Day 1: Getting ready to start the ITTT 120-hour online TEFL Course (Introduction)

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An outline of why I’m taking the ITTT course

So I’ve decided to go ahead and get my 120-hour ITTT online TEFL certificate so I can do an honest and detailed review of the units on the ITTT online TEFL course, the quality of the support on the ITTT course and how the course will prepare people for their start to life as a qualified English teacher, or for those that want to brush up on their existing skills and experience of teaching English and also to strengthen their CV with further ELT academic qualifications.

I’ve chosen to review the ITTT online 120-hour TEFL course as this seems to be one of the better online TEFL courses available out there and also because the 120-hour course is the most popular with teachers looking at online course options.

I live and work in China, and a 120-hour TEFL course is the minimum to qualify for a working permit here (in addition to a university degree). Although a 60-hour TEFL course is good option as a gentle intro into teaching or for those on a budget, it isn’t wise to take the 60-hour course if you want to work overseas; you’ll want to choose a 120-hour course at the very least. Longer online TEFL course lengths are available from ITTT for professional ESL teachers looking to really make an impact with their resume when job hunting and for their own professional development. For a detailed introduction about me and why I’m taking this online TEFL course, then you can read my previous blog post.

Getting Started on the ITTT 120-Hour Online (with video support)

Ok, so I’m all paid up and set to go on my online TEFL course. I received an email from ITTT with a link and my logins to the online portal for the course containing all the online TEFL materials, videos and tests. The ITTT online TEFL home page was clearly laid out with the following sections:

  • Home: Takes users back to the Home Page for easy navigation

  • Units: This is the page where teacher trainees on the course will be interacting the most; the main ‘bread and butter’ of the TEFL course. It has all of your downloadable course content and PDF’s to read online or download.

  • Tests: You need to study each unit on the TEFL course one-by-one and then take a test at the end of each unit. Your ITTT online TEFL course tests can be found on this page.

  • Results: You can look back on all of your progress so far and what you’ve scored on each test throughout the duration of the course. By the end of the TEFL course, you’ll need to have hit a minimum average pass mark of 75%.

  • Videos: Your self-help videos are here which help you to understand the content of each unit more clearly and in an engaging way. These TEFL course videos should certainly help ITTT course participants to ace the course.

  • Contact: ITTT contact pages

What the Home Page and navigation looks like on the ITTT online course

What the Home Page and navigation looks like on the ITTT online course

Logging into the ITTT online portal and first impressions

I logged in and, first things first, spent a few minutes on the FAQ’s section. This gave me all I needed to know about the course. There were 30 questions on the ITTT 120-hour TEFL Course FAQ’s and each answer was clear and concise, with just a few sentences or a short paragraph to clearly explain the answer, very painless to read and understand.

The ITTT 120-hour TEFL Course Content

There are 20 units on the ITTT TEFL course and each unit must be finished before the next unit is available to you. After you’ve read through the online content to each (you can elect to download the PDF on each unit, so you can read it offline - this is what I’m going to do), you take an end of unit task sheet designed to really summarize and to consolidate what you’ve learned in the unit, and then following this, you click on the Test tab and officially take the unit test for the unit you’re on.

Here are the 20 units on the ITTT 120-hour online TEFL course. The units have been designed to give you the main building blocks to give you an effective base of knowledge to be an English teacher. The first units are in BLACK, which means you can click and open them. The rest of the units are in GREY, which means they are locked and you can’t open them. Once, you’ve completed reading a unit and submitted the final test for grading, then the next unit becomes available for you to open.

Introductory Unit

The introductory unit gives a brief overview of what to expect throughout the rest of this course. It covers the aims and content of the course, as well as advice on how to complete it successfully.

Unit 1: Teachers and Learners

In the first full unit of the course we look at different aspects of being a teacher and a learner.
We examine the qualities that make a good teacher and the different roles they perform in the classroom, as well as various issues regarding the language student.

