•  Home
  • Giving

Practicum Requirements

The practicum requirement for your program is an in-field experience in which you will experience the realities of a classroom/school environment related to your degree.  In addition to time on-site, all students will be enrolled in a practicum course.  The faculty member of the practicum course will be the primary contact for questions, concerns, and successes during your practicum experience.Students are encouraged to seek their own practicum opportunities, or one may be assigned. Be sure to consult your specific degree for information regarding your exact practicum experience requirements.

Note that practicum requirements differ based upon the degree/concentration area, so consult your specific degree/concentration below:

TESOL Practicum Requirements
The TESOL Practicum consists of experiential exposure to an actual second language classroom/school setting.
Students can expect the following workload requirements:

Workload

0.5 credit: 15 hours of seminar/lab instruction
2.5 credits: 115 hours of practical experience

  • 60 hours of classroom observations
  • 20 hours of collaborative lesson planning
  • 10 hours of supervised teaching
  • 25 hours of portfolio preparation

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Practicum experience:

What am I required to submit each week to meet the course requirements?

Attachment A of Practicum syllabus will list the assignments that you will be expected to prepare for each week. In addition to these, you will be required to submit a Timesheet each week, along with any observation forms that you have completed in association with the hours reported on your Timesheet. These documents will be available on the course LMS site in the Course Resources folder.

What can I do in order to complete my observation hours?

One of the goals of the Practicum is to help you gain experiential exposure to a wide variety of language classroom settings. As such, it is strongly recommended that you try to visit as many different types of schools, programs, and classes as possible, serving students with a wide range of ages and proficiency levels, and with differing backgrounds, needs, interests, and goals. At least half (i.e., 30) of your classroom observations must be conducted in person, in live classrooms. However, the other half may be conducted in a variety of other formats, as outlined below, as long as no more than a quarter (i.e., 15) of your hours fall into any one of these categories:

  • Peer observations conducted during extracurricular English language enrichment activities that you and a classmate or colleague have designed collaboratively for a pre-approved ESL program
    • Potential activities might include running a speaker series; moderating a book, movie, game, or community service club; leading students on excursions; coordinating international telecollaborative language and culture exchange activities; etc. In all cases, the Practicum participants in charge must design specific language-development activities to accompany the events and advertise the activities to promote participation by ESL students. At least two instructors must be involved so that you have opportunities to observe your classmate or colleague.
    • Note: VIU’s School of Language Studies has agreed to allow our MA TESOL students to plan, design, advertise, and implement extracurricular English language learning activities for students in VIU’s ESL programs.
  • Self-observations of videos that you have taken of your own teaching in a live classroom
    • This option is intended for in-service teachers who are currently working and wish to observe and reflect on their own teaching practices as a form of professional development.
    • Note: You will need to obtain permission from the program director, students, and possibly parents (if the students are minors) so that you can video-record your classes.
  • Video observations of authentic language classes that have been video-recorded and posted online
    • The purpose of this option is to provide you with exposure to a wider variety of language classrooms than you might be able to achieve in your local context. For example, if you are living in the US, but interested in teaching abroad (or vice versa), you may be able to find examples of language classes in a context that matches your future career interests more closely.
    • Note: You must provide a link to each video on your Timesheet.

If there are only 8 weeks in the ONLINE course, why are there 10 Reflective Observation Reports?

The observation reports correspond to topics for reflection that are listed in Attachment B, not to the number of weeks in the course. In some weeks, you may be asked to reflect on more than one topic.  It is suggested that you complete the observation logs in the order specified in Attachment B and by the recommended completion date.  You may, however, complete logs before the specified due date.
Each reflective observation report should constitute roughly 6-10 hours of observation.  The observation reports allow for you to reflect upon specific topics designed by the faculty to allow reflection and critical thinking on topics that you have been exposed to throughout your program.

If I am an ON-CAMPUS student, how many observation hours should I complete each week?

