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The Via Lingua Certificate in Teaching English as Foreign Language

Via Lingua provides a 130 hour program for graduates who wish to gain certification as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Typically course members (trainees) are over 21 years of age and hold a degree from a recognized university. In certain circumstances non-degree holders will be considered for a place if their qualifications and / or experience are regarded as being equivalent to the demands of a degree. Trainees must either be native speakers of English or be able to demonstrate a competence in English sufficient for study at a Higher Education facility.

1. General principles of the Via Lingua program
2. The Via Lingua approach to training
3. Course structure
4. Course Content
5. Expectations of trainer and trainee commitment
6. Assessment and certification

1. General principles that underpin the Via Lingua CTEFL program

The Via Lingua CTEFL program is unique in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, in terms of both the content and the structure. The program is underpinned by the following principles:

  • We recognize the fact that individuals who attend our study programs are involved in a life-long journey of personal and professional development and that they bring to the program a variety of skills, talents, experiences, needs and objectives. We seek to support individuals as they endeavor to add to their existing repertoire of achievements.
  • We also recognize the fact that one of the greatest challenges and opportunities provided by Via Lingua study programs is in relation to cultural exchange. Our aim is to provide study programs that draw on the local community and actively cultivate the exchange of information, ideas, experiences, language and culture.
  • In addition, we recognize that many of the qualities and skills required of a successful language teacher are transferable in nature and not restricted simply to an awareness of pedagogy and language teaching techniques. An integral part of the objectives of our study programs, therefore, is a strong focus on the development of life skills, the type of skills that will contribute not only to professional success but, more importantly, to the development of the whole person.
  • Furthermore, we recognize that personal and professional development opportunities, such as Via Lingua study programs, are only successful if the individual takes personal responsibility for his / her own process and makes effective use of the support and guidance which is provided as part of the study environment. An important objective of our programs is to provide a framework for individual growth and development, rather than a "one size fits all" course.
  • We are very aware that individuals who take part in our study programs are often in possession of a range of talents. Our aim is to incorporate these talents into every aspect of group and individualized programs.
  • Finally, we recognize the fact that both theory and practice in relation to the teaching of English as a Foreign Language are constantly changing in the light of new research data. Our intention is to ensure that Via Lingua programs, and the trainers who deliver the programs, retain their position at the cutting edge of TEFL thinking. The active involvement of our staff in action research activities allows us to contribute to this process.

2. The Via Lingua approach to professional training

The pedagogical approach promoted by Via Lingua is best characterized by the following criteria:

An appreciation of group dynamics

The trainer is aware of how groups work and the stages that they need to go through in order to work effectively. This is a very important factor in determining how successful individual trainees will eventually be on the course. Effective groups do not happen by chance; the style and process which are utilized by the trainer directly influence success.

Interactive learning

Training sessions are managed in such a way that you will be required to take an active part in your own education. Sessions are characterized by a high percentage of interactive activities where you will be required to consider situations / concepts / questions through performing a set of tasks. The cycle of "doing", "reflecting", "hypothesizing" and "testing" is employed in all aspects of the course. Throughout this process, you will be encouraged to make reference to the pre-course experiences of yourself and others in the group.

Academic rigor

The trainers recognize that the ideas and concepts which are explored with trainees should be firmly grounded in an awareness of established pedagogical research and practice. Reference will be made during the sessions and in recommended reading tasks to the theoretical base underpinning the content of input sessions.

Pragmatism

Trainers are fully aware of the limitations of a short intensive course and are, therefore, conscious of the need to provide you with practical guidelines, tips, strategies, materials and models which they can utilize in the classroom.

Modeling

Whenever practical, trainers model teaching approaches and activities which you will be able to replicate in the TEFL classroom. This may be in the form of instruction giving, the use of pairs and small groups, the management of feed-back sessions or strategies for introducing and exploring areas of grammar.

Opportunities for practice

Many of the input sessions will provide you with the opportunity to test out new ideas and insights through peer teaching activities.