Unit 2: Parts of Speech

Unit 3: Theories, Methods and Techniques

Unit 4: Present Tenses

Unit 5: Managing Classes

Unit 6: Past Tenses

Unit 7: Teaching New Language

Unit 8: Future Tenses

Unit 9: Lesson Planning

Unit 10: Video Lessons

Unit 11: Teaching Receptive Skills

Unit 12: Teaching Productive Skills

Unit 13: Teaching Pronunciation & Phonology

Unit 14: Course Books and Lesson Materials

Unit 15: Evaluation and Testing

Unit 16: Conditionals & Reported Speech

Unit 17: Equipment and Teaching Aids

Unit 18: Modals, Phrasal Verbs and Passive Voice

Unit 19: Teaching Special Groups

Unit 20: Troubleshooting

Taking the ITTT unit tests

After each ITTT course unit, take the quick unit task sheet to make sure that you’ve grasped the key concepts of what the unit has been teaching you. Once you’re happy, click on the Test tab to begin your test.

The test is made up of multiple choice questions and you’ll have quite a number of these to work through. At the end of the questions, have a quick read through in case you’ve made a glaring error and when you’re happy, submit your test!

You’ll be looking for a mark above 75% (remember that the average pass mark for the whole ITTT online TEFL course is 75%, so dipping below this will mean you’ll need to make it up in other unit tests. Make sure you’re happy with your understanding of each unit before beginning the test.

Once submitted, you’ll get to know how you scored immediately and this score will then be put onto your online TEFL course progress tracker. You can only do each test once, so if you mess up, its permanent! Make sure you do as well in each ITTT unit test as you can.

And don’t dilly dally doing the test either; if you take too long doing the test, then the page may time out and you’ll have to start back at question 1. Passing each ITTT online TEFL course unit test with flying colours shouldn’t be a problem as long as you’ve done the reading that comes with each unit.

The suggested time for each unit is 5 hours study + 1 hour on your unit task sheet. 6 hours x 20 units is 120 hours, but I’m going to see if I can take in the online material faster and will let you know how I got on with this approach (remember that I’ve been teaching for 15 years though and this speedy approach isn’t recommended for new teachers; take your time to understand what each unit is saying to you!)

Passing the ITTT 120-hour online TEFL course and getting your certificate

To pass the online TEFL course, you’ll need to have completed all 20 units of the course in order and submitted all 20 unit tests with an average pass mark above 75% (I’m targeting myself to get above 90% just as a personal goal; I don’t want to simply scrape by!)

In addition to passing all 20 unit tests, you also need to write a 500-1000 word summative task where you’ll talk openly about what you’ve learnt on the course. This summative task will be assessed by ITTT tutors and their final mark given after two working days. If the online course tutors feel that your summative task isn’t good enough, then you will get a maximum of two more goes at it, although one go should be enough for the majority of teachers; you should pass this first time.

In the FAQ’s, it does say that ‘if you don’t get 75% in your unit tests, then you’ll have to contact us to look into other ways’, what this means exactly I’m not sure and will be asking. My guess is that you may have to pay extra, so try to get above 75% to avoid this.

Getting your ITTT online TEFL certificate

After completing the TEFL course with a score of over 75% and with a satisfactory summative test, then your ITTT 120-hour TEFL certificate will be dispatched to you in the post, usually taking 2-4 weeks to reach you, depending on where you live. If you live in places like China or Korea, where English isn’t used for postal address, then you’ll need to email ITTT with the address in your local language. Standard postage is free and part of your ITTT TEFL course fee. Should you wish your certificate to arrive faster, then you can pay $60 extra and you’ll have it in around 3-4 days.

General first impressions of the course

Having looked at the course units and the seriousness in which ITTT take this course and testing, my early feelings is that this online TEFL course is really going to prepare new English teachers well for a new start in ESL teaching. There are many online TEFL courses which are solely designed to make money for the company designing the tests with little care about the quality of the content and how prepared teachers are doing the course; the ITTT online TEFL courses aren’t like this. From early impressions, ITTT are serious about the quality of their courses and how effective you will be as an English teacher and how seriously schools will view you holding an ITTT online TEFL certificate.

I begin Unit 1 tomorrow!!

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by Stuart Allen

TEFL Lemon