Students who wish to allow time to focus on their cooperative lesson planning and supervised teaching are encouraged to complete 6 hours of observation per week in order to finish observations by the end of week 10 (6 hours x 10 weeks = 60 observation hours).

If I am an ONLINE student, how many observation hours should I complete each week?

Students who wish to allow time to focus on their cooperative lesson planning and supervised teaching are encouraged to complete 12 hours of observation per week in order to finish observations by the end of week 5 (12 hours x 5 weeks = 60 observation hours).

What should I do if I am unable to complete my observation hours for a given week?

From time to time, you may not be able to complete the suggested observation hours for a given week. If this is the case, you should notify the Practicum instructor ahead of time. There is no penalty for missing observation hours for a week; however, you are advised to do so only for serious reasons and to catch up as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may not be able to complete the required hours for the course. Remember that failure to complete the required observation hours has the consequence of an automatic deduction of 20% from your final grade.

What is collaborative lesson planning?

Collaborative lesson planning involves working on lesson plans with a language teaching professional, ideally one whom you are observing. You are encouraged to use this as an opportunity to design and improve the lesson plans that you will submit as a component of your Portfolio. By the end of the semester, you must have completed at least 20 hours of collaborative lesson planning. It is hoped that you will have the opportunity to implement some of your planned lessons in your supervised teaching.

Collaborative lesson planning can include the following:

  • Reviewing, commenting on, and discussing lesson plans provided by a language professional;
  • Working on a lesson plan with a language teaching professional whom you are observing; and/or
  • Planning a lesson and having it reviewed and commented on by a language professional.

What is supervised teaching?

The supervised teaching requirement is intended to provide you with practical teaching experience in a live classroom. You are encouraged to video-record at least 2 hours of your supervised teaching and then edit it down to 45 minutes, highlighting particular aspects of your teaching expertise, for the submission of your teaching demonstration video. You must complete at least 10 hours of supervised teaching, which can include the following:

  • Supervised teaching: This consists of delivering a lesson that you have planned to students in a classroom setting. Another language educator (likely the regular teacher for that course) must be in the classroom with you.
  • Tutoring: Up to 3 hours of one-on-one or group tutoring may be substituted for classroom instruction.
  • Preparation time: For every hour of teaching or tutoring that you complete, it is assumed that you will have done at least one hour of prior preparation. Therefore, every hour of teaching or tutoring will count as 2 hours toward the supervised teaching requirement (1 hour of teaching/tutoring + 1 hour of preparation). In other words, for example, you could complete 2 hours of classroom teaching, 3 hours of tutoring, and 5 hours of preparation time (= 10 hours).

If I am an ONLINE student, can I complete cooperative lesson planning or supervised teaching at the same time?

Because cooperative lesson planning can enhance and/or serve to prepare you for your direct supervised teaching, students are encouraged to work on both requirements simultaneously.  It is suggested that you conduct 6-7 hours of cooperative lesson planning in conjunction with 3-4 hours of supervised teaching per week for weeks 6 to 8.

If I am an ON-CAMPUS student, can I complete cooperative lesson planning or supervised teaching at the same time?

Because cooperative lesson planning can enhance and/or serve to prepare you for your direct supervised teaching, students are encouraged to work on both requirements simultaneously. It is suggested that you conduct 3-4 hours of cooperative lesson planning in conjunction with 1-3 hours of supervised teaching per week for weeks 11-15.

I am currently teaching. Can I substitute some of my teaching hours for the requirements of the course?

In-service teachers may substitute up to 5 hours of their own teaching for the supervised teaching requirement. Before substituting any of this time, you must seek approval from the Practicum instructor. If you wish to substitute time, one hour of your own teaching may be substituted for each hour of supervised teaching, but no preparation hours may be included in this time. You are still required to submit a timesheet signed by your supervisor to indicate that you were teaching.

I am having trouble securing a site that will let me complete my supervised teaching hours. What should I do?

