CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Discussion about courses, qualifications etc

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jbaker1004
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CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Unread post by jbaker1004 » 22 Mar 2018, 17:41

I'm looking for some advice and insight on CELTA/TEFL certifications and their usefulness (or lack thereof) in the job world.

In the last few years I've gone through some major life changes and have decided to make a career jump and start teaching English abroad. Korea is the place I really want to go, though I might try teaching in other countries later on. I'm a native English speaker (from the USA) and have a Bachelor degree, which, from what I've read, are really the two main requirements for teaching in Asia.

Unfortunately, I have no education background - my degree is in Theatre Arts. I've read that many places don't care if you're TEFL certified, but that doesn't sit well for me, personally. I have never taught a class in my life and want to actaully know what I'm doing before diving in. I also saw that some of these programs offer job placement services, assistance with visa paperwork, etc., which would be awesome.

My problem is that I'm finding very few that offer in-person courses in my area (or even close by) and the ones that are offered are scheduled in a way that conflicts with my full-time job. I have bills and other financial obligations, so I can't just leave my job right now to do this. I'd take the time off and take an in-person course, but I highly doubt my job would be very supportive of me taking that much time off all at once. This leaves an online course with some kind of practicum as my only option.

My questions are:
1. CELTA or TEFL? Which would be better for someone with no prior teaching experience or training? Are these courses really good at preparing you for teaching and managing a classroom?
2. For online courses, which program would you recommend? Any thoughts about International TEFL Academy?
3. If I am able to take the time off from my full-time job, what in-class program would you recommend?
4. I was able to find an Oxford Seminars in-class program in my area. Over 3 weekends, it is a 100 hour course with a few additional 40 hour courses you can take on top. Anyone know if this is a good program? Not worth the money?
5. Realistically, how much more attention is given to one program over the another when it comes to applying for jobs? Or is it just the fact that you completed a program that matters?
6. My aunt is a retired special ed teacher and still has connections with schools in the area that could lead to assisting or shadowing in the classrom (I still have to research what to do to be eligible for this, though). If I'm able to do it, would supplementing an online program and practicum with this additional classroom experience help my chances at finding a job?
7. Do you have any other advice for someone just starting in this profession?

Apologies for the long post. I'm a worrier, so any insight you have would be most appreciated. Thank you!

skye
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Re: CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Unread post by skye » 23 Mar 2018, 03:00

I have the same questions. Also look in the country you want to teach in and call or email the school and ask what credentials that country takes. I just found out the CELTA is recommended in Spain the country of my choice.
be patient for answers.

Briona
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Re: CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Unread post by Briona » 23 Mar 2018, 07:30

Hi there and welcome to the forum,
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
1. CELTA or TEFL? Which would be better for someone with no prior teaching experience or training? Are these courses really good at preparing you for teaching and managing a classroom?
The first thing to understand is that TEFL, TESL, and TESOL are just acronyms for the industry as opposed to being a specific course. By virtue of that, all courses are TEFL courses; the Celta is a brand name, but it's still a TEFL course.

There are two types of TEFL course: online/blended, and four-week, face-to-face intensive courses. The difference (aside from price) is that the latter include a minimum of 6hrs of observed and assessed teaching practice with REAL students, which is something an increasing number of employers look for. Note that the classroom-/weekend-based element of online/blended courses is NOT the same thing as you 'teach' your fellow trainees.

It's worth noting that qualifications from online/blended courses are categorically NOT accepted in countries where English is the first language, e.g., US, UK, Australia, etc., or in the Middle East. Additionally, all decent employers in Europe will expect you to have a more reputable qualification, such as the Celta or Trinity CertTESOL.
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
2. For online courses, which program would you recommend? Any thoughts about International TEFL Academy?
Online TEFL courses are much of a muchness. If an employer accepts one, they'll accept them all. Make sure the course you choose is a minimum of 120hrs as that is the industry standard. Anything less is not worth the paper it's written on.
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
3. If I am able to take the time off from my full-time job, what in-class program would you recommend?
The most well-known and reputable courses are the Cambridge Celta and the Trinity CertTESOL. However, the American SIT TESOL, and the Australian Cert IV in TESOL are equally good, just less well-known. There are also a number of accepted equivalents in various countries. Basically, you're looking for a course of 120hrs with a minimum of 6hrs of observed and assessed teaching practice with real students.

