The Who, What, Where, When and Why of TEFL Courses

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) refers to teaching English to students whose first language is not English. TEFL usually occurs in the student’s own country, either within the state school system, or privately, e.g., in an after-hours language school or with a tutor. TEFL teachers may be native or non-native speakers of English.”

Thank you Wikipedia for that nice clear summary. But now lets try to gain a bit more clarity as you, a potential TEFL teacher, think about venturing out into work world.

Teaching English can look completely relaxed, student and teacher sitting in a coffee house, learning common phrases and pointers the student needs to communicate in English; or, on the opposite extreme, it might be a formal as classroom delivery in a state sponsored educational environment with students studying for recognized qualifications. Recruitment of teachers by various schools, private students will therefore look very different depending on the job description.Even when focusing just on teaching in a classroom, employment requirements vary greatly across the world, and even within the same city. You might find that two employers have totally different ideas of what constitutes a suitably qualified teacher. Some kind of qualification and experience are always useful to up the chances of being hired, but there are plenty of seasoned teachers out there who made a career out of teaching with just a bit of charm and self study. Others dedicate a significant chunk of time to studying English and teaching methodology. When a private student chooses a one-on-one tutor, personality usually has more impact than anything included on a CV, so depending on your goals and your make-up, you may choose one of many different routes on your journey towards becoming a TEFL teacher.

Q. I Want To Do a TEFL Course and become officially certified. Where do I start?

A.The most popular way to start a career in teaching English as a foreign language is to do a four week presentational TEFL course. There are hundreds of these courses around the world and they all share the same goal of equipping you to be an English teacher.

These courses are intense. In just four weeks you’ll be taught everything from English semantics to how to effectively deliver the classes that you’ve prepared. Most courses have a both classroom and one-on-one learning opportunities. These TEFL courses tend to attract a mix of nationalities with people from different backgrounds, making it a great first learning environment as you yourself venture out into a a world where your students and environment will probably be very different from what you are used to back home.

Q. Is it best to learn to be a TEFL teacher on my home turf or in a new country?

A. For some, the option to study where you will be familiar with the culture, surroundings, and language is the best choice. If your not sure what country you’d like to teach in, this will afford you the time to learn about all the options and then venture out into the big wide world with your certification in hand. However, its worth noting that if you take a course in the country you want to work in, you’ll have several advantages.

When you take a course in the country of your choice, ou’ll get a true taste for the culture and environment that your about to become a teacher in. There is nothing like first hand experience, and if you jump in without immersing yourself before, you might feel a bit like fish out of water. TEFL courses given on location usually aim to give the soon to be teacher a look into the world around them, both with free time and structured outings.

It is a humbling exercise to be on the receiving end of language classes, and in a country where no one speaks your native language. The students you’ll soon be working with are not strangers to the intense separation caused by a language barrier, and getting a taste of their situation will make you a more empathetic, and better teacher.

Another benefit is that the TEFL course itself can shed light onto the true teaching mentality of the country you’ve chosen, and for some, this insight means they now know they’d rather work elsewhere. Its always better to realize this early on, instead of signing on for a job only to find a few weeks later that you are really not connecting with the vibe of the country. .

Q. Should I consider a distance or online TEFL course?

A. It’s worth considering all options out there, and online TEFL courses are definitely taking over a large percentage of the market. Some are better then others, and although the same academic, linguistic, and teaching methodology can be learned online or in a physical classroom, distance learning requires discipline and self motivation, and can be a bit alienating. For those who already have some background in teaching but need to refine a few skills and add knowledge become the best TEFL teacher possible, learning online might be the perfect option. And, online schools tend to be cheaper. So as with most TEFL related things, you need to look at your goals and needs, and make your choice from there.

Q. What do I need to know about all these letter combinations?

A. Maybe you’ve noticed the English teaching industry is awash with acronyms and initials. Its confusing, to say the least. The letter E usually plays heavily in the acronyms. Its stands for English. With that as our compass, lets brake down some of this down.

The following are terms related to the teaching of English and are typically used in non-English speaking places where English is a foreign language:

ESL = English as a Second Language

EFL = English as a Foreign Language

TEFL = Teaching English as a Foreign Language

The following terms are typically used in English speaking places where there are people who are learning English as a Second language:

ESOL = English for Speakers of Other Languages

ELT = English Language Teaching

TESL = Teaching English as a Second Language

TESOL = Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

The following terms relate to certifications:

CELTA = Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults. This is the Cambridge Exam Board “brand name” for a TEFL course that trains adults to teach adults English.

CertTESOL = Certificate of Teaching English To Speakers Of Other Languages. This is the entry certificate awarded by Trinity College, London for those starting out as TEFL teachers

TOFU = Delicious vegetarian meat alternative made from soya. Tofu courses are usually served after starters.

Q. Where Can I Get More Info?

A. You’re at the right place. The World TEFL Project is here to promote English teaching and TEFL training around the world. Click around our website, or check out some of these insigful vignettes from our readers.”

From Denver to South Korea

A Denver native, Lindsey opted to take an 80 hour online TEFL programme, topped off with a final 20 hour practical course to kick off her English teaching career which would lead her off on her Asian adventure.

Take A Break From The Rat Race

Thinking of taking a career break or a sabatical? Taking time off or filling a gap year by teaching English abroad is a popular choice and a short but intensive course is usually enough to get anyone from any career background on their way.