This post was written by Susan Weymouth

As a CELTA instructor, I always follow up courses by asking which aspects of the course the trainees found most valuable. Without question, the element that is cited by the great majority as the most worthwhile part of the course is the hands-on teaching practice. No matter what the age, life experience, or academic history of participants, practice teaching with real English language learners is always a process of self-discovery.

Consider the elements involved. A trainee decides what he wants to teach and prepares a plan to help his students reach that learning objective. He selects and creates any needed materials. He gives the lesson to his students – with all its tiny triumphs and shortcomings – in front of his trainer and several of his peers. His students succeed or fail, progress or flounder. After the lesson, the pre-service teacher reflects on his work and listens to feedback from others. Then he encourages and suggests alternatives to the other trainees whom he observed teaching that day. I can assure you that this level of scrutiny is emotionally and physically exhausting and exhilarating. Finally, the next day or the day after that, the trainee repeats the process of practice teaching until the course closes.

If it is not possible for you to participate in an on-site course with guided teaching practice, I urge you to generate a similar learning experience through exchanging observations with peers or mentors at your school. It will jump start your professional abilities. If you can take part in an on-site course, be sure to look for programs that feature guided teaching practice. Stand and deliver. Reflect and improve.