If you anticipate problems completing your teaching hours, you should notify the Practicum instructor immediately. Please remember that up to 3 hours of tutoring (plus 3 hours of preparation) may be substituted for classroom instruction, thereby fulfilling 6 of the required supervised teaching hours. You must complete a minimum of 2 hours of supervised teaching in a classroom setting (plus 2 hours of preparation). In extreme cases, you may record a simulated teaching session to fulfill the minimum 2-hour requirement.

What should I do when observing a class?

Please follow the procedures below to minimize disruption:

  • Obtain general permission from the appropriate administrator (e.g., principal, director) and specific permission from the instructor via email well in advance, unless otherwise specified by the instructor. (Some may require more notice than others, so you should find out their preferences.)
  • If you are unable to make it to a scheduled observation, be sure to inform the instructor via email as soon as possible.
  • Arrive before the class begins, sit where the teacher requests, and remain for your entire scheduled time.
  • Interact with the students only if invited to do so by the instructor; do not interrupt to add your own observations or corrections.
  • Do not hold private discussions with students or other observers during the class.
  • Turn off your mobile phone or any other noise-making device before the class begins.
  • Remember to obtain the instructor’s signature at the end of the observed lesson. If an instructor finds your classroom behavior disruptive, s/he is under no obligation to sign your timesheet.

Note: The topics for the written reflections on your classroom observations are listed in Attachment D.

I am planning on doing my observations at VIU. How do I schedule them?

VIU’s ESL department has made the following requests regarding observations of their ESL classes.  Practicum students will need to obtain prior approval from the ESL Director and the instructor before observing any classes. You may obtain initial permission to observe by emailing the Program Director of the School of Language Studies. To schedule observations with an instructor, you will need to request permission via email no later than Thursday of the week prior to the week in which you would like observe.  Unless otherwise instructed, you should await email confirmation of your request before observing. You will not be permitted to observe without having received an email confirmation of your request.

I am planning on doing observations outside of VIU. How do I schedule them?

You will need to seek approval from outside organizations or institutions in order to observe their classes. You should contact the director of any program that you are interested in observing. Many program directors prefer that requests for observations come directly to them. Your Practicum instructor or the Chair of your Department may assist you in identifying strategies to find observation sites. However, it is your responsibility to secure sites for your observations.

Graduate Certificate in TESOL Practicum Requirements

The TESOL Practicum consists of experiential exposure to an actual second language classroom/school setting. Students can expect the following workload requirements:

Workload

0.5 credit:  15 hours of seminar/lab instruction
2.5 credits: 115 hours of practical experience

  • 60 hours of classroom observations
  • 20 hours of collaborative lesson planning
  • 10 hours of supervised teaching
  • 25 hours of portfolio preparation

Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the Practicum experience:

What am I required to submit each week to meet the course requirements?

Attachment A of Practicum syllabus will list the assignments that you will be expected to prepare for each week. In addition to these, you will be required to submit a Timesheet each week, along with any observation forms that you have completed in association with the hours reported on your Timesheet. These documents will be available on the course LMS site in the Course Resources folder.

What can I do in order to complete my observation hours?

One of the goals of the Practicum is to help you gain experiential exposure to a wide variety of language classroom settings. As such, it is strongly recommended that you try to visit as many different types of schools, programs, and classes as possible, serving students with a wide range of ages and proficiency levels, and with differing backgrounds, needs, interests, and goals. At least half (i.e., 30) of your classroom observations must be conducted in person, in live classrooms. However, the other half may be conducted in a variety of other formats, as outlined below, as long as no more than a quarter (i.e., 15) of your hours fall into any one of these categories:

