If you’ve decided to pursue that dream of teaching English abroad you’ve probably realised you need to look into a TEFL qualification. But there are so many options out there it’s hard to know where to start. This post will present a few options so you can explore which TEFL course is right for you.
So what does a TEFL qualification get you?
Lots of things! The course gives you an introduction to what teaching ESL is like so you can decide if it’s right for you or not. Of course, working as a teacher is different to studying on a TEFL course, but by the end of it most people are excited to jump into the teaching world.
You’ll also get valuable knowledge from your TEFL course. Some provide lots of theory on teaching practices. Others provide hands-on experience in a classroom setting. Whatever you go for it’s an essential part of teaching abroad, not least because some countries require teachers to have a TEFL qualification in order to get their working visa.
Knowing where to start is half the battle.
The first question to ask yourself is: where do you want to work? Some countries, such as China, require that all teachers have a minimum of a 120 hour course. If you’ve got your heart set on a specific country, make sure you research what the requirements are.
Also check the course content and option modules. If you’ve got your heart set on working with adults there’s no sense in choosing a course with a focus on young learners (note: the exception to this advice is the CELTA course which is focused on teaching adults but is so thorough that it prepares you well for most age groups). Remember this knowledge is going to help you in an interview securing a job as well as in the classroom.
Next, give some consideration to how long you see yourself teaching ESL for. If it’s a something you see yourself doing for a year then an online course may provide you with everything you need. But if you see yourself doing ESL for a few years or as a career then you may want to explore an in-person course such as the CELTA or CertTESOL. Teachers who’ve done these courses may be viewed by employers as being more serious about teaching. They may also open up more avenues for you in the future.
How does an in-person course differ from an online course?
An in-person course is usually full-time and requires you to attend the course in person where you’ll have exposure to the teaching methods an ESL teacher uses day-in-day-out. You’ll likely also have opportunities to practice in front of students and will get direct feedback about your teaching. This can be absolutely invaluable, and for many people this experience helps them decide if teaching is the right career move.
What about TEFL course accreditation?
There are plenty of TEFL courses out there but unfortunately there is no single, over-arching, international accrediting body. This can make it tricky for a newcomer to the TEFL world looking at which TEFL course is the best fit. Lots of courses are accredited or regulated by national bodies so we’d recommend doing your research into courses near you and finding out who is accrediting them before starting.
Also make sure you check how long the course takes to complete, not just the completion time for you but any marking time and processing time for you to get your certificate. If the course takes 6-8 weeks to provide this after you’ve completed the course, it could really delay your job search if you’re looking for work sooner.
With so many considerations there are lots of things to weigh up when it comes to choosing the perfect TEFL course. Do some research before you sign up to make sure you’re getting the right qualification for you and it’ll pay dividends when starting your TEFL adventure!