|Note: We mainly use the term TEFL on these pages but in most cases the terms TESOL/TESL could equally well be used.|
Frequently Asked Questions
Specialized TEFL Courses
ICT/Teaching online/Teaching with technology courses
Is it possible to learn everything about ICT without doing a course? Are there other ways of preparing to be an online English teacher?
It is both possible and fairly easy to organise your own training in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies), even for people who consider themselves to be technophobes. As technophile teachers spend a lot of time online, there is loads of free information available on the internet. There are also several ELT books on the topic.
Is anyone likely to ask for a qualification in ICT or teaching online before they employ me?
No, but it might help when applying for popular jobs with employers who pride themselves on their use of teaching technology, e.g. the British Council.
What is the most recognised course in ICT/teaching online?
Perhaps the best known courses are the Electronic Village Online (EVO) sessions from Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages Inc. (TESOL) that take place in January and February every year. These sessions are also free. TESOL also offer the (paid) Principles and Practices of Online Teaching Certificate Program. There is also the new Certificate in Teaching Languages with Technology (CertICT) offered by The Consultants-E and validated by Trinity College London (two very well-known training organisations).
TEFL degrees/Degrees in TEFL
What is a “TEFL degree”?
A proper TEFL degree is more commonly known as a “degree in TEFL” and is a Bachelor’s course in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It is taken through a university and would take three or four years full-time, the same as any other undergraduate degree course. As teaching is a practical skill, it would make most sense for a degree in TEFL to be offered by an education department and involve lots of observed and graded teaching practice. For that reason, few campus-based universities offer degrees in TEFL, although it is sometimes possible to combine TEFL with other related subjects such as foreign languages. Most BAs in TEFL are offered by online degree providers, often in conjunction with TEFL course providers, and should be treated with a certain amount of suspicion (as they probably will be by future employers). A few course providers refer to their TEFL certificate as a TEFL degree, which is a gross and willful exaggeration of the level of a TEFL certificate.
National/state qualifications in TEFL
What is a PGCE?
PGCE stands for Postgraduate Certificate in Education, and is the standard postgraduate teaching qualification in the UK (the other option being a four-year Bachelor of Education). It is also now offered as a distance qualification for people who want to work in international schools. It is roughly equivalent to state teaching qualifications in the US, but much more standardised.
What’s the difference between a PGCE in TEFL and a PGCE in TESOL?
In the UK, TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) is often used to mean teaching people who want to settle in an English-speaking country, such as immigrants and refugees, and is contrasted with TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language, meaning to people who need English in their own country, for travel or to work or study abroad). The content of those two PGCEs tends to reflect that distinction.
How does a PGCE in TEFL/state teaching qualification/national teaching qualification compare to other TEFL qualifications?
Many people say that a PGCE is more or less equivalent to a TEFL diploma, and the same is probably true of most national or state teaching qualifications. As a diploma is generally only available to people with at least two years’ teaching experience, that usually makes a national or state teaching qualification in TEFL the highest possible initial qualification. You will, however, probably need to explain exactly what your course consisted of to prospective employers, including how many hours of observed and graded teaching practice were included and the ages of students.
I already have a state/national teaching qualification in TESOL. Do I need to get a TEFL certificate to get a job abroad?
As long as your qualification had at least six hours of observed teaching practice and wasn’t too specific to teaching in your country, it should be considered equivalent. Many people with a state or national teaching qualification still find a TEFL certificate a useful introduction to a different way of teaching, though, especially if they are switching from kids to adults or vice-versa. Having a well-recognised qualification such as the CELTA also helps with recruiters who are too busy to read CVs carefully.
Courses for TEFL teacher trainers
What course should I take in order to become a teacher trainer?
Although some course providers have specialist courses for people who want to become teacher trainers, these are usually a waste of money. The vast majority of people who get into teacher training do so by getting a TEFL Diploma and/or MA in TESOL, joining a language school that also trains teachers and then applying for teacher training jobs as they become available. They are then trained on the job.
Should I take a course in teacher training?
It can’t hurt your ability to do the job, but it is unlikely to help you get work, especially as the most well-known and well-respected certificating bodies such as Trinity and Cambridge don’t offer such courses.