Editor’s note: This article was updated March 5th, 2018. Dedicated to all of our students success, ITA Nicaragua goes above and beyond to make sure that each individual student not only becomes a capable and professional EFL/ESL teacher that is confident in the classroom, but also that they have an amazing experience here in Nicaragua in the process.
Before you even book your trip to Leon for your 4 week TEFL course, you will receive a great deal of support from your admissions adviser and the student affairs department here in Leon, Nicaragua. During those first conversations you will learn more about the course, what to expect, and how to prepare in advance. The student affairs department will also help you find housing that best fits your needs, assist you with transportation from the airport to Leon, and preorder you course book. They can even help you with assist with proof of onward travel if needed.
Next you will be invited to attend a live pre-course webinar about two or three weeks in advance of your 4 week TEFL course start date. Here you are introduced to the course calendar, web-based platforms such as Moodle and the Google Drive, and some of the assignments you will complete during your course. After your webinar, you will have the opportunity to read the first weeks chapters, and take the quizzes before you even arrive. This is done to reduce the stress of the first week so that you can concentrate on learning all the new methodologies and procedures involved in your TEFL class.
Once you arrive in Leon you will head to your housing and get settled in. If you are a 4 week TEFL Student and staying in one of ITAN’s recommended housing you can expect to be greeted with a welcome package that gets you started with the essentials you need to start exploring. Next, you are invited to attend a meet and greet/orientation/tour of Las Peñitas/dinner and drinks which happens the Friday before each course. The meet and greet is a fun event that includes your new classmates, staff members, and alumni. During the meet and greet you will learn about cultural norms, safety, the best places to eat and many more secrets of Leon, Las Peñitas and Poneloya.
After the meet and greet there is a tour of where you can buy groceries at the beach, where to catch the buses into town, the best restaurants and bars in the area, etc. After the tour, we finish at a popular restaurant with other alumni/staff members for dinner and drinks. During that first weekend before class starts most students go into town, tour the Cathedral, visit the museum, or stay near the beach and take a surf lesson!
Typical class day. Monday is the first day of class which will begin at 11:00 am. Teacher trainees can expect to have action packed days in the classroom and nights of completing group work, reading, quizzes, and assignments. (On average, most people have 12 – 15 hours of homework per week.) During the week you will receive support from your instructors including time built into your 11:00-6:00 schedule where you can receive one on one support time with your instructors. You will also be at the school in the mornings from 8:45-10:45 on days when you are scheduled to observe and teach ESL classes to fulfill your practicum.
We also provide a great deal of extra support during most days, especially the Friday of week 1 and 3. The first Friday of week 1, you will have a study hall day, where both of our professors will be available for you to ask questions, get help with lesson plans, etc. They are there to help you. We have received some amazing feedback from past classes who say that this extra support has helped them and set a positive tone for the rest of the course.
The Friday of week 3 you will have completely off. Most students take advantage of traveling to other cities or beach towns around the country with their classmates and alumni. Other students simply catch up, or work ahead on their assignments and projects.
“I think one of the most beneficial pieces of the course was the practice teaching, and the various group projects we had to complete.” Shelby Seavers July 2014. Check out Shelby’s Q&A video.
Student teaching and your learner profile. Each student has a unique student teaching or practicum teaching schedule. You will have your student teaching, or practicum 8 mornings here at our campus. During week one, you will observe our professors twice in different levels teaching the local Nicaraguans using the same methodologies and activities that you will be learning during your class. This is to help you contextualize what you will be doing in your own classroom. The following 6 times, you will then teach a two, one hour lessons to beginner, intermediate, and advanced level Nicaraguan EFL students. This will take place over the following three weeks of your course, on a rotational basis. During each of your six practice teaching sessions, you will have one of our professors observe your individual performance, evaluate your performance, and give you invaluable feedback the following business day.
For your learner profile, or final project, you and a partner will be assigned a Nicaraguan EFL student. You will then take what you have learned in the course and give them an assessment. From that assessment, you will create a custom lesson plan for this individual using the four skills of foreign language learning: listening, reading, writing, and speaking. You and your partner will present your findings to the class during week 4 of your class.
On top of all that, you will have to read a chapter a night, and have on average 15 hours of homework per week. Week two is by far the most difficult, and it is possible to be working until 12:00 am or 1:00 am in the morning! (Now you see why we do so much preparation with you before the course!) Between your assignments, quizzes, writing lesson plans, and your learner profile project, you will busy for a month. Period.
As the first TEFL training center in the country, our evening classes with our local Nicaraguan neighbors are very popular. They love that they receive such professional classes, and they also love meeting people from all over the world, just like you. It is normal to be nervous, but rest assured, Nicaraguan people are extremely kind and respectful, especially towards teachers. Who knows, you just might make a friend, and hang out with them at salsa night right across the street from our campus!
This class has to be intensive because you are learning a skill set like no other and preparing for a very important career – in only 4 weeks. However, trainees still have tons of fun getting to know each other and the Nicaraguan culture. The TEFL academy organizes events every weekend of the class that students and alumni are both invited to. There are dinners, pool parties, volcano boarding, game nights, potlucks, salsa nights, cathedral tours and endless activities for you to take part in. Each month is different but if you stay in Leon/Las Peñitas as an ITAN alumni you are always welcome to join events. This is an excellent way for you to make friends, and network here with people just like you.
After four short weeks and some very rewarding accomplishments it is time for graduation! Our graduation event is like no other! For graduation all current students and alumni are invited, and have lunch and drinks at a beautiful boutique hotel in Las Penitas, walking distance from our campus. We spend the day reminiscing about your class, and all of the funny moments from the last four weeks. Students share their future plans and discuss where they plan on going next. Often times entire classes will stay the weekend at the beach to spend one last adventure together as a group.
Just because your course has ended does not mean that your adventure has. In fact it has just begun. Alumni who stay in Nicaragua often return to ITAN events including the meet and greet, graduation, and they often live, work, and travel together. Our Alumni Network reaches to all corners of the globe, and as an Alumni you are plugged into a support network of like minded individuals all over the world. More on our job search guidance assistance
Don’t take our word for it. Check out what Clara has to say about our course, and teaching English in Nicaragua.