Effectiveness of TEFL

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Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby OneScot » 30 Aug 2012, 18:22

Hello, I am David a soon to be graduate with a bad case of wanderlust. I plan to travel immediately after my graduation and am considering working some TEFL in, both provide some extra funds and do something vaguely worthwhile. However, I have read a few fairly scathing attacks on the profession, usually hinging on the effectiveness of the education ultimately provided by the teachers. Having not actually experiences the 120+ hour industry standard I don't know how well it actually prepares you and to what effectiveness you can teach a class.

What I am really asking is, do TEFL courses adequately prepare you for teaching, and is there any firm evidence to show that being taught by someone trained in the 120+ hour method leads to good levels of English.
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Re: Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby OneScot » 30 Aug 2012, 19:34

Also can I add, as a disclaimer, that I am currently operating on very little sleep and that may be why the above looks like it was written by a drunk toddler.
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Re: Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby Alex Case » 30 Aug 2012, 22:23

I don't think such a piece of research is even theoretically possible - how would their progress be tested, who would the 120+ hours teachers be compared to, which of the hundreds of teaching contexts people go on to would be tested, etc etc.

I think the best way of thinking about a TEFL course is that it is (was?) officially described as TEFL-I for initial, and you become TEFL-Q for qualified when you take your diploma at least two years later. However, the vast majority of people who take TEFL courses are very complimentary about how much they learn in such as short time, and that includes quite a lot of people who have also taken PGCEs and MAs.
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Re: Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby OneScot » 30 Aug 2012, 22:41

Well any research needn't compare, things can be shown as ineffectual without comparing it to a preferable situation.

But, forgetting any official research because, as you outline, it would be ridiculously convoluted, do you think that TEFL-I prepares people adequately for teaching? I'd have a degree in English Literature (with a year of English Language) next year so technically I understand English to a reasonable level, I just worry about teaching with 4 weeks preparation.

(Being very new to this I'm assuming (always a dangerous thing to do!) that in the two years inbetween TEFL-I and TEFL-Q you are expected to garner teaching experience?)
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Re: Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby Alex Case » 01 Sep 2012, 00:46

First of all, because they basically discontinued the TESOL PGCE (presumably because most of the graduates left the country sooner or later) and anyway it is/ was specific to teaching immigrants in the UK, a four week TEFL with at least six hours of observed and graded teaching practice is the most education you can get before your first teaching job. Most people feel fairly confident about then stepping in front of paid customers, but if you think you might not be, your options are:
- Prepare as much as you can before the course, e.g. with these suggestions of mine:
http://edition.tefl.net/articles/traini ... for-celta/
- Do a CELTA etc part-time and do some English teaching at the same time, e.g. volunteering, doing one to one classses, or doing online teaching
- Make sure your first job is with a chain such as International House that has loads of support for teachers (you'll probably need to specifically do a Cambridge CELTA or Trinity Cert TESOL to be guaranteed a job with them, but other certs might be okay if you are flexible about location)
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Re: Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby OneScot » 01 Sep 2012, 10:17

Thanks! All very good ideas indeed, and very helpful. If most people do feel confident about actually doing the job that is a big boost, I seem to only read the bad bits where folk are thrown in at the deep end with only one of the 20 hour online courses and given no support.

Anyways, thanks for your help you assuaged a lot of doubts!
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Re: Effectiveness of TEFL

Unread postby kaithegreene » 06 Sep 2012, 06:30

Hi David,

As a CELTA tutor we can assume that I'm biased in favour of CELTA.

I also work as an in-house teacher trainer with the teachers at the school I am based at, and conduct a number of lesson observations both as a means to supporting professional development and with an element of quality control. My experience has been that the teachers who have taken CELTA or the Trinity CertTESOL certainly seem to have a better grip of the teaching/learning dynamic and classroom management than those who have done shorter, often on-line courses with no practical classroom element. They also seem to have a better time in the classroom and less problems.

Is your question whether one can turn an ordinary individual mortal into a teacher in 120 hours? If this is your question, the answer is.....Yes, sort of. Some CELTA graduates are able to hold their own independantly in the EFL classroom, some continue to need some support (which should be available in a decent school), and some simply have sufficient to get on with the job and learn/develop as they go along. Remember that in any field we aren't usually expert when we begin, and our performance benefits tremendously from experience. A CELTA or TrinityCert will give you enough to get started and build on - and it's a great way to see the world, and as you say do something worthwhile.

Good luck!
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