Preparing for courses

Topic Focus

To consider ways in which we can help candidates to prepare for their course.

45 minutes

Once candidates have accepted a place on the course, in order to retain them, it is essential that we inform them about what is happening. This is really important if a candidate has accepted a place, but the course doesn’t start for several months.

Task 1: Communication

Begin by making some notes on the following question. 

What information do you think should be included in any correspondence you have with candidates?

Listen to a trainer talking about what he thinks is important to consider when contacting potential trainees. Does he mention the same ideas as you?

Okay, so in response to the question, what information do you think should be included in any correspondence you have with candidates? Well, I think the following. I think it really, first of all depends on the course type. So first of all, consider the type of course you’re doing, and then obviously the information that you share with candidates will very much depend on the type of course. I think here’s a kind of generic list of things that you might want to share with your candidates. So, I think that before, you need to remind candidates what they need to do before the course, the course starts. So for example, do they need to purchase any books? Perhaps you’re using a book in the course and you want candidates to respond to, to, to do tasks, to do certain readings, or perhaps they have to purchase that book before the course. You might have given your course participants. you’re candidates some tasks to do before the course starts, or perhaps a gramma task. Perhaps they have to do some language analysis, perhaps they have to prepare something, perhaps they have to do some research to make sure that they know to do that before the course starts. Obviously, there are things like payment. You might not be involved in this, but for some of your courses, candidates probably will have to pay. So they will need to be reminded perhaps if they’ve not made full payments. And also, especially if you work at a university, as I do, candidates, uh our trainees on our courses perhaps have to do a registration process so that they can get a student card. So they need to be reminded to complete this. So these are some of the kind of logistical things they perhaps have to do beforehand.
You also want to remind your course participants about when the course actually begins. So what day is it? What’s the date, what’s the time, and things like that. Because, you know, this may be on your, on your website, you may have sent this information out already, but people tend to forget these things, so that’s something that you want to remind your course participants about. You also want to tell them where he actually takes place. So you might have your school and a certain address, but a teacher training course that you’re running might take place a different address, perhaps not at the school. So you need to remind them about that and obviously how to get to that place. Perhaps they might need to take a bus or tram, et cetera. Or obviously, if the course is online, you need to tell them how they can get online. How they can access that course? What VLE you’re using and things like that. So these are obviously, again, really important. This is really important information that you need to make available to your course participants. If, you know, if it’s face to face or actually all, if it’s online, you might also want to remind them about what they should bring with them. So do they need to bring a laptop? Do they need to bring pen and paper? Do they need to bring any books, any resources? Do they need to bring a lunch? Maybe there’s no where they can go to eat. Perhaps that’s something they can, they can bring with them. That also reminds me as well actually, something I didn’t mention, when you remind them about way the course is taking place, let’s say in a physical location, you might also want to tell them about parking. If they’re coming by car, can they park nearby? Do they have to pay, etc.
Okay, so what else? Why else do we need to remind our candidates about? Well, you need to probably send them a timetable. You know, the dates, the times of the course. So they can obviously plan ahead, plan, plan their life around this. So when, when the, when the session starts, when do they finish, what breaks take place, etc. You might also want to remind them or tell them about who else is on the course. So how many other candidates, how many other trainees are on the course. Perhaps you might want to tell them a bit about the other people on the course, but obviously, be aware here that there might be an issue with data protection. So at this stage you might not do that. However, I do think it’s worth telling your potential candidates, your trainees, about the other trainers on the course: who they are, what their roles are, what their experience is and things like that because obviously that can be a beak. That can be quite important. I think candidates want to know well, this tutors on the course, they’re very experienced and it gives them confidence.
And I think finally, you want to remind them about what’s expected of them. So obviously they need to arrive on time. They need to do all the homework. They need to do things by a certain date or deadline and things like that. So I think really overall, when we tell our candidate, or our trainees, about, about the course, we need to give them a quite a lot of information to make sure that their expectations are met and they know essentially what to expect when the course begins.

Depending on the course type, you may want to share the following: 

  • What candidates need to do beforehand (such as purchase any books; complete tasks; complete payment; complete any registration procedures)
  • When the course begins
  • Where the course takes place
  • How to get to the school or centre
  • If the course is online, how to access the course/which VLE to use
  • What they should expect on the first day
  • What they should bring with them
  • A timetable
  • Who is on the course (e.g. trainers and possible other trainees – but careful with data protection here though!)
  • What is expected of candidates.

Task 2: Pre-course materials

You may decide to send potential candidates tasks to complete before they start the course. On accredited courses such as CELTA and CertTESOL, tasks might be given to candidates as part of the interview process (see the previous topic). Here we describe pre-course tasks which help to prepare trainees for the course.

Think first
Suggested answer
What kinds of tasks do you think candidates should complete before the course begins?

On pre-service courses, these may involve language awareness tasks or directed reading from core methodology books in order to provide a grounding. In an in-service course, teachers may be encouraged to consider their existing beliefs and practices or read more advanced literature in the field.

Look at these tasks and questions given to trainees before a course begins. What type of course do you think they go with? Click Turn when you’re ready to compare with the suggested answer. 

You may want trainees to send you their answers before the course begins. This will help you to plan the course: we will look at this in more detail in the next topic.