How did you get started teaching English?
Growing up in Iran, I had to learn English as a foreign language because English is not taught in schools in Iran. But from the very beginning, I realized that if I wanted to open new doors in my life and my future, I needed to learn English. I was 18 or 19 when I started to go to university and found my first job as an English teacher at a training center in Iran. [This is when] I realized that teaching was the job that I am very passionate about, and I wanted to share what I learned as a student with other English language learners.
How did you hear about TEACH-NOW?
My wife and I came to Shanghai in 2015 with Teaching Nomad and signed up for their in-class TEFL course. We had 120-hour in-class training and learned different approaches and skills that we could apply in the classroom. The market for young learners is in high demand in China, and I got my first job as a homeroom teacher in a kindergarten. I have been here for 4 years now, and I really love the experience that I have been given.
I realized that I needed [to take the next step] in my professional career. I was looking for more courses or Master’s programs that could help me raise the bar of my teaching abilities and move me forward in my career. [This is when] Teaching Nomad introduced me to their partner program, TEACH-NOW.
What was your experience like earning a teaching license online?
I started working towards my teaching license in August 2017. From the beginning, I was worried that the program was going to be a challenge for me, as I am a full-time teacher. However, TEACH-NOW is designed so that full-time teachers can attend the virtual classes at a time that works for them. In my cohort, there were experienced teachers from all over the world including the U.S., Vietnam, Thailand, and China. It helped a lot that most of us were in similar time zones so the cohort schedule worked for our specific work schedules.
What was the workload like during the program?
I would say that I spent an average of 10-15 hours a week on the TEACH-NOW program. Most of that time was spent watching videos and working on assignments, both alone and with my cohort members. The best part is that you can talk to instructors and ask them for help if you are having trouble with an assignment. The instructors are also teachers, so they are familiar with the challenges that all teachers face. I recommend that everyone stay in touch with the instructors because they are a great resource.
What was your favorite aspect of TEACH-NOW?
My favorite part of the online teaching course was applying technology in the classroom. I am pretty tech-savvy, so I always like to include technology in my lessons. TEACH-NOW gave me a new perspective on how to approach technology in the classroom to make learning and involvement more effective.
Along with that, you can always add on a Master’s program if you’d like to continue with your studies. There are five different Master’s opportunities and you won’t need to retake any classes. You have already finished those requirements in the first 9 months of the teaching license program! The Master’s program is only another 4 months, so you are able to obtain your license and your Master’s degree in one year!
Since you're from Iran where English is not the first language, was it hard for you to get into the program?
No, all I needed was a Bachelor’s degree to be accepted into the TEACH-NOW program. I had some previous teaching experience before I started which also helped in the application process. It was not a problem that I was from a non-English-speaking country. There were students from all over the world in my program, many were native English speakers, but others were teachers where English was not their first language.
Everyone can apply for the course because the program is designed so everyone can benefit, even non-native speakers. TEACH-NOW actually celebrates diversity among their candidates.
What were the PRAXIS exams like?
The PRAXIS exams are needed to obtain your teaching license. The PRAXIS I covers reading, writing, and mathematics from K-12 levels. For me, the hardest part was the math section. It took me 2 times to pass the test because you have a limited amount of time, and I needed to study harder for the math section. The math section doesn’t cover difficult math skills; however, it was a challenge, because I hadn’t been exposed to math in such a long time.
After the PRAXIS I, I took the PRAXIS II which is your specific subject test. This was much easier for me. I decided to get my license in English as a Second Language (ESL) which is my area of expertise. The test covered the theory and principles of teaching ESL. The good news is that 50% of what is on your PRAXIS exam will be covered during the online teaching license course. The other 50% is subject specific, so details of the ESL exam will differ from someone getting their license in history, for example.
Are you glad you earned your teaching license online?
I am so thrilled I did this course because I can see the differences in my teaching. I can see how the skills and theory have worked in my classroom and made me a better teacher. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to switch jobs or move to another country, but as an educator who wants to learn and grow, it is a great way to become a better teacher. Being a great teacher means that you must be a life-long learner.
[After completing the TEACH-NOW program], I got to become the academic advisor in my school and started a training program for new teachers in China. It has been a dream come true to become a teacher and to be able to work with and even train native-English speakers. It’s been a big achievement for me.
At the end of the day, you can choose to return to your home country and teach, change jobs, or stay where you are. This program gives you so many opportunities after getting your teaching license!