3 days! My part 1 DipTESOL exam is in three days time. I’m reading, cramming and just hoping that it all goes in but wish I’d done it all sooner. It’s a bit late now!

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To be honest, I’m not sure how to revise and I find myself jumping from one method to another; making notes, highlighting a text, listening to a podcast, drawing a diagram, putting post-its all around my room…

I thought I knew what my preferred learning style was, but now I realise I need a variety of different ways to re-read, review and rework. Is this what my students do? It feels like a scattergun approach – and no that’s not another one to add to the list of PPP, ARC, ESA…

My head is swimming with acronyms and terminology. I can still see them when I close my eyes and yet I’m struggling to find some way to make it stick.

‘Make it stick’ – is that a fixed expression/collocation/multi-word verb?

Help! Now I’m using a lot of hyphens – is that ok? They are definitely overused across social media these days.

On the plus side, at least I can empathise with my students. I understood all of this content when we discussed it in class, but will I be able to recall it when I need it. Some terms are so similar, I’m getting them a bit muddled. My brain feels full. I’m not sure there’s room for any new information. And that’s just the ‘key vocabulary’ as it were.

My essay structure needs a bit of work too. Topic sentences, linkers…How many times have I taught lessons about cohesion, and yet did I even consciously think about that in my mock exam? I know I answered a question about it, which is quite ironic really! And I know that if I’d had the chance to rewrite my essays, they would have been so much better. But I won’t get second chances in the exam this week. I’ll barely get 5 minutes to plan for each question. Absolutely no chance of time to edit my work. What’s more, I’ll probably be distracted by the aches in my hand because the thought of writing for three hours without a break fills me with dread.

I digress. Here’s my main message.

I chose to do the DipTESOL over the DELTA simply because of course availability and cost. I spent quite some time weighing up the pros and cons, but in the end, I chose what was practical for my personal situation.

It has been and will continue to be a great learning experience. I’ve enjoyed it, for the most part. However, it has made me look very critically at my teaching style and subject knowledge. Even though I’ve come to terms with modals not being verbs, I’m still not confident how I will teach an idea that contradicts the textbooks and the way students have learned the language. If it’s hard for me to unlearn and reformulate my thinking, then I’m sure it will be for the students too. Tackling that one is a work in progress.

This course has pushed me to the point where my confidence in my teaching skills dropped dramatically. I began to doubt and second guess everything I was doing. Don’t worry. I’m building myself back up again and I feel more confident than ever about how I manage my class, my planning, the resources and my teaching practice.

I’m not going to lie, doing the Dip is stressful! But maybe that’s also because I’m dealing with a lot of stressful things in my personal life too. Sometimes life has a habit of changing all our good intentions. I had intended to study hard but instead found I was dealing with a court case against my ex, a father having a heart operation, at the same time as trying to sell my house… and my course mates too all had different issues to deal with. That’s just life, but the Dip for me is a springboard to a better future; a chance to move forward with my career. Reminding myself of that is what helps to drive me forward.

The advice I’d give to other prospective dippers or delta-ers is the same that was given to me. Read! But here’s the bit where I’m hoping to add value to that comment:

  • Read about Krashen’s hypotheses on Second Language Acquisition
  • Find out about Gardner’s multiple intelligences
  • Watch Underhill’s video about pronunciation
  • Get to grips with The English Verb by Michael Lewis because it may change the way you think about grammar
  • Study linguistics on a MOOC like FutureLearn
  • Try out some of John Field’s approaches to Listening in the Language Classroom
  • Sign up to receive new posts from the Cambridge English dictionary blog
  • Look carefully at the textbooks you use and think about when, if and why you adapt them
  • Try italki or Verbling and put yourself in your students’ shoes to see what the learning side of teaching is like
  • Do all this BEFORE you sign up to your course.

Most importantly, form your own opinions on what you’re seeing, hearing and doing (did you like my subtle use of VAK-related language?) and learn to justify them (them being an anaphoric reference to the opinions).

Sorry, I’m in language analysis mode again 🙂