With so many options out there, how do you know if the TEFL / TESOL course you’ve chosen is good, and worth your hard-earned money?
Should you do a course in your home country or in the location where you’d first like to teach?
Should you do an online course or an in-class course?
Are all TEFL courses equal? The straight answer to that is a resounding NO!
Here are some things to consider when deciding:
1. Is the course accredited by an external body?
TEFL accreditation: What is it and why is it important? When you’re getting started in TEFL and deciding which certification to take, one thing to keep in mind is whether or not the course provider is accredited. What is TEFL accreditation? So first of all, what is TEFL accreditation and what does it involve? TEFL accreditation is a form of quality assurance. An external organisation comes up with a set of standards which it believes providers should adhere to in order to deliver a quality training program. Why is TEFL accreditation important? The biggest problem with the TEFL industry is the lack of regulation. Anyone can create a TEFL course, market and sell it. Inevitably, this means that there are hundreds of courses to choose from, many of which are low quality. Some are even created as a means of exploiting badly informed potential trainees, with hollow promises of high quality training at rock bottom prices. So you can start to see why having a reputable, high quality accreditation behind a course can help both you and the training centre. Here are some advantages that might come from taking an accredited TEFL course:
It can ensure that you are receiving good quality training that has met the standards imposed by the accrediting body.
Accreditation may increase the chance that your TEFL certification will be recognised and trusted when it comes to finding a job.
The majority of employers will only consider applicants whose TEFL certification meets some minimum standards. Many employers, for example, require a course that is at least 100 hours in length and includes at least 6 hours of observed teaching practice. Accreditation from a body that sets these standards is one way for providers to give this guarantee to its trainees (it should be noted that our Destination TEFL courses are 140 hours).
You can look at accreditation as a form of protection. It is protection for yourself, to ensure that you aren’t being exploited by a shady TEFL course provider, and therefore to ensure that you aren’t throwing your hard-earned money down the drain on a low quality, untrusted or unrecognised course. It is protection for your future employers, who need to know that they are recruiting teachers who have received quality training. And it is protection for your students, who have the right to expect their English language trainer to be well qualified. See Destination TEFL's accreditation here:
2. Does the course have REAL reviews? Reviews from graduates on an independent review site, (not the TEFL provider’s own website) are also a good indication of the quality of a course. Destination TEFL is proud of their 120 verified reviews, at an average rating of 99% on GoOverseas.
3. Who are the course trainers? Before making your decision, you should also look at the team who will be doing the actual training on the course, and what qualifications and experience they have. They should not only have suitable qualifications, but also experience teaching in different situations. Be wary of any TEFL company which does not mention who will be doing the training as often unqualified and inexperienced trainers are hired. Meet the Destination TEFL team here.
4. Does the TEFL course offer REAL teaching practicum? Does the TEFL training centre incorporate teacher pracs with REAL students in a real classroom situation? Often, TEFL schools say they do teacher pracs, but they use the students themselves and do ‘peer teaching’. Teaching your peers is NOT the same and lessons with non-native English speakers. Quality feedback should also be provided after each teacher prac so that you can improve for the next lesson. Follow the TEFL school on social media to see if they go out to schools for their pracs.
This is one reason why doing your TEFL course back home is not always the best idea, as the chances are slim that you will be doing pracs with real EFL (English as a FOREIGN language) students, but more likely you’ll be doing them with ESL (English as a SECOND language) students. What this means is that English is not completely foreign to them, but they are already exposed to it on a daily basis in their home country, but as a second language. Even if these students are immigrants, they are still exposed to English daily in their new adopted country. Compare this to teaching English in a country such as Cambodia, South Korea or Costa Rica – where English is not a second language but a FOREIGN language to the students.
Both Destination TEFL courses offer pracs with both adult and young learners in a real classroom situation at local schools, businesses and NGOs.
5. Is there a support system after the course?
Does the TEFL/TESOL centre offer support with job placement, not only immediately after the course, but later too? Is there some sort of alumni group or forum for assistance with reference checks, job hunting and anything else you as a graduate may require? Be careful that you are not just a ‘number’ but that ongoing support is provided and that the TEFL training centre genuinely cares about their students and graduates. Destination TEFL offers a private Facebook jobs group, as well as a jobs portal via Asian College of Teachers. We also have closed Facebook groups for each course date, where you can interact with your classmates and trainers before, during and after the course. Certificates can be verified online by prospective employers and we are always available for letters of recommendation.
Is the TEFL / TESOL course in a location where you can see yourself spending a month? Remember that while a good course will be intensive, there should still be time after hours to explore the surroundings. We have chosen two bucket-list destinations for our courses – the first being on the postcard-perfect Choeng Mon Beach on the Thai island of Koh Samui, and the second in the cultural hub of Siem Reap, Cambodia, close to the world heritage site of Angkor Wat Temple Complex.
7. And finally…Price:
There’s the old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ or ‘you pay peanuts, you get monkeys’. Now while the most expensive isn’t always the best, you should be wary of any course that is greatly discounted. If you see an online course for $100 on Groupon – ask yourself just how good can it be? At that price, can the company really be employing staff to mark your assignments?
So considering this: an in-class course is always going to cost more than an online course. But… experience with teaching real students is invaluable. There are some things you just can’t learn online, and in our opinion, teaching is one of them.
So just like with sunscreen, get the best that you can afford. Rather look out for ‘buddy specials’, ‘Black Friday Deals’ or other promotions on real face-to-face, in-class courses. When it comes to applying for jobs, the schools and agents will in all cases, consider those with an in-class course with practicum over an online course. Because we understand that not everyone has 4 weeks to do their TEFL course, as well as afford the fees involved, we have launched a once-a-year BLENDED COURSE, which is a good compromise between a full 4-week in-class course and an online course.
This course is ideally suited to those who:
Only have 2 weeks free to do the course
Are on a budget and cannot afford the 4-week onsite course, but understand the benefits and importance of teacher practicum as well as -face-to-face training, which a fully online course does not offer.
What do we mean by ‘blended course’?
… in a nutshell, it’s a blend of an online course and an in-class course. The sections which are pure theory are completed online prior to attending the course. Thereafter, applicants will attend an intense 2 weeks of in-class training in Siem Reap, where the balance of the course will be taught by our trainers, lessons will be planned and trainees will put these lessons into practice at an English camp at a local NGO. The self-study theory will be tested during the in-class component.
Your first prize however should be a 4-week in-class course. You’ll actually make the cost of the course back quite quickly once you start teaching, so it’s money well spent, as an in-class course will usually come with extras like job placement, visa assistance, a support system, and of course you’ll make friends for life with like-minded class mates!