15 Nov Why take a TEFL course?
So, you want to teach English abroad? In that case you’re probably wondering what kind of qualifications you need, which country you should move to and how you’re going to find a job, right? At least, these were the things I was most concerned about when I decided to step into the world of English teaching. One of the first decisions I made was to take not one, but two TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) courses – here’s why.
Are you looking for a TEFL course? TEFL UK are offering our readers discounts on their online and in-house, fully accredited courses, you could save nearly £30! If you want to take advantage of this great offer then send us a message using our contact form (include your name and ‘TEFL UK’ as the subject) and we’ll get you the following discounts:
120hr Advanced Interactive TEFL Program, our price – £90 (usually £99)
150hr TEFL Masters Program, our price – £150 (usually £179)
70hr Intensive Teaching Business English Program, our price – £79 (usually £89)
TEFL UK Accredited 20hr Teaching Practicum, our price – £129 (usually £149)
What is a TEFL Course and do you really need to take one?
Quite simply, TEFL courses should help you learn how to teach English as a foreign language to children and adults from countries all over the world. In reality, as I found out when I moved to Vietnam and started my first ever teaching job, nothing can really prepare you for that first time you have to stand in front of a class and deliver a lesson. In my opinion, teaching is really something you have to learn on the job and you only get better at it by practising, learning from your mistakes and constantly trying to improve and adapt your teaching style. So, in light of this, do you really need to take a TEFL course?
I believe that it’s best to look at a TEFL course as an introduction to the world of teaching. Personally, I found this introduction pretty useful and having a TEFL certificate definitely helped me to land a job when I had no previous experience in teaching, so I would recommend taking a course if you’re in the same situation as I was. If you already have teaching experience and qualifications though, you probably won’t need a TEFL certificate to get a job. Andrew, for example, is a qualified teacher in the UK and taught for almost four years in a London secondary school so he had no problem finding a job without a TEFL qualification.
Of course, all this depends on where you’re planning to teach, some countries may insist upon you having a TEFL certificate so you should research what the entry requirements are in your chosen destination. In Asia, we found that schools and language centres generally look for native English speaking candidates with a degree, although there are several teachers at our language centre who aren’t native speakers and one doesn’t have a degree, so the rules aren’t set in stone. If you also have a TEFL certificate, a teaching qualification or previous teaching experience then you’re likely to get your pick of jobs.
Choosing a TEFL Course
Once I’d made the decision to go ahead and take a TEFL course, I had to choose which one to go for, which wasn’t easy considering there’s no universal standard for TEFL courses and there are hundreds of options available. I quickly discovered that the most respected courses are those that provide at least 100 hours of tuition, including at least six hours of observed teaching practice. The ‘gold-standard’ courses, which are often referred to as ‘accredited TEFL courses’ and are most highly respected by employers, are:
- CELTA (Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). This course was devised by Cambridge University and it costs at least £1,000 to take. This is an intensive 100-hour course, which includes at least six hours of practical teaching and is taught in CELTA centres all around the world.
- TRINITY CertTESOL. This is another intensive course which was devised and is overseen by Trinity College London, a UK-based exam board. The course is 130 hours long, which includes six hours of practical teaching; the course costs at least £1,000.
If you have the time and money to take one of these courses I think it would be a wise move but if, like me, you simply can’t afford the course fees there are other, less distinguished options which will still help prepare you for the world of teaching and help you to land a job.
Online TEFL Courses
I was travelling in South-East Asia when I first began searching for TEFL courses, so an online course was the most practical option for me; in the end I chose a 120-hour online course with LoveTEFL, which cost £99. As it turned out, I didn’t actually start my online TEFL course until about six months later when I went back to England for a summer visit, this illustrates one great advantage of online courses: you don’t have to start and finish them immediately; I was allowed three months from when I first logged in to complete the course, which covered the following topics:
- Methodology and history of English Language Teaching.
- How to teach different ages and levels.
- Teaching and learning techniques and classroom management.
- Skills testing: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
- Teaching grammar.
- Teaching pronunciation using the phonetic alphabet.
- Assessments and using multimedia resources in the classroom.
There were easy multiple-choice tests at the end of each module and I had to complete a more comprehensive end-of-course exam and produce a lesson plan to be assessed. I found this course interesting and it definitely gave me a good introductory overview of TEFL teaching; in particular I liked devising my first ever lesson plan, which I received useful feedback about.
Practical TEFL Courses
After taking my online course, unfortunately I still didn’t feel very confident about the physical act of standing in front of a class and delivering a lesson, so I decided to get some practical experience by taking a weekend in-class course while I was in London over the summer. I chose a 20-hour weekend course from TEFL.org which cost £199 and covered the following areas:
- How to plan and deliver English language lessons.
- Classroom management practice and techniques.
- How to use games and activities in lessons.
- Teaching pronunciation and grammar.
- How to correct and assess students.
I really enjoyed this course, the teacher was very engaging and it was great to be able to ask questions and discuss issues with other students. Throughout the weekend we tried out many different games and activities as a group, which was really useful, we also devised and delivered short lessons to the rest of the class. This experience was invaluable to me as it allowed me to really practise teaching a group of people for the first time; it was nerve-wracking but the group were very supportive of each other and I found the experience very positive. I left wishing that I had taken a longer practical course of this kind as well as an online course.
As I mentioned above, I don’t think anything can really prepare you for the real world of teaching. As with most jobs, your development doesn’t finish at the end of a course, you need to be proactive and continue to seek out new learning methods, resources and adapt to be successful.
However, I do think I would have felt much more prepared had I taken either a CELTA or a longer practical TEFL course before arriving in Vietnam; I’d definitely recommend this option if you have the time and money.
2018 teaching opportunities in Hanoi – the language centre we used to work for in Hanoi is now recruiting teachers to start in August 2018. If you’re a native English speaker with a degree and TEFL qualifaction, contact us now and we can put you in touch with the director for an interview.
Alternatively, if you’re looking to teach English in South Korea, then fill out this form and the team at Teach and Travel Recruiting will get back to you as soon as possible.
Find out more about teaching English abroad in these posts:
- Teaching English in Vietnam: Pay, Visas and Finding a Job
- What’s it Actually like to Teach in Vietnam?
- Celebrating Teachers’ Day in Vietnam
- How we Chose Where to Teach in Asia
- Survival Tips and Resources for New TEFL Teachers
- How Much Money can you Earn from Teaching in Vietnam?
- TEFL Advice from a Non-Native English Teacher
Have you taken a TEFL course, or do you have any other recommendations or questions? Feel free to leave a comment below.