Review by teacher Kacey Andreotta for TEFL Heaven Mexico

TEFL, what’s it all about? By Kacey Andreotta

Are TEFL courses worth it?

TEFL courses can be expensive, but the benefits DEFINITELY outweigh the cost.

First and foremost, a TEFL certificate is reputable in countries all over the world. This means that you can get a job wherever your heart desires, you are employable across the globe!  

TEFL certified courses provide a standard measure of the knowledge a teacher has in specifically teaching students who are learning English as a second language. Learning another language can bring on many emotions: frustration, embarrassment, a lack of confidence, etc. By having a teacher who has completed a TEFL certified course, students will learn English using a plethora of activities that can actually make learning another language a lot of fun! TEFL courses provide teachers with tools to engage and excite students to learn and practice English by listening, writing and speaking. All three of these skills are equally as important when we are looking at developing the holistic language learner. 

Many fear that they will be “bad” teachers. However, by completing a TEFL course, you are given PRACTICE. Nobody expects you to be a perfect teacher. In fact, what is a perfect teacher? What is important is that your students are learning English. Through a TEFL course, you are given opportunities to observe teachers who have been teaching classes for longer, as well as actually teaching your own class. The beautiful thing about being a teacher, is everyone is willing to share their tools and give feedback on what does/doesn’t work for them. You can then try these techniques in your own class. Teaching is all about practice and trying different things until you get the result you are looking for. By being surrounded by other students and teachers, you can ask questions, ask for help, practice different teaching techniques, work out the “kinks” before you have your own class, and get a feel for what it is like. A TEFL course provides you with a space for lessons so that when it is time for you to take on your own class, you are ready to take on any student! 

Are TEFL and TESOL the same thing?

No, they are not! TEFL is an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. TESOL is an acronym for Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language. While these are both courses for teachers looking to teach English, the main difference is environment.

TEFL courses prepare teachers to teach English to students who live in countries where English IS NOT the native language. So you are teaching students who do not speak English, in a country that does not speak English. It is reputable around the globe, which makes it possible to get hired and may often be a requirement! Having a TEFL certification could also qualify you for a higher paying wage at said job! So this type of certification course is great for people who are looking to move abroad and teach English!

TESOL courses prepare teachers to teach English to students who live in a country where English IS or IS NOT the native language. If you are open to moving abroad or staying in an English speaking country, then TESOL may be a good option for you. TESOL courses tend to teach from a broader perspective than TEFL (TEFL focuses on a specific type of language learner). Also, TESOL is a new certification and therefore is not as reputable around the globe. Therefore, it could be a tad more difficult to find a job.  

Are all TEFL courses the same?

No, not all TEFL courses are the same! When it comes to picking the right program for you, you have some options! There are many different companies and you can complete these in-person or online! 

Taking an in person course provides many benefits! Not only do you get to sit in an actual classroom, with an actual teacher, but you get the real life feeling of being in the seat of the student. You have an instructor who can immediately answer any questions, help guide you through lesson plans, provide real life experience or stories, give you tips to try in your classroom, and the list goes on! By being in a classroom, you can learn from your teacher, as well as other students. You have a support system who is going through the same thing as you. You can observe each other, provide feedback for one another, and brainstorm activities together! In addition, if you do an in country course, you get the opportunity to travel, meet other teachers, make new friends and explore the place that could be your new home! In country courses also give you time for cultural adjustment. It will provide you with opportunities to get accustomed to the culture, language and food! They serve as a support system as you learn about your new home! 

Taking an online course also has its own set of benefits! You have the flexibility of taking the course at your own pace and when it is convenient for you! You course is conveniently located wherever your computer is! Therefore, you do not have to pay to move to another country (housing, flight, visa, etc), which can save you money! Generally speaking, an online course is cheaper, too! Also, There are also instructors and tutors that are available to assist you with any questions or concerns you may have (live chat, video chat). In addition, individuals can work full time or continue with university classes while they are takings the online TEFL course. But obviously it is never going to be the same holistic experience as completing a TEFL course within the host country itself. Many candidates struggle to take those next steps to teach English abroad after completing an online course in their home country.  

When looking into a TEFL certification course, you will want to search for a few things:

  1. accreditation
  2. 100+ hours
  3. Practicum
  4. Job placement assistance

The company you choose, should have everything you are looking for. Do not settle for a company that is not transparent, seems too good to be true, or doesn’t have your best interest at heart. You are paying a lot of money for a certification that will make you employable all over the world. You are investing in your future, so be sure to look for a company that values your business.

People always ask me if I completed an in person or online TEFL course and the answer is in person. The reason I chose this option was because I knew that I wanted to live and work in the country that I would be completing my TEFL course in. It would give me a preview of life in that country, provide me with a support system of other teachers around the world, give me opportunities to travel, while preparing me to be a successful TEFL teacher! All of these benefits are TRUE! In fact, I have yet (in the last 9 months) found any negatives to completing my course in country. The personal and professional development were worth every penny that I spent on the move and TEFL certificated course. When I invested in a great program, I was investing in my future. 

Are TEFL courses accredited?

Some TEFL programs are accredited. There is no single international governing board that is in charge of accrediting these programs. However, there are many small organizations that do provide accreditation. When a program is accredited, it is recognized in countries all over the world. It is important to look for a course that is accredited because it ensures that as a teacher, you are provided with an education that is of good quality and you will be prepared to teach students all over the world.

A tip while looking for a program is looking for a company that has a course with a minimum of 100 hours. A program that is recognized/accredited, usually provides a 100+ hour course to prospective teachers looking to teach in a TEFL setting.

Being accredited also comes with some job security. Schools around the globe will recognize your certification and trust the training you have received to provide engaging instruction to students. Schools are likely to offer you a job due to the training you have received because the accreditation provides a standardization of the curriculum you have been exposed to. Schools trust in the accreditation because they know that all teachers from that program will be prepared and have experience “in the field.”

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