TEFL----SO CONFUSED

Discussion about courses, qualifications etc

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spccdt1229
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Joined: 16 Oct 2016, 00:38
Status: Prospective Teacher

TEFL----SO CONFUSED

Unread post by spccdt1229 » 16 Oct 2016, 00:57

Hi all, first time poster. Here's my situation: I'm 31 years old with a 4 year bachelor's degree and itching to get out of the country and try something totally different! I've actually thought about teaching abroad for years, just recently decided I'm ready. For about 6 months recently, I joined a local volunteer literacy group and had twice weekly sessions with a young Chinese man (mainly conversation practice, but some vocab building as well). That's the extent of my qualifications. I don't want to spend money I don't have on in person certification, as I don't know whether this could turn into a career or not. CELTA can always come later, right? I've heard everything about online courses, from "they're useless", to "it's mostly useless, but could give you the upper hand over another candidate without one", to those who fully endorse it, if for no other reason thana grammar refresh, learning about classroom mgmt., etc.

Also, I'm really confused about what kind of job I can get in China, Korea, Thailand, or Japan. To what extent would an online tefl cert. help in each of these. As I said, I'm looking to get my passport in order and get over there rather quickly. I wouldn't want to get everything in order and not be able to find a decent job for several months or more.
I was going to just do a cheap one just in case (ITTT, $240 USD). Is that a good idea, or should I just sell the car, sublet the apartment and start applying :) Any guidance is appreciated!

Phil_2016
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Joined: 20 Aug 2016, 13:41
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Re: TEFL----SO CONFUSED

Unread post by Phil_2016 » 16 Oct 2016, 13:40

There's some guy on here, fairly recent post who did a CELTA and regretted it as he failed, so a lot of money and some time down the toilet. So I would be careful before pursuing a CELTA, prepare well, by some books in advance, revise grammer & pronunciation, watch You Tube, etc.

For the online/weekend, TEFL all I know is avoid Europe as its pretty much all CELTA or equivalent there unless maybe for a tin pot holiday camp or somewhere real dirt poor isolated end of Europe.

I've done a TEFL recently, online with 2 day weekend. I would say its essential to find a two day weekend in with the online, its usually very little more and will give you a better idea of whats involved as a TEFL teacher than just hammering away on the online course that material wise is the same just more dry going.

What I have learnt is native language speakers are place above those of foreign speaker of English who wish to teach TEFL, and those native speakers with a degree like you and I are near the top. The very top tends to consist of Native speaker with an English degree, with CELTA and with several years experience, but of course they are not an everyday occurrence. Though a good personality may help whatever the situation of course.

Main thing I think you need to think about is whether a TEFL job in China, etc can support you financially. People band around crazy figures and some job adverts may be misleading. If your looking to do this long term then I would say at some point go for CELTA & get experience in your home country first if you can for a reasonable time. Either way, make sure you have back up finances in a safe place, preferably more the one as you don't want to end up in a bad situation over in the Far East for lack of money.

Myself I just did TEFL as I'm just in it for some casual work over in Russia (from the UK) and I'll be making sure my finances alone without work will support me whilst over there. TEFL online/weekend courses are fine to get an idea of what out need to do, but they are only really an introduction. Some people go on TEFL as they want to just volunteer to help migrants to read, others expectations might be thought of as a bit ill thought out considering it is just a weekend/online course. You have to be reasonable in what you are likely to get out, as the old saying goes 'you get out what you put in'. For some TEFL is a waste of time, perhaps for foreigners or those after a career in a area where TEFL just doesn't cut it, or those just unlucky.

Many jobs advertised on many sites offering training has been called in question whether they really exist.

What I am saying is you need to understand what your requirements are, if your going for one months to an area where foreigners let alone TEFL teachers seldom visit then a weekend/online course may be fine. If its for several months like you seem to be suggesting and a possible long term career or a distinct need to have a job then maybe look more at CELTA.

Briona
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Re: TEFL----SO CONFUSED

Unread post by Briona » 17 Oct 2016, 08:41

spccdt1229 wrote:I don't want to spend money I don't have on in person certification, as I don't know whether this could turn into a career or not. CELTA can always come later, right?
If you want to teach, the very least you should do is invest in a TEFL qualification. Quite aside from the fact that being able to speak a language does not necessarily imply that you can teach it, students pay a lot of money for English classes and, not unreasonably, expect to have a teacher who has some idea of what they are doing. In any case, you may find that, in addition to a Bachelor's degree (related or unrelated), a TEFL qualification may well be a requirement of the work visa.
spccdt1229 wrote:I've heard everything about online courses, from "they're useless", to "it's mostly useless, but could give you the upper hand over another candidate without one", to those who fully endorse it, if for no other reason thana grammar refresh, learning about classroom mgmt., etc.
Online TEFL courses are much of a muchness - if an employer accepts one, they'll accept them all. However, an increasing number of employers refuse point-blank to accept them, not least because they don't include any real teaching practice. FYI the weekend or classroom-based element of online/blended TEFL courses don't not count as you 'teach' your fellow trainees rather than actual students.

If you want to teach in a native English-speaking country, or you have your sights set on the Middle East, or you are interested in working in Western Europe (not really an option for North Americans), you will need to invest in a more reputable face-to-face course, such as the Cambridge CELTA, the Trinity CertTESOL, the American SIT TESOL or the Australian Cert IV TESOL. Contrary to popular opinion, these are initial teacher training courses, aimed at complete newbies. Teachers who've taught for years and then do the CELTA tend to do less well because they have to 'unlearn' all the bad habits they've picked up.
spccdt1229 wrote: Also, I'm really confused about what kind of job I can get in China, Korea, Thailand, or Japan. To what extent would an online tefl cert. help in each of these.
Although I briefly worked in Asia (Vietnam), my area of expertise is Europe. My advice, therefore, would be to visit the relevant forums on Dave's ESL Café (http://forums.eslcafe.com/job/) and put your questions to people who are currently working in your preferred countries. Be advised that there are some VERY snarky posters on there. If you can see past this, you will find a wealth of information.
Experience teaching in Vietnam, Portugal, Poland, Spain, the UK, and Qatar

Phil_2016
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Re: TEFL----SO CONFUSED

Unread post by Phil_2016 » 17 Oct 2016, 21:00

Worth also stating OP that many foreigners who speak fluent English and want to teach English to other foreigners do not know how to order a lot of sentences, most they do, but some they don't or are unsure off, or the correct tense to use in some situations. This surprised me but apparently it generally is the case with many foreigners that are fluent, as a native English speaker we learn it from an early age naturally and grow up with it with little formal teaching being needed. Ok, many native English speakers will occasionally mess up in their English grammar somewhere, my English is no doubt not perfect, I'm not really a heavy English language anorak type. Though some people from Russia that I have already communicated with in English over the internet through email, etc have commended me on my English as they found it straight forward to read. I found out they also email Americans who tend to work a lot more slang into their formal English, anyway I digress.

Point being is that many English schools abroad rightly or wrongly go for native speakers with bachelor degrees. I can see the attraction as while a foreign English language teacher may be all very good for the reason stated above native speakers tend to have a natural advantage even though they might not be as good - how ever that is determined. That said as Briona correctly states some sort of training is really essential. Even a TEFL will give you the basics, a weekend course will give you an idea of what is required as a language teacher, even practising on other students is a start, without that you will likely be way off the mark. TEFL is only basic though, I mean everyone really passes, so its not difficult, its more training than an actual bone fide qualification - its not really an official qualification just a certificate from the company. For many far flung countries its fine as they just need someone but for more developed regions & full on career CELTA is the way to go.

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