TEFL and TESOL FAQ's
TEFL - TESOL - Frequent ask questions
1. There are so many TEFL and TESOL certificate courses around - How do I know which is the one for me?
As you can see, there are many schools out there. Many are professionally managed and have competent, qualified teachers. Unfortunately, anyone can set up a TEFL or teaching training center, and there is no law to prevent this and there is nothing to prevent you from being "ripped off" by a company offering so-called recognized certificates. Due to the large numbers of teachers required in some countries, there have been a lot of weekend, correspondence, or other courses been set up. It maybe cheap to get your slip of paper, but you may not get the job you want with this afterwards. We have many students who come to us, graduates from other schools, because they finally realised that they want a decent job.
We don’t only provide you with the “real” thing, but will also make sure you are placed into a good and well paid job!
Naturally, you want to compare, and we surely hope you do, because it is in our all interest to keep up the high quality of teaching, keep up a decent wage, and arrive at a school (teaching later on) where your predecessor did a good job!
Below we put together some important things to watch out for comparing courses:
Make sure, that at least 100 hours of time spent in the classroom, with a qualified, experienced instructor studying how to be a teacher.
Check that at least 6 hours spent actually teaching “real students”, this means students who are foreign to the English language under the direction and supervision of a trained, experienced teacher
Check that there is some kind of overseeing body (a university or examining board) that externally controls quality. Employers have been around for a long time and they are looking for certificates that meet or exceed the above criteria. Courses that do not meet these criteria will not be recognized as certificates.
Decide weather you really want to study in your own country. The very best chances you have, if you study in the country where you might want to work. Naturally, all TEFL / TESOL courses are conducted in English) Your teaching practise will be done in this environment, you get to know the local do’s and don’t do’s.
Make sure that the TEFL or TESOL school will help you find a job and does not charge for this service.
Be very suspicious about courses at the cost of less than € 1000 (US $800), unless you do a work- and study program, or your employer is paying for the course (such as our PELT program, where the employer actually pays for your course). It is just not possible to offer the service and have the trained staff, pay rent of a decent school building with all the facilities, below this amount.
Check that there are no hidden costs – Examination fees, extra for a grammar course (which you will require! and is included in our course), job placement fees, fees for materials and books, teaching practise fees, a joining fee.
Don’t do correspondence courses. You can’t learn how to swim without water!
2. What is the difference between TESOL and TEFL? What is CELTA?
For all intents and purposes these terms mean the same. TESOL is more common in America and with the Institute of Education in London. In UK and Ireland, it is more common to refer to the courses as TEFL. Employers and Language Schools refer more to a TEFL teacher. However, TESOL is regarded as having a higher standing with employers because there is a slight technical difference. TESOL refers to all learners whose first language is not English, including ethnic minorities living in your home country, whereas TEFL refers only to "foreign" students. Potentially, therefore, a TESOL course encompasses more than a more narrowly defined TEFL course.
The CELTA (Certificate for English Language Teaching to Adults) is a TESOL certificate course. It was actually the first course of this type of teacher-training course. Originally, it was the in-house training course for English teachers at International House (a chain of language schools based in the UK).
3. Will my TEFL International Qualification be recognized anywhere in the world?
Certainly. Every graduate receives a certificate, sealed by the IATQUO (International Association of TESOL Qualifying Organizations). This certifies that the course meets or exceeds the basic British criteria of 100+ hours of classroom time and 6+ hours of Teaching Practice.
4. What about correspondence and distance learning or weekend or 40-hour courses? There are a heaps of them and they are really cheap!
Remember that most employers are looking for certificates that meet the general criteria listed above. And, let’s face it, any course that does not allow you to actually TEACH REAL STUDENTS without supervision, will have limited benefit. It would be like learning to dive by reading the divers manual!