  • Peer observations conducted during extracurricular English language enrichment activities that you and a classmate or colleague have designed collaboratively for a pre-approved ESL program
    • Potential activities might include running a speaker series; moderating a book, movie, game, or community service club; leading students on excursions; coordinating international telecollaborative language and culture exchange activities; etc. In all cases, the Practicum participants in charge must design specific language-development activities to accompany the events and advertise the activities to promote participation by ESL students. At least two instructors must be involved so that you have opportunities to observe your classmate or colleague.
    • Note: VIU’s School of Language Studies has agreed to allow our MA TESOL students to plan, design, advertise, and implement extracurricular English language learning activities for students in VIU’s ESL programs.
  • Self-observations of videos that you have taken of your own teaching in a live classroom
    • This option is intended for in-service teachers who are currently working and wish to observe and reflect on their own teaching practices as a form of professional development.
    • Note: You will need to obtain permission from the program director, students, and possibly parents (if the students are minors) so that you can video-record your classes.
  • Video observations of authentic language classes that have been video-recorded and posted online
    • The purpose of this option is to provide you with exposure to a wider variety of language classrooms than you might be able to achieve in your local context. For example, if you are living in the US, but interested in teaching abroad (or vice versa), you may be able to find examples of language classes in a context that matches your future career interests more closely.
    • Note: You must provide a link to each video on your Timesheet.

If there are only 8 weeks in the ONLINE course, why are there 10 Reflective Observation Reports?

The observation reports correspond to topics for reflection that are listed in Attachment B, not to the number of weeks in the course. In some weeks, you may be asked to reflect on more than one topic.  It is suggested that you complete the observation logs in the order specified in Attachment B and by the recommended completion date.  You may, however, complete logs before the specified due date.
Each reflective observation report should constitute roughly 6-10 hours of observation.  The observation reports allow for you to reflect upon specific topics designed by the faculty to allow reflection and critical thinking on topics that you have been exposed to throughout your program.

If I am an ON-CAMPUS student, how many observation hours should I complete each week?

Students who wish to allow time to focus on their cooperative lesson planning and supervised teaching are encouraged to complete 6 hours of observation per week in order to finish observations by the end of week 10 (6 hours x 10 weeks = 60 observation hours).

If I am an ONLINE student, how many observation hours should I complete each week?

Students who wish to allow time to focus on their cooperative lesson planning and supervised teaching are encouraged to complete 12 hours of observation per week in order to finish observations by the end of week 5 (12 hours x 5 weeks = 60 observation hours).

What should I do if I am unable to complete my observation hours for a given week?

From time to time, you may not be able to complete the suggested observation hours for a given week. If this is the case, you should notify the Practicum instructor ahead of time. There is no penalty for missing observation hours for a week; however, you are advised to do so only for serious reasons and to catch up as soon as possible. Otherwise, you may not be able to complete the required hours for the course. Remember that failure to complete the required observation hours has the consequence of an automatic deduction of 20% from your final grade.

What is collaborative lesson planning?

Collaborative lesson planning involves working on lesson plans with a language teaching professional, ideally one whom you are observing. You are encouraged to use this as an opportunity to design and improve the lesson plans that you will submit as a component of your Portfolio. By the end of the semester, you must have completed at least 20 hours of collaborative lesson planning. It is hoped that you will have the opportunity to implement some of your planned lessons in your supervised teaching.

Collaborative lesson planning can include the following:

  • Reviewing, commenting on, and discussing lesson plans provided by a language professional;
  • Working on a lesson plan with a language teaching professional whom you are observing; and/or
  • Planning a lesson and having it reviewed and commented on by a language professional.

What is supervised teaching?

The supervised teaching requirement is intended to provide you with practical teaching experience in a live classroom. You are encouraged to video-record at least 2 hours of your supervised teaching and then edit it down to 45 minutes, highlighting particular aspects of your teaching expertise, for the submission of your teaching demonstration video. You must complete at least 10 hours of supervised teaching, which can include the following:

  • Supervised teaching: This consists of delivering a lesson that you have planned to students in a classroom setting. Another language educator (likely the regular teacher for that course) must be in the classroom with you.
  • Tutoring: Up to 3 hours of one-on-one or group tutoring may be substituted for classroom instruction.
  • Preparation time: For every hour of teaching or tutoring that you complete, it is assumed that you will have done at least one hour of prior preparation. Therefore, every hour of teaching or tutoring will count as 2 hours toward the supervised teaching requirement (1 hour of teaching/tutoring + 1 hour of preparation). In other words, for example, you could complete 2 hours of classroom teaching, 3 hours of tutoring, and 5 hours of preparation time (= 10 hours).

