Peter is currently an EAL/D teacher in the intensive unit at Dakabin High. He did the teacher course in 2012. He used it as a subject in his TESOL university degree.
A few years ago, I did the TESMC course, and have found it most useful and practical. At the time I was not actually teaching ESL students, though I was studying TESOL with the intention of moving into that area. I was, in fact, at the time a mainstream teacher of Humanities and English though now I am teaching beginner EAL students in an Intensive English Unit. These teaching situations are quite different, yet I have found the material from the TESMC course equally applicable.
The course thoroughly explores how culture shapes language, but many of the strategies are equally helpful to ESL and Mainstream students alike. An ability to recognise generic features required and a knowledge of context and register and how it influences text production are a few of the topics covered; and I have found in my teaching that imparting these understandings to students empowers and equips them for success. It is simply good pedagogy, but often we assume such understandings rather than explicitly teaching them. The course is a good reminder that such assumptions are flawed when working with EAL students… and many mainstream students too!
Module 2 of the TESMC course examines the role of scaffolding in learning. While I was already using forms of scaffolding, the course equipped me to feel confident about its use. Fierce conversations were had over how much is too much scaffolding, and when to “pull back”. Philosophically, we examined how scaffolding is not “cheating” but levelling the playing field. These concepts are at the core of differentiation for ESL students in the mainstream.
Also of on-going value to my teaching were concepts explored in module 8 about assessing written texts. How do we choose a suitable text? Are we confident that we have chosen the correct text level (bandscale) for our students? What makes a text more or less demanding? What elements are we looking for when we assess student text samples? Working through these issues in the course was of on-going worth.
Many courses I have done were either overly theoretical or simplistic. I would recommend the TESMC course because it finds the happy middle ground. While units are embedded in current pedagogical theory (wait for the homework readings!), discussions are very practical. The participant walks away with a quiver full of strategies and ideas that can be immediately applied in the classroom…. In fact, one is encouraged between modules to experiment with these strategies and report back to colleagues at the course. These discussions with colleagues also provided rich professional learning. If you want a course of on-going worth, I believe TESMC is it.