5. Are there regional/national differences in Teacher Training?
Yes. The four-week TESOL certificate courses were first developed in London. They are internationally accepted as initial teacher training courses with most employees, language schools, government schools, and companies (doing in-house training for their employees. The main organisations offering 4-week teacher training are British and the overseeing bodies are also British.
TEFL International is unique as we are based upon the British system, and we even exceed all of their basic criteria. In addition we work with several well respected US universities who can offer up to 12 credits (full-time status and financial aide) for completion of our TESOL course overseas, and an internship. TEFL International can thus give you the best of both worlds — a TESOL certificate that that is recognized for quality in the US and which exceeds the British standards yet.
6. I've heard that these courses are really tough.
No, if you are prepared to do your homework. (and yes, if you spend all your time partying and arrive to class with a giant hangover!) Seriously, we do prefer to take graduates from College or University as they have the experience of studying intensively. But you don’t actually need the degree as pre-knowledge for the course. And there is no reason why a person without a degree is not able to study as intensively. Important is, that you speak English and, that you are willing to stand up in front of a class of adults or children. How to do this, and what to do with them, you will learn from us. We also do a good revision of English grammar, so you don’t need any pre-knowlege of the grammar terminology.
However, before you choose any course you should carefully consider the teaching methods used (to teach you). A large number of (non-British) students found that the British courses are culturally difficult to deal with and have complained of unsympathetic, authority loving, and overly-critical teachers.
We feel this is another reason why TEFL International is an excellent choice. Our curriculum is based on the generally-accepted British model. However, we have adapted this model to be more international and have brought in, for example Peace Corps and US training techniques to balance and compliment the original model.
At TEFL International, we select our Teachers carefully and we are proud to say, that they are all special individuals, friendly, sympathetic and with years of their own teaching experience around the world! We have been able to employ some of the most successful and popular teachers in the field. They have been teaching English for years, and now they will be teaching you, and giving you all the insides, plus the best methods!
7. Can I get undergraduate or graduate credit for taking the TEFL International Certificate course?
Yes! We would be happy to work with your university to arrange a credit If you are a current university student. Please contact us in advance if you want university credit for your participation. We can work with your university to arrange credit, if possible.
Burapha University in Thailand is currently negotiating with TEFL International to offer a full modular MA TESOL degree. This will allow our students to get up to 12 graduate credits for our certificate and a practicum. The addition of the TEFL International Diploma and additional coursework at Burapha University will result in a full MA TESOL.
We are also working on a cooperation with Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon. This may provide an inexpensive and easy way to get university credit and be eligible for financial aide. Contact us if you are interested in this option.
8. I forgot all my grammar! What if don’t make it through the course without grammar?
As a native speaker, you do know your grammar. However, you just don’t know the terminology! That is our job, we will teach you the grammar terminology. We do assume that you know nothing about grammar terminology when you arrive. And, we don’t charge extra for the grammar tuition, it is, and should be part of any English teacher training course.
9. How about jobs. Do you provide Job Placement Assistance?
TEFL International, with locations all over the world, is much more involved in your job search than most other course providers. We are right there in the country you wish to work, and each center is an area expert, with extensive contacts and knowledge within the country. We have been around for a long time, and for the last couple of years, schools have approached us in order to recruit English teachers.
Having said this, it is always an idea to check in advance which countries have most employment opportunities. For years now, most of the opportunities are in Asia and this is increasing. The new EU Countries, Eastern Europe are another huge provider. South America, espeacially Costa Rica and Mexico are exellent. Spain, Italy and France are more difficult at present but we have lots of contacts with schools. English speaking countries, such as Irland, UK, Malta, Australia, Amerika, Canada, New Zealand are not to be underestimated as there is a huge trend to do a “Learn English” holiday for overseas students, as well as a high influx from migrants in UK and Ireland. There are plenty of new language schools cropping up who need teachers.
More often, we have more job offers than teachers! But, we won’t place you just anywhere. We will work closely with you to find a job in the location of your choice.
And, this assistance is life long! When you decide for example, to move from Thailand to Italy, our Rome center will be there to help you.
