6 Tips for Picking a TEFL Course
To teach English abroad you need a qualification to prove you have the expertise to be in charge of a classroom. In the business, this is referred to as TEFL qualification and it’s required for all teaching positions. As teaching English grows into a popular and attractive way to experience other cultures, so grows the multitude of courses available. Unsurprisingly, the quality of some TEFL courses can be questionable and if you’re new to the world of TEFL it can be hard to sift the good from the bad. Here are 6 tips for picking a TEFL course that is perfect for you.
1️⃣ Why do you want to teach?
Before you dive into picking a TEFL course, it’s important to clarify why you want to teach English abroad. Is teaching English a temporary career to facilitate travelling? Or is it a chosen career in which you hope to progress and pursue long-term? This will help determine how much you should invest in your course in terms of time, money, and depth of content. The two most popular course types are TEFL and CELTA/TESOL qualifications.
💰 anywhere from $200 to $400+
⏰ 1 – 6 months in your free time
📚 basic teaching methodology
👨🏫 will facilitate you to find decent ESL jobs in most countries
⏰ 4/5 weeks full time
✍️ in person
📚 in-depth teaching methodology and classroom practice
👨🏫 guaranteed to find good ESL jobs in all countries
If you are new to teaching I recommend a TEFL course while you determine if it’s a career for you, before investing a lot of time and money into getting a higher qualification. If you already have some experience in the classroom and plan to make teaching English a long-term career then investing in a CELTA will open the door to higher paid and more reputable teaching positions. I know many teachers who have decided after a little bit of experience to invest in a CELTA or return to university and complete their PGCE to work at an international school.
There can be a big variation in the price of TEFL courses. As with many things in life, you get what you pay for and TEFL qualifications are no exception. Generally, the cheaper TEFL courses are okay for the basics but investing in a more in-depth course will set you up to be more prepared and confident in the classroom.
3️⃣ TEFL course accreditation
Accreditation by external education boards is something that should be at the forefront of your consideration when picking a TEFL course. Accreditation ensures that the TEFL certification is recognised and accepted all over the world. It’s also a good way of checking that the course you purchase is legit.
The TEFL course I completed through TEFL.org was accredited by a number of the education boards in my country which indicated that the course would be decent quality. Ninja Teacher*, the most renowned TEFL training academy based in Vietnam, is accredited by the American Global TESOL Association.
4️⃣ TEFL course content
It’s also important to consider the content when picking a TEFL course. Different teaching skills and methods are required for teaching adults vs children, and online vs in class for example. Knowing what kind of teaching role you are interested in pursuing will help you determine how valuable a specific TEFL course will be based on its content.
Read more ✍ Different types of teaching jobs in Vietnam.
Most courses are geared towards teaching adults. If you plan to teach children I recommend finding a course that includes content on classroom management, engaging young learners, and managing large class sizes. If you are planning on doing private/online tutoring then incorporating modules related to remote learning such as telephone/Skype teaching could be useful.
Don’t panic if you have already completed or purchased a TEFL which isn’t perfectly tailored to the teaching you would like to apply for. A lot of teaching skills are learned on the job, and you can always purchase additional specialized modules at a later date if you feel you need them (TEFL.org has a lot of specialist add-on courses*).
5️⃣ Online or Face-Face Learning
Most TEFL courses are predominantly online which is great as it allows you to work on your certification alongside working/studying, but some online TEFL courses offer in-person components, which I recommend taking if you are nervous about stepping into the classroom. There are also some in-person TEFL courses you can do, though these tend to be in destination countries rather than home countries. For example, in Vietnam, you could consider the Ninja Teacher programs*.
CELTA/TESOL courses tend to be a combination of classroom practice and in-person studying, with less online studying. Most people need to take time away from work to complete these courses resulting in additional costs you should factor in.
6️⃣ Time to complete
Online TEFL courses allow you to pick a course length that suits you, normally from 1-6 months. Before purchasing check whether you can extend the course if you find yourself unable to meet the final deadline; I extended my course for a small fee.
CELTA/TESOL qualifications can be intense and require much more time commitment. Normally CELTAs will have a set start and end date because of the in-person element. Often CELTA/TESOL courses last for 4 weeks.
What TEFL course did I do?
A teaching qualification is something you require to work as an ESL teacher, but whether you pick a TEFL course or opt for the CELTA course depends on your circumstances and preferences. I opted for a TEFL certification from TEFL.org*, based in the UK. This qualification has served me perfectly for the past 5 years of teaching English in Vietnam.