3. Course Structure and Syllabus.

The Via Lingua CTEFL course comprises five components:

  • Pedagogy theory
  • Language awareness
  • Teaching skills
  • Cultural awareness
  • Life skills
Each component comprises a set of standardized statements of competence, accompanied by indicators of success. The indicators describe the skills, knowledge and qualities associated with effective teachers of English as a Foreign Language. The standardized statements of competence are as follows:

The competent CTEFL teacher is able to ... 
1. Pedagogy Theory

1.1. Describe a range of teaching methodologies, approaches and strategies
1.2. Describe the skills, knowledge and qualities which characterize an effective teacher
1.3. Describe the factors which influence the establishment of an effective learning environment
1.4. Describe a range of strategies for supporting, monitoring and assessing student progress
2. Language Awareness

2.1. Describe the purposes and nature of Communication
2.2. Describe key features in relation to the structure of the English language
2.3. Describe and explain the English tense system and other, commonly taught, grammatical features
2.4. Describe how sounds are made and modified and use phonetic symbols to describe the sounds of English
3. Teaching Skills

3.1. Design and prepare effective lessons
3.2. Prepare and manage the physical learning environment and use resources in an appropriate way
3.3. Provide innovative and flexible learning experiences for individuals and groups of students
3.4. Create learning environments that are student-centered, challenging and safe
4. Cultural Awareness

4.1. Engage in the process of learning a foreign language
4.2. Demonstrate an awareness of the issues in relation to culture and language teaching
4.3. Demonstrate a willingness to foster positive relationships with members of the local community
4.4. Demonstrate an awareness of cultural similarities and differences and our shared cultural heritage
5. Life Skills

5.1. Demonstrate effective interpersonal skills
5.2. Demonstrate effective communication skills
5.3. Demonstrate effective decision-making skills
5.4. Demonstrate effective organizational skills
5.5. Demonstrate effective financial skills
5.6. Demonstrate effective employment awareness skills
5.7. Demonstrate effective legal awareness skills
5.8. Demonstrate effective personal welfare skills

Each component of the Via Lingua program is allocated a minimum number of study hours. These study hours mainly involve:

  • direct contact with trainers or mentors in workshop sessions, planning meetings, lesson preparation or review meetings;
  • direct contact with students during teaching practice sessions;
  • private study and preparation;
  • record keeping and personal reflection linked to the maintenance of a professional portfolio.
This equates to the following calculations:

Minimum hours of theoretical study: 82
Minimum hours of observation of experienced teachers: 6
Minimum hours of guided teaching practice preparation time: 16
Minimum hours of observed and assessed teaching practice: 8
Minimum hours of post lesson discussion / feedback: 8

Total: a minimum of 130 hours

4.Course Content

The minimum content of each of the five components can be described as follows:

Pedagogy Theory
(26 hours of workshop sessions and private study)


-Teaching and learning a foreign language
-Language teaching methodologies
-The syllabus
-The effective teacher
-Classroom management skills
-Language teaching materials
-Lesson planning
-Teaching receptive skills
-Teaching productive skills (speaking)
-Teaching vocabulary
-Teaching pronunciation
-Teaching grammar
-Responding to mistakes and errors
-Language games
-The assessment of language learners
Language Awareness (26 hours)
(26 hours of workshop sessions and private study)


-The purpose and nature of communication
-Word classes
-Verb types and verb forms
-The tense system
-The present simple tense and the present continuous tense
-The past simple tense, the past continuous tense, the past perfect tense (simple and continuous)
-The present perfect tense (simple and continuous
-Expressing the future
-Conditional sentences
-The passive voice
-Gerunds and infinitives
-Modal auxiliary verbs
-Multi-word verbs
-Phonology
Teaching Skills (38 hours)

-Six hours of observing experienced teachers
-Eight hours of assessed teaching practice (*groups and or individual students)
-Sixteen hours of supported lesson preparation time
-Eight hours of post-lesson discussions
Cultural Awareness (14 hours)

-The cross-cultural dimension of language teaching
-The Group Project
Life Skills
(16 hours of workshop sessions, private study, meetings with mentors and research activities)


-Interpersonal skills
-Communication skills
-Decision-making skills
-Organizational skills
-Financial awareness skills
-Employment awareness skills
-Legal awareness skills
-Personal welfare skills

The hours allocated to the Life Skills and Cultural Awareness components represent the minimum number of hours delivered through discrete workshop sessions and meetings with the mentor. The skills, qualities and awareness contained in these components are, in addition, further developed within all other aspects of the program e.g. a language awareness session may include collaborative learning experiences and the requirement to make a presentation.