10. What’s the life as an English teacher like?
You can't imagine teaching kids or adults? Don't worry! You will get plenty of experience during your TESOL course.
You may work at a public school and teach small kids: You teach usually around 15-20 hours a week, so you have plenty of time to prepare each lesson. Standing up in front of a group is a scary thing at first!
How do I discipline rowdy kids? What if I loose the plot? What if they don't understand what I am trying to teach? At the TESOL course you will learn exactly that. This is what we call teaching methods, and 80 percent of the course is geared to teach you just how to survive in the class room and standing up confidently in front of a group and actually teaching English!
The nice thing about teaching kids, is, that it is so rewarding! They are more scared of a new teacher than you are, but already during the first lesson, you will realise that they open up. Kids are interested! They want to learn, and a native English person is something exotic and special for them. Most kids have seen a native English, an American or Australian on TV. And for the kids, this makes you automatically a star. This is especially true if you teach in Asia. Before you know it, they will be all over you, giving you little presents, come to you for their little problems, tell you story's about there families, invite you for their birthdays and smile and greet you whenever you walk past!
Not into kids? Teaching adults is not a huge difference! The only difference are naturally the teaching methods. You won't play too many games, but there are different challenges. Adults often learn a lot slower, but they will remember more. As with kids, they seem to know it all one day, and the next they forgot! Adults take a while longer, but will remember it all.
11. What if I don’t have a degree, can I get a job?
Certainly, there are many countries who will allow you to work without a degree, for example, China, Vietnam, Thailand, plus most language schools around the world. However, you will be competing with teachers who do have a degree and employers will give preference to people with a degree. However, there are many areas where it is difficult to find English teachers. There not always bad places, but just by chance, there are no others interested. We have many good schools on our books, who might require someone immediately but you may have to start on the same day! Working as an ESL teacher without a degree is possible. You should choose your destination carefully and be prepared to be more flexible and spontaneous.
There are countries where governments will not allow teachers without a degree officially, but the same as the above applies, at times, English teachers are hard to find and many people without degrees work “illegally”.
12. How do I know if I am suitable for such a course?
What are the requirements for getting in?
Am I too old or too young?
What are the other students like?
How many people fail and what is the success rate?
These questions are all interrelated. Our courses at TEFL International tend to be taken up by many different types of people. For example, many of the students in the class will usually be in their early twenties. They are mostly recent graduates who want to travel overseas.
Another majority is in their thirties and forties who either have been made redundant or want a career switch, or are moving overseas with their spouse, or are fed up with the system and weather and want to live where the people are friendly and the sun shines.
We are getting more and more people at retirement age who are looking for something to do in their free time, who want to travel, or who “always wanted to do something like this”.
Sometimes, we have students who are not native English speakers, but whose level of English is excellent.
As far as entrance requirements are concerned, a high standard of both spoken and written English is demanded, after all, you are going to be a teacher of English! By this we mean that you have to speak clearly (or learn how to) and correctly. (not necessarily your knowledge of grammatical terminology- this you will learn)
The 4 week TESOL course is intense. You should come prepared to work hard, to do your homework without too many other distractions. (There will still be plenty of free time in the afternoons and on weekends!) Be mentally and emotionally fit. You should also be presentable in appearance.
Finally, you should want to teach and maybe have some experience in any teaching or Public Speaking, so that you know what you are in for. It is important to know, weather you have the confidence to stand up in front of a group ofpeople. Naturally, you can learn this, but we could not tolerate students who will run out of a classroom during teaching practise, because they don’t have the confidence.
