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Student Story: Niina’s Experience in VGC’s TESL Program

By Niina Okumura

Here at VGC we have helped thousands of students to reach their English language goals. Our students come from a variety of different countries and have diverse backgrounds. We are excited to share some of their stories on the VGC Blog.

Niina is a 21-year-old student from Japan. She studied at VGC for half a year in 2018 and 2019 and took our Global English, University Preparation, and TESL Diploma courses while she was enrolled with us. Before coming, she was in the third grade at her university in Japan and having some doubts about her teaching and wanted to expand on her experience from what she had learned in Japan. She learned of our TESL program so she decided to come to Canada to improve her language and teaching skills in the hopes of bringing back with her some new knowledge.

I had reservations about language schools. I assumed that it was impossible to teach English without using the learners’ mother tongue. I became interested in how English is taught “in English”.  I also heard that almost all English teachers in Canada take a TESL course before becoming teachers.  At VGC, the course was only four or five weeks, so I thought I could learn some specific skills during this short, but intensive period of time.

During the instructional section of the course, we learned teaching skills in detail: how to teach reading, listening, writing, speaking, grammar, and even vocabulary.  Each area has a different way and approach to teaching.  We also learned classroom management, how to give instructions, feedback, and we even learned some different approaches to linguistics, such as phonology and second language acquisition.  As a part of the course, we also had a chance to observe some actual classes and then try some of the techniques we learned by doing mini-presentations.  I liked being able to put what I saw and learned into practice.   All the theories or skills I learned were new to me, but I soon learned that they were effective ways to teach English.  It was easy to understand the different methods and put them into use in my own practice.

Following the instructional part of the course, I completed a practicum in my fifth week.  I actually taught English to VGC students, which was so exciting!  That week was the hardest week, but also worth it.  Every day I had at least one block to try my lesson plan and some skills I acquired in the first four weeks of the program. I could test my lesson plan and teaching techniques, to see what worked and didn’t work, and discuss my strengths and areas of improvement with my practicum teacher.  Different unexpected challenges came up, which was a big difference from the mini-presentation in the certificate course. Thanks to those unexpected questions or student responses, I realized where I needed to improve and then brush up on my skills. My practicum teacher, Jola, was so patient and really helped me with good feedback to help me improve.

I think VGC International College is the only place to bring together theory and techniques in detail and give lots of opportunities to use them.  It is really challenging because we just only had four weeks to acquire all the information and one week to actually use the different techniques.  Thank you to Curtis for such a wonderful learning experience.  I will definitely utilize what I learned in TESL when I become an English teacher.


Are you interested in teaching English abroad or in Canada?

VGC offers TESL programs in Vancouver on selected start dates throughout the year. We are still accepting applications for our upcoming intakes on May 6th and July 29th.

Contact if you have any questions or would like to learn more about admission requirements and promotional offers.