If you can't take time off work to do one of the courses, you might consider doing it abroad at the start of your overseas adventure. Choose a country you want to teach in, check out the visa situation, and then move there to do the course. This would give you teaching practice with students from that country, as well as links to local employers through your course provider.
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
4. I was able to find an Oxford Seminars in-class program in my area. Over 3 weekends, it is a 100 hour course with a few additional 40 hour courses you can take on top. Anyone know if this is a good program? Not worth the money?
I wouldn't touch that course. It's only 100hrs as opposed to the industry standard of 120hrs, and it doesn't include teaching practice with real students. While some employers will accept it, many won't.
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
5. Realistically, how much more attention is given to one program over the another when it comes to applying for jobs? Or is it just the fact that you completed a program that matters?
While a recognisable name helps, it isn't just about that. If your course is less than 120hrs, you'll be passed over in favour of applicants who have a qualification that meets the industry standard. If an employer wants you to have a qualification that included real teaching practice and you did an online course, your application will be discarded. Trying to save money now will have an impact on where you can work in the future. And, as regulations right around the world continue to be tightened up, I wouldn't advise anyone to cut corners now.
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
6. My aunt is a retired special ed teacher and still has connections with schools in the area that could lead to assisting or shadowing in the classrom (I still have to research what to do to be eligible for this, though). If I'm able to do it, would supplementing an online program and practicum with this additional classroom experience help my chances at finding a job?
Unfortunately not. Shadowing someone or assisting in a classroom isn't equivalent to having a qualification that included observed and assessed teaching practice. You either have a TEFL course that meets requirements or you don't. Those with degrees in a relevant field, e.g., TESOL, English language, etc., might be able to get away with having an online TEFL course (the exception being in the Middle East), as would qualified and experienced primary/secondary school teachers.
jbaker1004 wrote:
22 Mar 2018, 17:41
7. Do you have any other advice for someone just starting in this profession?
Don't try to save money or time by completing a substandard course. Sooner or later, you'll find you can't work where you want to because you made a bad choice initially. Furthermore, the better employers and the ones who are safer to go abroad with will require you to have a reputable qualification.

Avoid internships/classroom assistant jobs, and guaranteed job placements. In the case of the former, you'll be doing exactly the same work as teachers who organised their own jobs, but you'll be paid a fraction of the money. Meanwhile, the agency who placed you in the job will be raking it in. Guaranteed job placements are a misnomer. Unless a course provider is prepared to offer you a job themselves, no-one can guarantee you a position. And even if they could, it is far better to do your own research and know what you're signing up for.

Research, research, research! DON'T rely on others to do this for you. DON'T take the advice of a single post on the internet because it says what you want to hear. GOOGLE any prospective employers - LinkedIn is great for connecting you to people who work(ed) there. KNOW what your chosen country's visa requirements are, and what to do if things go wrong.

Hope that helps, and if you have any other questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

Briona
Experience teaching in Vietnam, Portugal, Poland, Spain, the UK, and Qatar

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John V55
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Re: CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Unread post by John V55 » 29 Mar 2018, 01:11

Should I or shouldn’t, what’s the best course, what shall I do … If you’re young and serious about teaching as a career consider talking the full teaching qualification. TEFL is for the quick fix-it and those of us too old to start again, it’s the shortcut to teaching and pays accordingly. TEFL, CELTA or TESOL, if you’re heading East, doesn’t matter and neither does the issuing authority. A no no is online certificates and as previously stated, they require a minimum set of hours and actual practice included. Outside the west at the TEFL stage, very few people have ever heard of the institution you’ll get your expensive western TEFL certificate from.