If you are a mature person or a senior citizen, do not let this in itself put you off from doing our course. Provided that you are receptive to training and study hard, you will have no problems. You should also be able to accept new ways of teaching (if you have been a teacher in the past) and a different way of living (in a different country) and doing new things. Most of our mature age students have performed extremely well. And all have become excellent teachers, because they have life experience and are generally more respected by students of English who will all think you have been doing this for years (and who do not know that this is something you just learned. ) However, people who are rigid in their ways of thinking and are unwilling to shake off past ways of thinking and behaviour (regardless of age), will have a problem. Doing something such as teaching requires a tolerant, open and friendly attitude as well as good manners and decent dress.
13. I am not a native speaker, can I also do this course?
Sometimes we have people from other English speaking countries, who are interested in teaching more than one language. The “English teaching method” we teach, can also be applied to other languages, so if you speak another language than English as well, this will give you the skills to teach whatever language you want! Naturally, our main focus is on teaching English, so your level of English, especially the pronunciation will have to be excellent and correct.
14. Last chance! Why should I take this TEFL International course. Give me some good.
1. We exceed all International criteria with 120+ hours of classroom time and up to 9 hours of Observed Teaching Practice;
2. We provide a life long job placement assistance program, free of charge.
3. Our courses are all located in fun, interesting locations with many choices in your free time.
4. Our courses include One-to-one meetings with learners of English as well as with full classes in a real teaching environment (such as a public school);
5. We work with many universities to allow you to obtain undergraduate or even graduate credit;
6. We work hard to develop a supportive, nurturing, learning environment;
7. Our courses all have affordable and excellent housing included in one affordable price;
8. In our courses you learn how to create your own teaching material in the form of practical projects. You can take away and use this material in your future teaching career;
9. Our courses include the Experience of learning an unfamiliar language. This way you experience the problems of teaching beginners;
10. Our courses include training for adults as well as younger learners.
And. some more about the life as an English teacher.
In Asian and South European countries, as well as South America a teacher has a high standing in society. You will be treated with respect from children and adults. You are seen as more educated, more clever, an idol (even if you feel you would rather sink into the floorboards on your first day on your new job!) Other teachers will treat you with respect too, because English speaking countries are considered to have a far better Education and University education their country.
Teaching adults: And after a while, you are not considered the teacher, but their special friend. They will still respect you. And they will be proud to call you a "friend". You will be invited to parties, dinners, and family gatherings. They will listen to every one of your words! You are still the teacher and are considered as one of the most intelligent persons on earth!
There is no such thing as a lonely English teacher! After a week of this you will never want to leave!
Naturally, with all the respect, you have to play the part! You should not be seen drunk or take drugs, smoke or swear in front of kids or get "too close" to your good looking student. You have to be seen to adhere to the cultures rules, be dressed formally without showing too much skin. The do's and don't do's of different cultures, you will also learn in your TESOL course!
The teaching part is really the easiest - you will learn all of that. What we cannot teach you is how to adjust to a different lifestyle: This of course depends on the country, but if you are teaching in Asia, you have to adjust to a more basic lifestyle. Starting with the hot water system which may only work at lunchtime, to the simple furniture’s you get, or the missing TV.
But everyone has adjusted to this so far, in fact. most people find it difficult to live back at home, in the stifling, conservative England or in the stressed out US after time away.
Schools often will provide housing. This could be a whole furnished house, a flat, or a room with cooking facilities. You are always advised to check out your school and housing prior to excepting a job. This is why it is a good idea to do your TEFL course in the country where you want to work. You can then easily travel to your prospective employer.
Beware of job offers from your home country! There is often a good reason why some school just takes "anybody" - Each country has plenty of teachers who want to work right there, and there is surely a good reason why these teachers have not taken this job! Although some remote areas claim that there are not enough qualified teachers, you can be sure that there are! There are not many TEFL schools who have our local knowledge and contacts. We are the only Institution educating over 3000 accredited TESOL teachers each year at so many locations. All of our graduates get a jobs offer, and most are in contact with us now and then and give us some feedback on various schools.
We at TEFL International will advise you what to watch out for. We know the schools. Jobs referred to by us, are good jobs, you won't live in a dump and you won't work your bud off for peanuts!
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