretical knowledge and its required practical application.
- To provide a comprehensive understanding of the English teacher's work and to help develop strategies for dealing with major aspects of this work, as much as possible within the context of your own current or anticipated work situation.
- To acquaint you with current approaches to the study of language that are relevant to the field of English language teaching and to help you develop, in the context of these approaches, a deeper understanding of and sensitivity to the nature of language, language use and language development.
- To emphasize individual professional growth and to enable you to pursue in greater depth new aspects of English language teaching that are of particular interest, concern or relevance to you personally.
- To provide students with the necessary support to be able to carry out action research in an autonomous manner and, as a result, promote professional development.
In this way the programme's practical focus encourages you to:
- Reflect on and interpret the relation between theory and practice.
- Adapt new ideas and strategies to your own classroom situation.
- Test and appraise new teaching techniques in your own classrooms.
- Apply your analytical skills to specific problems or issues.
- Demonstrate your capacity to review and criticise current relevant literature and research within ELT.
- Assess the advantages and disadvantages of particular strategies and programmes, which are characteristic of current practice.
- Apply the knowledge and skills gained in the programme in a continuing process of improving your own teaching and your students' learning.
A guiding principle of the programme is that the participating English teachers are viewed as professional practitioners who through the course are involved in a process of professional development that is directly related to, and located in, their current work situation.
Who is the programme for?
The programme leading to the Master, Diploma or Certificates in TEFL is intended for:
- Primary and secondary level English language teachers in public or private institutions.
- Teachers of EFL working in adult education.
- Graduates with relevant qualifications intending to work as English language teachers.
The programme does not consist simple of the delivery of content, but rather, just as in the case of face-to-face courses, it includes a series of pedagogical aspects aimed at promoting collaborative learning (between peers and tutors). All the courses are based on the following methodological concepts:
- Learning as a collaborative undertaking.
- A dynamic and constructivist concept of teaching and learning.
- Promotion of critical reflection on one’s own teaching practice and beliefs.
- An approach based within the framework of action-research.
- Cohesive and multicultural groups.
The Virtual Campus
As a pioneer in the field of distance education La Fundación Universitaria Iberoamericana, has set up a Virtual Campus, which is accessed via the Internet. The Virtual Campus offers you the possibility of making direct contact with peers working on the course at your own and other universities, and discussing issues and questions arising from the course materials. Tutors also regularly participate in discussions, monitoring and synthesising participants’ contributions on topics, and informing participants of websites where additional information (such as articles published in on-line ELT journals, or webcasts) may be found.
Apart from the enormous potential for making direct and continued contact with peers and tutors, you will be able to access the course materials themselves on-line, and to submit assignments via the Virtual Campus (VC).
The virtual campus has been developed following a definite pedagogical approach, according to the criteria detailed below:
- Students can use the Virtual Campus as a complement to the written material, as well as accessing the compulsory readings, with no additional cost.
- The Virtual Campus is a complement to the actual learning experience in that it provides access to a number of additional resources such as the course materials, bibliography, recommended web sites, self-evaluation and feedback, glossaries, etc.
- The Virtual Campus provides you with the means to exchange opinions and experience with students and tutors alike by means of the discussion lists, the VC e-mail and the Coffee Shop (a space provided for you to interact with the whole student community), consult the Events Calendar, where you can find information on which EFL events are taking place all over the world, and you also have the possibility to participate in the on-line chats and debates that are held for each subject and that will, without doubt, prove to be an enriching and useful experience.
At the beginning of the course, each student is provided with an individual password and a user name to allow access to the Virtual Campus.
In addition to this, the first two weeks before the course officially starts consist of an orientation period to the use the VC. Consequently, you do not need any previous IT-knowledge to enrol on the course.
During the Orientation Period, students take part in a series of socialization tasks in order to get to know each other while learning how to use the virtual campus (sending internal mails, opening and sending attachments, read on-line articles etc.). These two initial weeks of orientation have proved to be extremely useful, and at times even crucial for the establishment of group dynamics.