A question I get asked often is how to evaluate and chose from all the TEFL/TESOL programs out there. I would like to pose a few questions that prospective teachers can ask themselves to find what kind of certification program will best suit them.
Where would you like to teach?
Different countries have different requirements, so would you like to teach locally or pick one of the many exotic and interesting ESL destinations out there? If you would like to teach in your own country, most public schools require a teaching degree or diploma, not a TEFL/TESOL Certificate; however, your certificate will help you land a job in a private language institute, of which there are many! If you decide to teach abroad, it is advisable to rather get a TEFL/TESOL Certification. Most teaching jobs in South and Central America do require a TEFL/TESOL Certification, while schools and institutes in Asia generally require a degree (in any field), not a TEFL/TESOL Certificate. Nonetheless, having a TEFL/TESOL certification does help you rise above in the pay scale. Visit www.TEFL.com or Dave’s ESL café at www.eslcafe.com to look at the requirements in various countries to help you decide.
Where to do your TEFL/TESOL Certification?
Again, it is important to decide where you would like to end up, before you decide where to do your certification. You can find many fine TEFL institutes at home or in most Latin American countries, Prague, Thailand, you name it! The benefit of doing your certification in the country where you would like to teach is that your TEFL institute usually has contacts that can help you land a job once you have graduated. Of course, if you would like to teach at home, doing your certificate abroad is a great way to get hands on experience of teaching English in a foreign country to non-native speakers.
Choosing Online, hybrid or in-class TEFL courses
Generally, the best-paying schools and institutes prefer in-class certifications of 100+ hours and a practical component. However, if you work full-time and have limited leave available for an in-class course, hybrid, or online programs offer more flexibility. Hybrid programs require teachers to do a theoretical component independently, before completing a practical component in-country. Most 100% online courses are not as widely accepted, since they are mostly based on theory with no practical component. It is thus important to try and find online programs with a practical teaching component, such as the program at Maximo Nivel, where you teach online with a non-native student using a virtual classroom.
Course content is an important consideration. I did my TEFL/TESOL Certification in Taiwan, which focused mostly on teaching children. I learned a lot about classroom management and using games, but had no Grammar at all, which left me at a loss when teaching adults. In my opinion, in order to be best prepared for any ESL classroom be sure to find a course that offers: classroom management, lesson planning, a grammar review, and, most importantly, a practical teaching component with feedback from an experienced ESL professional.
Once you have picked a location and found a selection of TEFL/TESOL institutes that meet your requirements, be sure to use your social media to read as much as you can about them. There is always the risk of ESL scams out there and it is better to be safe than sorry. Most reputed TEFL/TESOL institutes should have their own webpage or facebook page and should show up in a few blogs. Pick the one that has the most positive reviews and reach out the ex-students to help you prepare for what is to come!