Does anyone have a view on ideal participant numbers for a TEFL training course? The ones I have been involved with tended to have between 8 and 12 participants, divided into two groups for teaching practice. Occasionally, I was involved with courses of 15, divided into 3 groups of 5. In any case, these numbers are quite similar to those in TEFL classes in language schools - and allow the trainers to model different kinds of teaching activities, which the trainee teachers can use in their own teaching - i.e. what Tessa Woodward calls 'loop input'.
One reason I ask is that I noticed that trainee numbers for the courses run under the TEFL International label seem remarkably low. Judging by the reports on their website, the last 10 courses at TI Centres have averaged less than 4 trainees each. One of these ran with a single trainee and two of them with a brace. And in 2012 as a whole, 60% of the courses have averaged five or fewer trainees.
I imagine their running costs are relatively low (judging by the one TEFL International centre I've seen - essentially a single open-plan office in a commercial building, divided into an admin area, a self-study area and a single classroom area. Money is also saved by not having selection interviews or visiting assessors etc). However, with numbers as low as they are at present, you have to wonder how sustainable such an operation is - after all, rates, wages, overheads etc need to be paid. And it's hard to imagine their New York centre, for instance, clamouring to run another course with only 2 trainees. Much the same goes for centres in London, Tokyo, Florence, Seville, with just a handful of trainees on each course. How long can this go on like this?
And are courses of one, two, three trainees really worth running, from an educational point of view? What mingling or regrouping activities are going to happen in a group of three or four trainees, for instance? "Compare with your partner .. hang on a sec, I'll get you a mirror ...."
Martin McMorrow, Auckland, New Zealand