If I am an ONLINE student, can I complete cooperative lesson planning or supervised teaching at the same time?

Because cooperative lesson planning can enhance and/or serve to prepare you for your direct supervised teaching, students are encouraged to work on both requirements simultaneously.  It is suggested that you conduct 6-7 hours of cooperative lesson planning in conjunction with 3-4 hours of supervised teaching per week for weeks 6 to 8.

If I am an ON-CAMPUS student, can I complete cooperative lesson planning or supervised teaching at the same time?

Because cooperative lesson planning can enhance and/or serve to prepare you for your direct supervised teaching, students are encouraged to work on both requirements simultaneously. It is suggested that you conduct 3-4 hours of cooperative lesson planning in conjunction with 1-3 hours of supervised teaching per week for weeks 11-15.

I am currently teaching. Can I substitute some of my teaching hours for the requirements of the course?

In-service teachers may substitute up to 5 hours of their own teaching for the supervised teaching requirement. Before substituting any of this time, you must seek approval from the Practicum instructor. If you wish to substitute time, one hour of your own teaching may be substituted for each hour of supervised teaching, but no preparation hours may be included in this time. You are still required to submit a timesheet signed by your supervisor to indicate that you were teaching.

I am having trouble securing a site that will let me complete my supervised teaching hours. What should I do?

If you anticipate problems completing your teaching hours, you should notify the Practicum instructor immediately. Please remember that up to 3 hours of tutoring (plus 3 hours of preparation) may be substituted for classroom instruction, thereby fulfilling 6 of the required supervised teaching hours. You must complete a minimum of 2 hours of supervised teaching in a classroom setting (plus 2 hours of preparation). In extreme cases, you may record a simulated teaching session to fulfill the minimum 2-hour requirement.

What should I do when observing a class?

Please follow the procedures below to minimize disruption:

  • Obtain general permission from the appropriate administrator (e.g., principal, director) and specific permission from the instructor via email well in advance, unless otherwise specified by the instructor. (Some may require more notice than others, so you should find out their preferences.)
  • If you are unable to make it to a scheduled observation, be sure to inform the instructor via email as soon as possible.
  • Arrive before the class begins, sit where the teacher requests, and remain for your entire scheduled time.
  • Interact with the students only if invited to do so by the instructor; do not interrupt to add your own observations or corrections.
  • Do not hold private discussions with students or other observers during the class.
  • Turn off your mobile phone or any other noise-making device before the class begins.
  • Remember to obtain the instructor’s signature at the end of the observed lesson. If an instructor finds your classroom behavior disruptive, s/he is under no obligation to sign your timesheet.
  • Note: The topics for the written reflections on your classroom observations are listed in Attachment D.

I am planning on doing my observations at VIU. How do I schedule them?

VIU’s ESL department has made the following requests regarding observations of their ESL classes.  Practicum students will need to obtain prior approval from the ESL Director and the instructor before observing any classes. You may obtain initial permission to observe by emailing the Program Director of the School of Language Studies. To schedule observations with an instructor, you will need to request permission via email no later than Thursday of the week prior to the week in which you would like observe.  Unless otherwise instructed, you should await email confirmation of your request before observing. You will not be permitted to observe without having received an email confirmation of your request.

I am planning on doing observations outside of VIU. How do I schedule them?

You will need to seek approval from outside organizations or institutions in order to observe their classes. You should contact the director of any program that you are interested in observing. Many program directors prefer that requests for observations come directly to them. Your Practicum instructor or the Chair of your Department may assist you in identifying strategies to find observation sites. However, it is your responsibility to secure sites for your observations.