I have seen many comments on many different websites about TEFL courses and there seems to be a lot of confusion. I am a little worried that some people are doing courses that they think will get them a certain qualification but actually getting something different.
I am by no means an expect in the subject area but I have been through the process and now teaching abroad myself, thus I have learnt a lot in the process. So here is my quick guide…
You basically have 4 types of courses; all of which are very different:
1) Online Courses –
These are usually £50-£500 depending on the complexity of the course. They can take days, weeks or months and mostly grammar focussed. They are great for the grammar but have no teaching content. For this reason, the majority of employers do not except them. In some countries they are accepted (such as China) but these too are the countries where just a degree is accepted.
2) Weekend courses
These do what they say on the tin. They are just a course over the weekend to cover the basics. The big names of these are ‘i-2-i’, ‘TEFL England’, ‘UK-TEFL’. They are usually £100-£300. The problem is there is little no grammar involved in them. However there is contact hours, a ‘teaching experience’ and attention to how to teach affectively. Some places do accept this as a TEFL certificate and for many places such as countries in Asia is quite accepted. The other good thing is these companies are a lot more helpful for post-course things. They will provide reference letters, help you find jobs, give good advice, etc.
Be warned though – if a job advert just states as a requirement “TEFL certificate” it is 50-50 whether this will be accepted.
[Personally I started with this course but when I decided that I wanted to teach in Europe I got a CELTA. I don’t regret it as it was a great taster course and it prepared me well for the CELTA, plus helped me decide if this something I wanted to do]
3) Combined Courses
This is the same as the 2 above but together. So it mixes the contact hours and teaching aspects with the grammar. The prices vary a lot too; usually somewhere from £100 – £1000. This is popular with many people because you can fit it around the other things you are doing. However, again this is not accepted in all countries due to it not having any assessed teaching experience as part of the course. For this reason to if a job ad says a requirement is a “120hr TEFL Certificate” not all will accept these qualifications if there is no teaching element at all. Some will, but many won’t. What they are refering to is a CELTA, Trinity TESOL or equivillent.
Note – There is one company who are very clever! They try to get around this by providing a 120hr course and then find you a teaching placement as a volunteer at a local language school and claim it to be the equivillent to CELTA. This seems to have some varying success. Some schools buy this, while others don’t seem to.
4) A 4 Week Course
Short of actually having a degree in the subject area this is the best qualifications by a mile and are accepted everywhere around the world. However, and probably for that reason, they are very expensive. They can cost from £800 – £1500. Over £1000 is more like it because the cheapest are abroad and by the time you have included in flights, accommodation, etc, it will be well over that.
These courses involve a very long 4 weeks of grammar and teaching. Don’t think of it as a working holiday at all. It will make University look like no work at all. The main ones are Cambridge CELTA (most recognised) and Trinity TESOL (also very recognised). There are some very similar courses of similar prices and structure but if you are going to spend all that time and money you might as well do one of the 2 most recognised courses. It also means there isn’t that chance that they don’t recognise the name. Finding a course is easy as Cambridge and Trinity both list all the places which do their course.
Please note – Note that countries in Europe (including summer camps in the UK) these courses are essential and the only qualification they will accept. Plus, some of the better jobs around the world will need this; including parts of Asia.
To be ‘CELTA’ or equivillent – For a 4 week course course to be considered the equivillent to a CELTA it must have at least 8 hours of teaching practise (to actual students, not peer teaching) and these teaching practises must have feedback and be assessed. Plus you must have at least 5 hours of obseverations (live, video or a mixture of the 2).
The only other recognised name and would be accepted is the Trinity TESOL. However others could be argued to be if they match this criteria.
Structure of the CELTA:
I only know the CELTA as that is what I did but I know they are all very much the same.
The structure of the course is that each day is divided into 2 halves: morning and afternoon. One of which you have seminars of both grammar and teaching strategies and the other is teaching and observations. You start by teaching 20 mins of a lesson and by the end you teach full hour lessons (8 hours in total). Each time you teach you get feedback from your peers and mentors. Plus you get a grade from your mentor of either; “To Standard”, “Not To Standard” or “Above Standard”. About 90% of lesson assesed are “To Standard”, the other 2 are just for extreme cases. Most people finish with ‘Pass (C)’. If you do very well in the assignments and get a lot of “Above Standards” then you might get a ‘Pass B’ or a ‘Pass A’, but these are quite rare and even teachers who have taught for years don’t these grades.
Warning! – With most of the courses above you will find that their websites and advertising are a bit lenient with the truth. Here is my list of 8 common lies you might need to take into consideration when choosing a course.
As always if you want any help or advice with any of this please email me – firstname.lastname@example.org. I am very happy to help in any way I can.
Also if you are looking for more information you might find my post for prospective TEFL teachers useful. Or if you can’t afford a TEFL certificate or still planning to do an online/weekend TEFL you might my post about TEFLing without a TEFL (/CELTA) also useful.