Teaching English to speakers of other languages (TESOL)

For Sites and University Supervisors: 

The University of South Australia welcomes your participation in this component of TESOL programs.

This TESOL Professional Experience is included within core courses in our programs, and integral to the philosophy of the program. Our approach to the Professional Experience seeks to unite theory and practice, and to develop a collaborative and equal partnership between educational settings and the University.

This idea of partnership is central to the Professional Experience process. The University component provides PSTs with an opportunity to explore theory and investigate theory emergent in practice. The educational setting component provides them with an opportunity to put theory into practice and reflect on theory emergent in practice in exchanges with their university lecturer and their supervising lecturer(s).

In the TESOL Professional Experience, PSTs are connected with experienced qualified teachers, recently qualified teachers, and novice PSTs. Site coordinators and supervising lecturers identify what prior experience each PST brings to the TESOL Professional Experience, and offer a responsive mentoring experience.

The broad parameters of the Professional Experience are as follows:

  • PSTs are attached to placement settings, sometimes in a group and sometimes individually.
  • PSTs are allocated a TESOL supervising lecturer who becomes the main contact within the setting, and the major source of advice and inspiration.
  • Supervising lecturers’ support for the PSTs as critical friends in the placement is vital for the development of reflective practice. We believe this is of the utmost importance for new graduate teachers who are not necessarily experienced teachers, and also have limited TESOL experience. We rely on the professional experience and expertise of supervising lecturers.
  • The idea is that PSTs will operate as adjunct staff members in the placement setting.
  • A University liaison lecturer is allocated to each Professional Experience site, to act as a conduit between the University and the site, to provide support to site supervising lecturers where appropriate, and to support the PST/graduate teacher in fulfilling university requirements.

In this model, education settings and the University are both conceptualised as places where theoretically informed practice occurs. It is envisaged that PSTs will observe, gather data and document and reflect on their experiences throughout the Professional Experience.

The University TESOL lecturers are excited about this approach to the Professional Experience, and have found that PSTs and supervising lecturers generally find it professionally stimulating, challenging and ultimately rewarding. We are looking forward to working with you in supporting our student teachers.

We welcome your involvement in this venture, which has the potential to offer many new and exciting challenges for a group of enthusiastic beginning TESOL teachers.

On behalf of the TESOL Team,

Dr Greg Restall

Lecturer in Education (TESOL)
School of Education
Telephone: 8302 4211
Email: greg.restall@unisa.edu.au

For Students: The TESOL Professional Experience

TESOL Professional Experience courses have two equally valued and important components. These are:

  • Professional Experience component – 60 hours supervised workplace Professional Experience, assessed as Satisfactory (see section C below and appendices 3 to 6)
  • University online lecture and workshop component, assessed as Satisfactory on the basis of a reflective report (see the Course Outline and the LearnOnline course website)

The two components inform each other, and assessment of learning integrates the two components. This booklet is concerned only with the Professional Experience component. It provides information on:

  • Professional Experience requirements
  • Participants’ roles
  • Assessment and reporting in the Professional Experience

TESOL Professional Experience requirements

60 hours workplace Professional Experience

This process begins with one or more visits to the Professional Experience site to receive an introduction to the setting, its core priorities and practices, and to meet staff and your supervising lecturer. The purpose of this visit is to build your understanding of the workplace and to increase your awareness of student needs and possible ways of responding to them. You will also plan the start of your Professional Experience placement with your supervising lecturer and learn more about the TESOL issues discussed in your course work.

This block of 60 hours of professional experience must take place within a single study period but may be spaced out across the duration of that study period in a number of ways. For example, it may be 12 hours a week over 5 weeks; 7.5 hours a week over 8 weeks, 4 hours a week over 15 weeks, or 30 hours a week for two weeks. Your Professional Experience placement is negotiated on a case-by-case basis and considers the circumstances of both the Professional Experience site and the Preservice Teacher.

You are expected to program, plan and assess learning in short units of work, and to conduct one-on-one, small group, and whole-class teaching. Your 60 hours is typically a progressive and overlapping sequence of teaching activity:

  • approximately 10 hours of observation and support teaching, taking on diverse roles as directed by the class teacher, e.g. participating in small group interaction, one-on-one support, participation in role play, whiteboard work
  • approximately 20 hours of team teaching, including planning, teaching and assessing done in conjunction with your supervising lecturer
  • approximately 25 hours of solo whole-class teaching, where planning, teaching and assessing are carried out by you in consultation with your supervising lecturer
  • approximately 5 hours of critical reflection and evaluation on your classroom planning, teaching, and assessment, in collaboration with a supervising lecturer and/or university liaison

This process is flexible and can emphasise solo teaching. For example if you are already in a classroom position as an employee or volunteer. In all instances, the Professional Experience must include a minimum of 25 hours solo whole-class teaching.

Where possible, you will conduct your Professional Experience in classes having two different levels of ESL proficiency, and/or two different types of learning focus. Please also refer to appendix 1, Checklist for supervising lecturers, to investigate opportunities that will maximise your learning experiences.

In order to develop your understanding of TESOL, you will need to discuss, debate, question, or seek clarification about many issues that confront you in your teaching and learning. Human resources for this purpose include: your supervising lecturer, your university liaison, other staff at the workplace, and other Preservice Teachers undertaking the Professional Experience. Your supervising lecturer/s are predominantly responsible for any judgements about your teaching performance and suggestions for improvement, with input from the university liaison as appropriate.

It is expected that Preservice Teachers will:

  • plan and document all teaching episodes in detail
  • develop a professional folio (see appendix 2)
  • use a journal to reflect upon and evaluate their teaching and learning
  • provide documentation of their reflections and evaluations, within their folio
  • share their experiences and reflections with supervising lecturer, through online discussions and with a critical friend.

Appendix 1, Checklist for Supervising Lecturers, gives further details on the sorts of experiences PSTs could be introduced to. Section C, below, and Appendices 3 to 6 give details on assessing the Professional Experience.

Professional folio

The development and use of a professional folio is required as part of the Professional Experience process. You are expected to keep comprehensive and well-organised records of:

  • relevant contextual information and classroom observations
  • unit and lesson planning
  • teaching and assessment materials
  • reflections related to the above.

Your folio may comprise several folders and should be organised in a way that facilitates its later use as a resource collection for future work. It must be kept up-to-date and be made available to your supervising lecturer and the university liaison throughout your Professional Experience period.


You are expected to keep a journal throughout the course to critically reflect upon your growth as an emerging TESOL professionals. This journal is for Preservice Teacher use only. It is a way for you to record your experiences in a personal manner. The journal can also be used selectively as a resource for writing the reflective report for University assessment.

The journal should include:

  • observations of learners, their English proficiency and their language learning strategies
  • reflections on how to function as a member of the teaching team and share in the planning and setting up of the educational environment
  • teaching plans for a range of activities in the designated area, and reflections on their implementation
  • observations on the philosophy of the institution, its policies, its intercultural practices and the roles of each staff member
  • evaluations of observed teaching and your own teaching
  • reflections on TESOL issues encountered and how these relate to the TESOL course work you have been doing
  • comparisons with previous teaching and learning experience
  • critical reflections on personal and professional growth.