If you start thinking about doing a teach abroad program, one of the main things to consider is how to do your TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. There are different options for in-person TEFL training and a range of online options – they all vary in length, coverage and of course price. I did my TEFL course through the program offered by TEFL Heaven – I did a four-week in-person training on the ground in Vietnam, and I consider this was the best option to choose. Here are some reasons why.
While online courses may offer some convenience in terms of more flexibility as to when you want to do the work, or sometimes relatively cheaper prices, the in-person trainings have the absolute advantage of daily face-to-face interaction with experienced teachers who give you hands-on practical knowledge and share their experience – for a person with no previous teaching background, it is extremely important to get practical skills and knowledge. Teaching your first actual class if you don’t have previous experience will still feel like jumping from a high cliff into the ocean, but the practical experience you get during the in-person course will be there to make the swimming process easier!
You get to work with other TEFL students which is always more fun than working by yourself for an online course. Every person has their own teaching style, their own approach to teaching and working together is an excellent opportunity to learn from each other in a very dynamic and fun environment. In the TEFL course I did through TEFL Heaven, we had 12 students from 4 countries – the four-week course passed like a day, and every single day of it I learned something new and interesting, and enjoyed the company of great people who were on the same adventure as I was.
With the in-person TEFL course, you get to observe real-life classes taught by experienced teachers. Then you get to actually teach yourself (and be observed by experienced teachers who then provide you very valuable practical feedback on how you did), and you get exposed to classes of different age and proficiency level. This is when you can actually practice all the knowledge you got during the TEFL course, and adjust your teaching and your methodologies based on your own first hand practical experience. I did not have any teaching background when I was doing the TEFL course, and I found these teaching practices extremely valuable, and also very much fun.
A very important advantage of doing an in-person TEFL course on the ground in the country of your choice (as compared to online alternatives) is the insider knowledge you get on the country’s teaching scene. This is something you cannot find online – advantages and disadvantages of different types of schools, specifics and ranges of salaries, teaching approaches and schools preferences in terms of teachers, etc. All this is very valuable and important information you will get from your TEFL course teachers.
Learning to teach is also about learning to do all sorts of goofy staff from acting in the classroom to doing all sorts of arts and crafts if you are working with kids. In an in-person TEFL course you get to learn these things as well – trying all sorts of games and activities, learning to make different arts and crafts that you can use in the classroom and having fun with your fellow students.
Having done my four-week TEFL course in Vietnam, I can wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone considering a teach abroad journey or a TEFL certification – I started working right after the course, and have been using the knowledge and skills gained from the course daily in my work.
Put aside your doubts and go for it – you will enjoy every single day of your TEFL course, and will get the benefits once you start working!