5. Expectations of trainer and trainee commitments

The fundamental objective of the Via Lingua program is to ensure that trainees take responsibility for their own learning. The trainers and mentors are available at all times to provide a supportive environment and a range of learning opportunities in order to facilitate growth and development. All activities and support strategies are designed to encourage the trainee to reflect on his / her needs and performance in relation to the benchmarks identified in the FPPS.

The course provides the following learning opportunities for trainees:

Learning Opportunities Trainer / Mentor input Trainee input
Negotiation of individualized program -Counsels, guides and advises -Reflects on personal experience and needs and decides on program.
Workshops, seminars and tutorials -Counsels, guides and advises -Reflects on personal experience and needs and decides on program.
Workshops, seminars and tutorials -Provides information.
-Instigates activities and opportunities for reflection.
-Challenges perceptions.
-Provides feedback.
-Models behavior.
-Identifies sources of further information.
-Assigns tasks and assignments.
- Reflects on information provided.
- Draws conclusions.
- Contributes to discussions.
- Engages in tasks and activities.
- Listens to the comments of others
- Observes others.
Private study opportunities -Counsels, guides, supports and advises. -Plans and manages work schedule, in line with individual needs and responsibilities.
-Prepares for future workshop sessions.
-Undertakes further reading.
-Reflects on information provided.
-Engages in action research activities.
Observation of experienced teachers -Provides opportunities for observations to take place.
-Guides trainees in relation to the focus of the observation.
-Manages the post-observation discussion.
- Engages in focused observation.
-Reflects on what has been observed.
-Engages in post-observation discussion.
Guided lesson preparation time -Counsels, guides, supports and advises.
-Directs trainee towards appropriate materials.
-Identifies the indicators which will be used to evaluate the quality of the teaching performance.
-Monitors progress.
-Prepares lessons, in the light of insights gained from the workshop sessions and the input of the trainer / mentor.
Observed and graded teaching practice -Observes and evaluates, according to an agreed schedule.
-Identifies successful and less successful aspects of the lesson.
-Teaches the class.
Post teaching practice discussion -Facilitates a discussion and encourages the trainee to reflect on the extent to which objectives were met.
-Guides trainee into a consideration of what went well and why, and what went less well and why.
-Engages in discussion.
- Reflects on what went well and why, and what went less well and why.
Weekly meetings with mentor -Facilitates a discussion on the progress being made by the trainee (based on the portfolio)
-Counsels, guides, supports and advises.
-Guides the trainee in relation to the "next steps".
-Warns the trainee in situations where there are serious concerns about performance, attendance, behavior etc.
-Engages in discussion on personal progress (based on the portfolio)
-Reflects on the advice of the mentor and negotiates "next steps".
The group task -Provides guidance and support.
-Monitors progress and intervenes, if necessary.
-Works collaboratively with peers.
-Completes assigned tasks.
The maintenance of a professional portfolio -Provides guidance, advice and support.
-Discusses the content of the portfolio on a weekly basis
-Maintains the portfolio on a regular basis, ensuring that it provides evidence of progress and achievement.
Written and practical assignment activities -Provides activities and offers guidance, advice and support.
-Provides feed-back to the trainees.
-Completes assignments on time.
-Engages in reflective discussion with the mentor.

