It has been almost three months since I started my Trinity DipTESOL studies. How have I been doing? It’s hard to answer this question. We are already well into the course, and I have been learning many things I couldn’t have encountered without this course. At the same time, I feel out of my comfort zone, which usually results in feeling “inadequate” for most people. I am not an exception.
When you try something new, you are often reminded of how much you don’t know rather than how much you are learning. I felt the same when I started my mindfulness studies two years ago, so thankfully, the demons that tell me I am not enough are quite familiar to me. I know how to quieten them, but sometimes I succumb to despair. Entering one’s growth zone is a thorny process, after all!
Practical advice for DipTESOL candidates
I am not good at following others’ advice because everyone has unique learning styles that work best for them, and there’s always a learning curve at the beginning of new studies. Therefore, what works for me might not work for you. My advice might even be counterproductive, so take it with a grain of salt. However, if you are still reading this, that means you are extremely curious about different study techniques, which is excellent!
At the beginning of the course, we were told to be organized. I can’t emphasize the importance of this advice. Whether you are a DipTESOL candidate or learning something entirely different, you need to be organized to feel confident and defeat those demons that tell you you aren’t good enough.
Let me elaborate on the positive correlation between organizational skills and confidence. When I organize things (as in categorizing modules, creating tags, and jotting down notes), I feel productive even if my work sometimes doesn’t amount to much. Getting something done boosts my confidence and propels me to study more as opposed to not getting anything done, which brings me to the following advice.
I am a stickler for rules and completeness of things. If I can’t finish my homework or reading assignment in one sitting, I tend to feel down and give up more quickly. The fear of not immediately completing things prevents me from starting, and guess what? When I don’t start doing something, I never know if I can finish it! This vicious cycle can be toxic when studying, so I recommend starting from somewhere rather than waiting for the moment you feel like you can complete everything at once.
In my case, I have several things to do every week: forum tasks, reading and viewing, live lessons, and weekly assignments. Given the amount of work I have to get done weekly, I can’t afford to wait for the study muse. So I usually start with seemingly easy tasks, such as watching a video or reading a short article, and then build my way up to more challenging tasks, such as reading longer articles, participating in forum discussions, and doing weekly assignments.
Don’t compare yourself to others
Comparison is such a facile trap every learner falls into. I have been teaching since 2016, so I have quite a few achievements and failures. But can you guess which ones I remember more effortlessly in the face of difficulties? Of course, my failures! And when I recall the most unfavorable moments in my teaching career, I compare myself to others.
I believe the best way to avoid comparison is to constantly remind ourselves of our strengths and how far we have come in this life. I also keep in mind that I only need to compete against myself and measure my growth without comparing it to anyone else’s. Does a flower compare itself to another flower and say, “Ohh, it bloomed earlier than me?”
Detect your weak areas
I have been studying for DipTESOL with a group of people from all around the world. I have colleagues from North Africa, South America, Europe, and Asia. Because we all teach in different settings, our abilities and weak areas vary, too. For example, I teach junior and senior high school students, while some only teach adults or young learners. I feel confident in task-based learning activities, but my phonology skills aren’t up to scratch.
Tackling phonology seemed like a Herculean task initially. However, I knew I had to work on it sooner than later, so I spent more time working on the phonetic alphabet and practicing the physicality of sounds. I may not have mastered phonology yet, but I am improving and can read and write English words using IPA now. So, tackle your weak areas as soon as possible to get them out of the way.
Procrastination isn’t your friend
I remember an article claiming procrastinators are more intelligent than others. That might be true in other settings, but people with DipTESOL or those working towards it will advise you otherwise. There is always work to do when you study something as intense as DipTESOL (or DELTA, for that matter). The longer you delay your assignment, the bigger it gets.
As a young student, I was averse to people who did their homework as soon as possible. I only wanted to play games and study whenever I wanted. Because of that, I crammed all my studies into my last year to catch up with everything and was highly overwhelmed before the university entrance exam. Whenever I feel like procrastinating, I remember my senior high school year and ensure I finish at least one thing before taking a break.
Don’t compromise on your joy
Yes, I have much to do, but I still travel hardcore and don’t compromise on my joy. Studying doesn’t mean you must quit your social life or hobbies. On the contrary, we tend to resent our studies or work when they prevent us from enjoying our lives. If my DipTESOL studies didn’t allow me to travel, read, or write blog posts, I highly doubt I would continue pursuing my postgrad studies.
I found what worked best for me. I can’t study two days in a row, so I study one day and then take a break another day. Remember that you need to spend at least ten to fifteen hours a week on your studies, so if you follow my method, you must spend at least five hours a day studying on your allocated study days. I do that because I am quickly engrossed in studying when I know I will travel or do something I like the next day.
Postgraduate studies are challenging everywhere —especially when done online and asynchronously. If you plan to embark on this journey or have already been studying for DipTESOL, I respect your decision. It means you are determined to better yourself as a teacher and care about personal and professional development. What I wrote in this blog applies to all kinds of online studies, though, so if something resonates with you or helps you, I will be more than happy. Good luck with your studies!
Have you ever studied online? What advice can you give to others reading this?
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