At the TEFL stage the employer is interested whether you have actual experience of standing in front of a class and most reputable ones will require a demonstration lesson before they hire you. A TEFL course teaches you the basic theory, but class management http://changemyworld.forumotion.com/t31 ... management is something you’ll learn as you go along. Additionally, few companies or schools are going to pay your air fare for holding a TEFL certificate and so the best way is to relocate to countries such as Thailand or Cambodia, do your TEFL course in the resident country, a few months voluntary work to get some practice and a reference and away you go. After a couple of years you can then move on to the higher paid ones with better conditions like China and S. Korea.

TEFL at certificate level isn’t something you grow up to aspire to. There is nothing glamorous about TEFL abroad, different yes, but it’s not a career choice. Depending on how much your current F/T jobs pays and if you have a reasonably good lifestyle from that, stick with it, or as I suggest, go the whole way and get yourself fully qualified. You’re wise to be a worrier as it’s a big life changing decision. At certificate level TEFL is the Foreign Legion of education http://changemyworld.forumotion.com/t6-tefl-job-seekingand from afar it resembles a calm deep blue sea, but a lot of it is infested with two legged sharks and it’s something to be aware of.
Change My World: Politics, education & emigration http://changemyworld.forumotion.com

jbaker1004
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Re: CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Unread post by jbaker1004 » 30 Mar 2018, 17:01

Thank you all. Teaching abroad isn't something I'm taking lightly and I'm doing my best to maintain realistic expectations, so the advice really helps.

I have thought about going back to get an education degree, but I'll be 35 in the fall and feel like I'd be starting too late. I think I just need to break down and call the universities in my area to see what getting another degree would entail so that I have a better grasp on my options. I'll also try to steer towards the in-class TEFL courses and do more research on the courses abroad.

As far as sticking with my current F/T job, it's not something I want to do forever. I don't hate it, but it's certainly not my life's passion. Not to mention the fact that I really don't want to stay in the same area, geographically speaking (I've lived within the same 250 mile radius my whole life and grow less and less happy here as years go by). Also, the pay and benefits are far less than ideal. If I'm going to have to put up with that, then I'd rather be doing something I actually enjoy while getting to travel (which I absolutely love, though hardly ever get to do) and experience life and cultures outside my tiny sphere. I don't expect to make a fortune teaching abroad and know that it won't be an easy road, and that's okay with me. If I can earn enough to be relatively comfortable, have a modest savings, and hopefully put money towards some kind of retirement fund, that's all I really need. I'm not put off by the hard work required to make it happen.

Again, thank you for taking the time to respond.

If anyone else has anything to add, the advice is more than welcome.

Jen

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John V55
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Re: CELTA or TEFL for those with no teaching background?

Unread post by John V55 » 31 Mar 2018, 02:12

You could try doing the one year PGCE teaching qualification as it’s called in the UK, the US must have an equivalent. Failing that, at 35 you have twenty years of almost guaranteed Asian employment in front of you. Start in the less developed countries like Thailand and Cambodia and after two or three years you’ll have the experience and references to head to countries like China where the salaries are much higher. When you look at what countries are paying, remember that the cost of living here is probably three times less than in the west. A word of warning: Stay clear of the anonymous fantasists with their pot of gold salaries, the truth is a TEFL certificate isn’t worth the equivalent of $100k in the US and invariably leads to scams – unless of course you’re a qualified teacher in the rich Gulf States. Also, factor in the cost of living, free medical care, the paid holidays, free accommodation … If it’s also adventure you’re looking for you’ll certainly find that! http://changemyworld.forumotion.com/t4- ... r-mongolia

I’ve been in Asia for a decade and have no regrets. I have a middle-class lifestyle here and I easily paid off a mortgage in Thailand after six years of TEFL working in China, plus saved towards my retirement. There are things I like and don’t like, but overall I have no regrets and remember, you only get one life and you’re at the right age to give it a go. You’re old enough to have the responsibility and maturity employers are looking for, yet young enough to get the pick of the best jobs. Welcome to TEFL. :)
Change My World: Politics, education & emigration http://changemyworld.forumotion.com

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