A day in the life of a TEFL trainee


How a typical day on a TEFL course looks

Tuesday week 3

7:45am – The alarm goes off, and it’s time get showered and make coffee. I forgot to get bread yesterday, but since the bakery is just one step away from my apartment, I pop out and treat myself to a pastry. I think that subconsciously I may have done it deliberately as my bakery sells the most incredible croissants and tartes aux framboises that I have ever had! I still have time for breakfast. No rush, I’m only a 15 minute walk away from the TEFL centre.

9:15am – I arrive at the TEFL centre, and have another coffee and a quick chat with my fellow trainees.

9:30am – Morning input starts. We start with a lesson on how to exploit textbooks and then another session on how to do this with authentic materials like brochures and menus. I really enjoyed that session as it showed me that nearly anything can be used to teach English, no need to stick to academic books. Second part of the morning was about teaching students phrasal verbs. Definitely trickier than expected, glad to learn about it before I have to teach it on my own!

1pm – Lunch break. I don’t feel like eating in, and I haven’t brought anything. Today I feel like Vietnamese, so myself and two others head to the Vietnamese food stand 5 minutes’ walk away, order a take away and eat in the park opposite the centre. Good time to relax in the sun, and share our thoughts about the morning session. Time also to make plans for Saturday. We’ll have a car and we still can’t decide whether to drive to the Mediterranean Sea, or go for a hike in the mountains, both are only 1.5 hours away! I head back a bit earlier than them as I still want to go over the lesson I’m delivering this afternoon.

Lesson planning on the TEFL course

2:30 – I’m pretty happy about my lesson plan for the intermediate group I’m teaching at 4pm, but I’m still unsure about my final activity. I want to make sure my students get really excited and talk a lot, and I’m sure I can make it more fun and lively. Judith, one of the two experienced teachers here this afternoon, is here to help me out. I figure out with her help that if I make my activity a bit more competitive they’ll get super motivated. All set now!

Teaching a lesson and post-lesson feedback on the TEFL course

4pm – Here I am, I’m teaching! I’m a bit stressed but it’s the third lesson I’m teaching so I’m already more confident. I’m making sure that I’m giving very good instructions for activities this time, as it was one of my weaknesses – I always said things like “come up with” instead of “write down”! Things are going quite smoothly and students seem to enjoy the topic.

5:10pm – Teaching done. I feel pretty good about it and I’m definitely more relaxed now. I’m sitting and watching another trainee delivering a lesson. I have to listen with care as I have to give feedback after the lesson. I really like the way he’s introduced the topic with a cheesy video!

6:10pm – Debrief time. We all sit down and Judith gives us feedback. In turns we are invited to give our opinion on our own lesson, the highlights and then the items for improvement, and on the lesson we’ve observed.

7:00pm – The day is over! Well, not exactly. A few people of my group are heading to the Black Lion bar for a quick drink on their way home, but I’m starving and I need want to work on planning my one to one lesson on Thursday. I don’t want to have to rush into writing the learner profile essay, and I certainly don’t want to have too much to do on my last weekend in Toulouse. From what I’ve seen so far it’s a wonderful city and I don’t want to miss out. I’m heading home and start cooking dinner. Nice to get some French cuisine advice from my host, she’s showing me how to make baked camembert! I didn’t believe it but French food really is on another level to anything I have ever had in other countries!

8:45 – Let’s get to work! I have no idea what I’m going to teach my “one to one” student. I have a quick browse on the internet, and decide to do a lesson on real estate. She told me she was thinking about buying a Bed and Breakfast in Ireland when she retires so it would be very useful to her. It’s going to be mostly about vocab, but I can also teach her some set phrases to buy or rent accommodation, do a role play, and allow her to ask me lots of questions. One to one lessons are definitely less formal and more chatty…

12am – Yes! I’m really happy about my lesson. I’ve not finished, but the topic is good and I only have to add bits, and print the cut-outs. Time for a well-deserved sleep, and plan that weekend up the road in Bordeaux!


It’s a busy course with busy days, but SOOO much fun. You can see that the mornings are spent looking at TEFL theory, eg the grammar rules and how to teach grammar, pronunciation and how to teach it, how to improve your students’ ability in “the 4 skills” (reading writing speaking and listening), as well as things like how to teach exam classes, young learners, business groups., exam classes…. The afternoons are spent planning your lessons (you will teach 2 lessons a week usually) with the help of the trainers, and then teaching or observing other trainees, and getting feedback.

There is nothing complex to learn, but do you think you can handle it?

Dimitri Tassigny, Certified by TEFL Toulouse, April 2017

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