6. Assessment and Certification

In order to be awarded the Via Lingua Certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, all trainees must commit themselves to meeting the following requirements:

  • Attend all required workshop sessions
  • Complete all assignments required by the trainers
  • Successfully complete a teaching practice program
  • Demonstrate a prescribed level of competence in relation to each of the five components (pedagogy theory, language awareness, teaching skills, cultural awareness and life skills) as measured against the Via Lingua Framework for Personal and Professional Standards (FPPS)

At Via Lingua, we seek to gain an accurate picture of each trainee's skill levels, achievement levels and progress. In order to realize this objective, we have developed a range of assessment strategies and tools, all of which involve a combination of self assessment, teacher assessment and peer assessment.

There are six formal assessment activities in which all trainees are required to participate (accompanied by an indication of weighting in relation to certification):

  1. 1. Observed and assessed teaching practice with groups of EFL students
  2. 2. The Individual Student Teaching Project
  3. 3. The final test
  4. 4. The personal and professional portfolio
  5. 5. The Group Project
  6. 6. Attendance

The personal and professional portfolio acts as a progress log and is a very significant element in the assessment process.

All trainees who spend time in a Via Lingua Study center are required to establish and maintain a personal and professional portfolio. The portfolio acknowledges and celebrates previously developed skills, talents and achievements, as well any additional ones developed during the stay at the center.

Through reference to the set of standardized statements, contained in the Via Lingua Framework for Personal and Professional Standards (FPPS), the portfolio enables the individual to record achievements, as well as to identify "growth points". It is the basis for each student to negotiate an appropriate study program when s/he arrives at the study center. In addition to its primary use as a record of achievement, certain sections of the portfolio may be used for assessment purposes when determining whether certification will be recommended.

A student is responsible for demonstrating his / her competence in relation to the statements contained in the FPPS, through the medium of the portfolio.

Assessment Tools
Assessment Activity Coverage of strands Weighting Credits available Grade Scale
Observed and Assessed Teaching Practice with groups Teaching skills
Pedagogy Theory
Language Awareness
Cultural Awareness
Life Skills
36% 0-36 31-36 Distinction
23-30 Merit
16-22 Pass
10-15 Refer
0-9 Fail
Individual Student Teaching Project (assessed assignment) Teaching skills
Pedagogy Theory
Language Awareness
Cultural Awareness
Life Skills
24% 0-24 20-24 Distinction
15-19 Merit
10-14 Pass
6-9 Refer
0-5 Fail
Final Test Language Awareness (sections 1-5)
Pedagogy theory (section 6)
24% 0-24 20-24 Distinction
15-19 Merit
10-14 Pass
6-9 Refer
0-5 Fail
Portfolio Life Skills
Teaching Skills
Pedagogy Theory
Cultural Awareness
Language Awareness
8% 0-8 7-8 Distinction
5-6 Merit
3-4 Pass
2 Refer
0-1 Fail
Group Project Cultural awareness
Life Skills
4% 0-4 4 Distinction
3 Merit
2 Pass
1 Refer
0 Fail
Attendance Life Skills 4% 0-4 4 Distinction
3 Merit
2 Pass
1 Refer
0 Fail

When calculating the final overall grade, there are five possible categories of award: distinction, merit, pass, refer and fail. The overall grade is calculated in the following way.

Award Descriptor Total Credits Grade equivalent
Distinction
(80-100%)
Outstanding 80-100 A
Merit
(60-79%)
Excellent 73-79 B+
67-72 B
60-66 B-
Pass
(45-59%)
Meets requirements 52-59 C
45-51 C+
Refer
(30-44%)
Meets most requirements
(bare pass)
40-44 C-
Fails to meet a number of requirements
(bare fail)
35-39 D+
Fails to meet many requirements
(fail)
30-34 D
Fail
(0-29%)
Fails to meet most or all requirements 0-29 E

 

  • For further information, please contact info@vialingua.org, call toll-free in the US (888) 835-6207 or in the UK (44) 203-004-0943.
  • To request an information pack either by email or regular mail, please use our infopack request form.
  • If you would like a member of our staff to call you at your home, at a time convenient to you, in order to discuss any particular queries you may have before making a decision about where and whether you take a TEFL course, please fill out a callback request form.
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