Once you’ve decided to do a TEFL course, the next big question is which kind of course? All the different acronyms are confusing enough (CELTA, TEFL, TESOL…), let alone other considerations such as choosing between an online course, intensive course, etc. Read through our top tips to help you decide how to choose your ideal TEFL course, and what red flags to look out for.
Check Out the Course Provider
Whichever type of course you decide to do, it’s important to check out the course provider is legit. It would be a real nightmare to spend time and money studying your qualification to find out that employers aren’t impressed. Look how long the company has been around for – are employers likely to have heard of it? If your course is provided by someone that potential employers haven’t heard of, your qualification won’t look very attractive, especially compared to candidates with legitimate certificates.
Once you’ve checked this the course provider has been around for a while and that their course is accredited, find out what their feedback is like. Don’t just read through comments on their website – while valuable, they could also be doctored to show the company in the best light. Do a general search of the company name on Google, Facebook or Twitter and find out what people really think about them. If there are one or two bad comments, take them with a pinch of salt – someone else’s bad experience doesn’t mean they aren’t the right provider for you. What you’re looking for is a general feeling that people are pleased with what they paid for.
Are you also considering a CELTA? You may find this helpful: CELTA: An Introduction, Why To Do It and When
The Magic Number
One of the main reasons why people choose online TEFL qualifications over intensive CELTA courses is the price – better qualifications cost way more, which often makes it difficult for newbie teachers to gain the best qualification straight away. Even within one type of course, prices can vary greatly. You want to get the best deal possible, but with something serious like a qualification, scraping the bottom of the barrel might not be the best idea. Some TEFL courses with super low prices are, frankly, too good to be true – good things cost money, and paying next to nothing for a TEFL course is not a smart idea if you actually want to get a teaching job in the future.
The important thing is to shop around – decide what kind of course you want to do, how many hours of study you want, and see what the general market price is for that type of course. If you’re finding one provider with a price significantly lower than other good providers, that’s a red flag to steer clear – it may be a cowboy operation. Going with a well-known provider may be a little more expensive, but it guarantees a better quality course. Many major providers frequently offer discounts and reductions on their courses anyway, so you can find a good deal without sacrificing quality.
Choose a Course Geared Towards What You’ll Use it For
Needless to say that the higher qualified you are, the better job you’ll be able to get. However, if you don’t plan to go into teaching as a full-time career, i.e. you just want to do a few weeks of volunteering abroad or have a working holiday, then you don’t need to fork out big bucks for absolutely the best course. , Alternatively, you may already have a standard teaching qualification and want to learn about TEFL.
If you’re just looking for a short introduction, maybe to get a taster before deciding if TEFL is really for you, then a 40-hour online course would be a good place to start. However, if you’re looking to make more of a career of teaching (even if it’s just for a gap year or two) then you don’t want to consider anything below 120 hours. This really is a minimum requirement for those who are hoping to have a good foundation in teaching. Better still, choose a blended course which has at least 120 hours of online study, plus an intensive face-to-face weekend training course (usually 20 hours over two days) – this sort of face-to-face training is essential if you’re hoping to work in really good schools.
Again, this depends on what kind of teaching you want to do, and where. For example, many schools in Asia don’t require teachers to have any sort of teaching qualification at all, and so having a simple online course will be enough to get you started. However, if you want to teach in Europe or get jobs teaching English at British summer schools, you’ll need to be better qualified.
Also, remember to choose a course based on what is included. Some courses have specialist modules in business English, teaching kids, working with large classes, grammar, etc. If the specialist modules focus on things you’re not interested in teaching, it’s may not be the best choice for you. Some longer courses (like 140-hour blended courses) let you pick which specialist modules you’d like your course to include.
How to Find a Good TEFL Course Provider
There are countless TEFL course providers, and it isn’t always easy to choose which one is best for you. If you need extra help in finding the best course, check out CactusTEFL to browse different types of courses, as well as searching by course location and course start dates. Cactus is the first port of call for anyone considering taking a TEFL of any kind. Personally, I also recommend i-to-i which offers a variety of TEFL courses and paid internships in top locations and lets you pick your own specialist modules.
About the Author
Celia Jenkins in a veteran EFL teacher abroad and freelance writer. She is currently based in Japan.