Choosing a TEFL or TESOL Course

How do you choose a Certificate course? There are hundreds of schools, several accredited courses and various levels and ways to study. However, they will all cost you money and take a couple of months (or longer) of study to complete.

Those teachers who want to grow, personally and professionally, are turning to TEFL Certificate courses. But not every course will be right for you – and you can only find a suitable course by asking the right questions. Here are some essential questions to ensure you choose the best school for you:

What are the qualifications of your trainers?

A Diploma or Master’s degree (MATESOL) for all or most trainers is a good sign. If those who will be your role models only have a TEFL Cert. themselves, look deeper into the curriculum offered and ask about their years of experience. While a Master’s is not a guarantee of good training, it does suggest deeper understanding about the theory behind the methods and a clear commitment to the field.

Have any complaints ever been filed against your school?

If you are studying in the USA, any complaints must, by State licensing agencies, be reported – justified or not. The nature of the complaint will tell you what the programme may not publicly advertise.

What about the duration of your programme and practicum?

Ask about both classroom time and practicum hours. Intensive programmes can run 120 to 150 hours. The more practicum hours, closely supervised, the better. It is very difficult for a teacher to learn from his or her mistakes if given only three or four opportunities to teach. The ideal programme will allow you chances to work with beginning, intermediate, and advanced speakers of English. Note: part-time programmes lack the immediacy of feedback seen in intensive, full-time programmes.

What is your hire/placement track record?

Proprietary programmes are required to keep close records on how many graduates get jobs. The vast majority, over 80%, should be getting jobs within two months of hire, given the intense market for EFL/ESL teachers.

Tell me about your job network

At minimum, a school should have an extensive list of employers throughout the world and access to Internet postings. Some programmes also offer job counselling, CV advice, and a means of providing feedback from graduates who are now teaching overseas.

In the USA, are you licensed by any state agency?

If you are studying in the USA, this is an important point: licensure for proprietary schools does not mean that you will qualify for a public school job, but rather that the school meets stringent state standards. For example, in California, these include standards for qualifications of trainers and administrators, strict record keeping, and a refund procedure.

How are trainees tested?

If you do poorly at written tests, you won’t perform well in a TEFL programme that requires passing a test for graduation. All programmes should have highly specific criteria for evaluating you, particularly in the area of practicum teaching. These should be in written form, to help prevent any bias on the part of an observer. And if you do find there is a chance of failing, you’ll want to know it early on, while there is still a chance to get a refund or improve your performance.

What kind of coursework and topics do you have?

A comprehensive programme will at least introduce you to the basics of classroom management, lesson planning, student evaluation, and techniques for teaching grammar, reading, writing, listening, speaking, and pronunciation.

What is your trainee/trainer ratio?

The programme should allow for easy exchanges in class work and for closer counselling as needed. Classes of more than 15 trainees may make it more difficult to get the best from your teacher. Your practical classes should be observed by more than one trainer, as opinions on your strengths and weaknesses will vary.

How do you get your students for the practicals?

The ideal is students who really do not know the material you will be teaching, so that their responses will be genuine. Make sure you will have a guaranteed number of students for your practical sessions in order to do pair and group work.

How are refunds handled?

Many unanticipated events may force a drop-out – family crisis, illness, or a mismatch of trainee and programme goals. The best programmes allow you to leave within the first few days with few, if any, financial penalty. Others will pro-rata the amount coming back to you depending on the time spent in the programme.

What will I receive on completion?

Trainee teachers disperse quickly after a course ends. An efficient programme will make sure that on graduation day, they receive a certificate, a letter of recommendation, and, perhaps, a transcript of courses taken and the results.

How much will it all cost?

Of course you will want to know about course tuition, but don’t forget to add in extras such as books and day trips, and accommodation.

Filed in: TEFL Courses