30 Mar What kind of courses can we be doing from Riyadh?
Time on your hands? Take an online course!
I recently gave two ‘taster’ workshops for the WSB at their ‘Survive and Thrive’ event, and something that a lot of the attendees mentioned is that they would like to know more about options available for studying online. If you would like to know the same, then read on! I am not affiliated with any of the following websites or organisations, but I do recommend them based on value for money (either they are free or they are accredited by reputable organisations and will add real value to your CV), ease of use, good communication from the organizers and how user-friendly they are. I hope you can find something here you will enjoy, and remember even if your stay in Riyadh represents essentially a career-break for you, if you can show potential future employers that you pursued some sort of professional development this will reflect well on you.
Duolingo is a fantastic free resources to get into learning a new language! You sign up for an account and choose two languages – one you can already speak, and one you want to learn/improve. Then, the games begin! You are asked to translate between the two languages, by listening, reading, typing or speaking. There is a very well-done app for your phone, and you can also log on via desktop (the desktop version is a bit more challenging). It’s really fun and addictive, and if your friends sign up you can link accounts and compete against them to see who practices the most. Duolingo is suitable for complete beginners or intermediate learners. Link provided below.
- MOOCs – Massive Open Online Course
Not sure yet about online study? Would you like to try it for free before committing any cash? Then I strongly suggest joining a Massive Open Online Course, commonly known as a ‘MOOC’. These courses are often provided by top Universities, and give you a taste of what kind of courses those universities offer. You can take a MOOC in pretty much anything – Computer Science, Business, History, Psychology…. If you are interested in it, there is probably a MOOC available. MOOCs can be anything from 1 weeks to 6 months long, and there are dozens of providers. Links are provided at the end of the article, but the top free MOOC providers in my opinion are Coursera and edX. You might also want to check out the other (paid) providers on the ‘top 80’ list, link below.
- The Open University
The OU is a very well respected British University offering online and distance courses in a wide variety of subjects. While a lot of online certificates and degrees are not accepted by employers here (as they have not investigated how rigorous the courses are), qualifications from the OU have been known to be accepted. They offer 180 different qualifications and while it is not cheap, compared to other universities it is excellent value for money and you might finish your studies with a Postgraduate Certificate or even a Master’s Degree. If you are going to be here for another year or two, this is a great option.
- TEFL – Teaching English as a Foreign Language
Can you picture yourself as an English Teacher in a classroom, or offering English Language tutoring in your home? Then a TEFL certificate might be for you! There are basically two options – a course with a real classroom teaching component, or a totally online course. There are pros and cons to each, but it really depends on your goals. If you think this is a career you would like to actively pursue, then I recommend taking a CELTA course (or something similar with 120 hours teaching practice included), as not only will you gain valuable classroom experience but these certificates are also recognised as industry standard worldwide. On the other hand, if you would like to learn more but not make such a large financial or time commitment, take an online course to get a solid understanding of what is involved in TEFL.
- Coaching and Mentoring
Perhaps you came to one of my workshops and would like to learn more about what I do? The skills and knowledge you can gain from a good introductory Coaching/Mentoring course are useful not only for your own sense of well-being and personal development, but also if this is a career you might look at in the future. So what is the difference between a Mentor and a Coach? A Mentor is experienced and knowledgeable in a certain area, e.g. they are a professional artist, and people who are new to that area (so in this example, beginner artists) want to learn from them about how to improve their practice. Is there something you could mentor other people in? In contrast, a Coach may not have a lot of knowledge in the client’s area, but they are trained to facilitate forward growth no matter what the subject. Are you a people-person, able to talk with people from all walks of life? Then perhaps coaching is for you! The Institute of Counselling in the UK offers a wide variety of courses of differing lengths, some that come with college credit.
- How to evaluate other courses?
So, you are inspired to take an online or distance course but none of the above appeals to you – no problem! There are literally thousands of courses offered online these days, the only issue is choosing one. When you are researching the course, consider: why is it free? Are they going to ask for money at the end? Or, why is it expensive? Am I getting college credit? Is the course offered by an accredited institution? Are there good reviews from the course from people who have finished it? If you cannot find reviews of either the course or the course provider, I would avoid that course! However, once you have found one that lights a spark in you, go for it – you might not have this free time again. Best of luck!
Adelina Holmes is an Educational Adviser and Executive Coach living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org