Teacher Training FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions About Training to Teach English

I am EMT (English mother tongue). Do I really need a special TEFL certificate or training?
First of all, a good TEFL certificate will open a lot of doors. Secondly, with the experience gained by working for a TEFL certificate you will be well-equipped to teach under many different conditions. You will have much more confidence, not to mention competence. However, some schools do accept untrained teachers. Be prepared to accept a lower salary without training, and perhaps to be taken advantage of. If you are serious about a TEFL career, especially in more competitive countries, you would be well advised to get yourself a good TEFL certificate.

How quickly can I get a TEFL certificate?
Very quickly, comparatively. Even the world's most widely acknowledged TEFL certificates take only about 4 weeks if you do them as intensive courses. There are other TEFL certificate courses that can be accomplished in less than 4 weeks, or even over a weekend in the case of introductory or refresher courses. Some of these courses can also be done part-time over, say, a year or 18 months.

Are there any online (distance-learning) TEFL courses?
Yes there are, and they are becoming increasingly common and popular. Their advantages are price and convenience, and they can be very useful as an introduction to TEFL. But you should recognize that an important component of any serious TEFL course is teaching practice with real, live students. Institutions that offer onsite training usually also offer language courses to students, and so have a ready pool of guinea-pigs for their trainee teachers. With online courses, teaching practice may or may not be included. Some online courses do arrange teaching practice for you locally with partner schools, or require you to provide video-taped demos of your own lessons (if you are already teaching) to satisfy many employers' practicum requirements.

So which TEFL certificate is best?
It's important to realize that the simple terms "TEFL" and "TESOL" have no official significance whatsoever. Consequently, the terms "TEFL Certificate" or "TESOL Certificate" do not of themselves endow a certificate with recognition. The best TEFL/TESOL training courses are externally validated, ie they are vetted and checked by a body that is officially recognized—such as UCLES (University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate). A good question to ask any course provider, therefore, is: "Is your course externally validated, and if so by whom?" Three widely recognized certificates are the Cambridge CELTA, the Trinity CertTESOL and the SIT TESOL Certificate, though there are a growing number of other certificates that are reputable and well recognized.

How do I find a TEFL course?
You can look in the TEFL Course Database, which lists TEFL-type teacher training courses worldwide, including online courses. Or check out any local British Council office, university or language school, many of whom offer TEFL courses or may be able to advise you. ELT magazines and newspapers such as the EL Gazette also carry listings or advertisements for TEFL courses. If you are in a really out of the way spot and simply cannot find something suitable, try asking at the TEFL.net Teacher Forums.

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