What is TEFL?
TEFL is the acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. You might also come across TESL, which stands for Teaching English as a Second Language. While the first one design a course to teach students in a non-English country, the second corresponds to people teaching students to an English-speaking country, like immigrants for example.
Both names can be placed under the umbrella of TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Others Languages).
Why teaching TEFL?
Let’s talk about numbers. There are 1.5 billion people currently learning English worldwide! (2017) According to the British Council, there are 750 Million people as foreigners, where their native language isn’t English. Needless to say, English is the most studied language in the World. And this is not going to stop pretty soon. The prediction shows that the number of people learning English will double by 2020!
Yes, think about it. The numbers of adults in need of English at their workplace keeps increasing. Joined by the rise of the Global Business Market, where English dominates. The demand of teachers can come from a primary school in Nepal, in Korea, to a business adult in Europe.
It allows you to travel the world
As you can see, being an English Teacher can permit you to travel to places you would have never been able to go, or just as a tourist. Some employers even, are willing to pay your expenses before you start working for them, like flight fees, accommodation (Korea, China). You can also make a decent source of income at the end of each month. Especially true in Asia where it is not uncommon to save up to 30-50% of your salary).
Pretty good when you hold that certification of English Teacher, right? But which certification you should go for?
Which TEFL course to choose?
There are many options and many schools/providers to choose from. Look at this important points:
Minimum of 100 academics hours and 6 hours of teaching practice
To gain an “accreditated” TEFL certification course recognized internationally, you must complete at least 100 hours of academic study, and a minimum of 6 hours of practicum with real students.
Onsite VS Online
While the online course gives you flexibility, you can complete it after your 9-5 day job, it is also the cheaper option. On the other hand, the onsite course is quicker to get, generally 4 weeks, and gives you the chance to have a good taste of the environment you are going to work in, in the country you have chosen. Also, this method gives you the minimum 6 hours practicum with real students. As seen previously, a requirement by top schools who hire English teachers.
Your certificate must be accredited by a recognized independent governing body. Here is the list of some of those accrediting bodies:
CELTA, TRINITY Certification, IATQO, TQUK, OFQUAL, BAC, ODLQC.
A membership is not an accreditation!!!
If a TEFL provider advertised their membership to an external body, this does not mean their course has been overlooked and approved by a recognized body, thus making your certification less valuable.
Your course provider should also offer you some free assistance when it comes to look for a job. Now, there are some questions to ask. Do you need to accept any job they offer you? Can they help you write a resume, a cover letter? Can they get you in contact with schools in your chosen country?
How much should you invest in a TEFL course?
The ultimate TEFL course, a 4 weeks onsite course cost between $1900 and $2700. This does not include the price of the flight and accommodation. Alternatively, the online course, with practicum hours with real students included, is roughly between $1200 and $1400.
A combined course, with the required minimum 100 hours academic hours and a weekend of practice (rarely with real students), thus not holding the minimum 6 hours practicum some schools required; will cost you around $600. But most providers offer discount throughout the year, bringing the cost at about $300.
A 120 hours online course, with no practice included, can cost about $350, discounted at half-price most of the year.
Now, of course, you pay what you get. Before you decide, find out what the schools are asking their teachers to hold as accreditation in your chosen country.
Also, I would not consider any others courses to prepare you to teach English to speakers of other languages.
I am not going to mention any providers here because it really depends on your choice of course, locations if you choose onsite learning, and the dates you can take on the course. I just suggest that you check the reviews of the providers on teflcoursereview.com to assess their credibility and how many years they have been in the business.
While most countries ask specifically that you meet to minimum 100 academic hours plus 6 hours practicum, others are more flexible. Before investing in a TEFL course, ask yourself where do you want to teach? In Thailand, you can find work without a TEFL course. That might not be true in Korea, Chile, and definitely not in Europe. Now ask yourself, if you were a school director, will you like the teacher you are looking for to hold a valid accreditation? The obvious answer is yes. Teaching is not something you can improvise. That’s why, investing in a TEFL course is highly recommended, if not necessary.
Your choice of course will depend mostly on you, your futures projects professional, personal and the money you can invest. An English native student in his/her gap year who wants to travel to Asia has different necessities in terms of certification than a 35-year-old person from France who seeks a career change in Spain. Do some research on your own, contact schools to find out what qualification there ask from their English teachers.
Do some research on your own, contact schools to find out what qualification they ask from their English teachers.
All in all, if you are looking for a job with high demands in this difficult economic market, a way to travel while earning money, contribute to communities in Third World countries; teach kids and/or professional; teaching English and getting your TEFL certification might just be the ideal choice.
Let me know in the comment if you have/if you will pass the course. Or simply if you have any question or input to add.