If you’re considering doing a TEFL course, you might be a little overwhelmed by the hundreds of TEFL course providers out there. There are literally thousands of TEFL course providers and it can be daunting to choose the perfect course for you. Add to that the fact that not all TEFL courses are created equal and we totally understand why the thought of making a decision can make you change your mind about teaching altogether.
But we don’t want you to fall at the first hurdle, so here are seven things you should consider when choosing a TEFL course that should help you narrow down your options and make the best choice for you.
1. How best do you study?
The first thing you need to think about is the way in which you study. TEFL courses can be done either online or face-to-face, and neither is better than the other. Which one you choose should depend totally on yourself and your learning style. If you need structure in a course, then a face-to-face course might suit you better, but if you are an independent learner who is motivated and dedicated, then an online course would be fine for you.
2. How much time do you have?
Face-to-face TEFL courses are generally 120 hours, which is completed in four weeks. This means you are attending classes 8 hours a day Monday to Friday. Not many of us are able to take the time off work or school to do that. This might mean you need to look at part-time courses which would take place over a number of months. Or it could mean that you need to consider online courses, which can be done in your own time at your convenience.
3. How long is the course?
The gold standard for a TEFL course is 120 hours. We highly recommend not considering a TEFL course which is not at least 120 hours. There are some courses on offer which are 20 hours long – basically a weekend. Would you feel comfortable and prepared to step into a classroom after twenty hours of instruction in a brand new career? We didn’t think so.
You might find a course which is more than 120 hours. This probably means that it includes extra components of the course, such as teaching Young Learners or teaching Business English. More than 120 hours is a bonus but make no mistake, those extra components will look good on your CV.
4. What is included in the course?
This is where we come back to the point that not all TEFL courses are created equal. Be sure to find out what is included in the course before you sign up for it. Your TEFL course is the equivalent of a course at the tertiary level so it needs to be comprehensive. And it shouldn’t be a surprise as to what will be covered on the course. Your TEFL course provider should tell you everything you need to know about the contents of the course BEFORE you hand over your money.
In a nutshell, your course should include:
- a review of English grammar
- how to plan a lesson
- teaching methods
- theories of learning
- learning styles
- classroom management
- how to teach grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation
- reading, writing, listening, speaking skills
- job guidance
Bear in mind that a standard TEFL course is aimed at teaching English as a Foreign Language to adults. It does not necessarily include teaching Young Learners, teaching online, or teaching English for Specific Purposes. It’s great if it does but it shouldn’t be expected.
5. What support do you receive?
Doing a TEFL course is not an impossible challenge, but it’s also not a walk in the park. It’s hard work and takes time and dedication. Especially if you’re not a naturally independent learner, you need to make sure the TEFL course you are choosing offers you the support you need. A good TEFL course will have a team of EFL professionals instructing you or behind-the-scenes waiting to answer any questions you may have throughout the course.
6. Is the course accredited?
Because there is no one accrediting body for TEFL courses all over the world, accreditation IS important. In other words, a TEFL course can come in any shape and size and still be labelled a TEFL course. Accreditation is what you need to look at to make sure a TEFL course is up to standard.
There are a number of different accrediting bodies around the world and so it would be impossible to be familiar with them all. Luckily, you don’t have to be. On the website of the TEFL course provider, you will find information about the organisations which accredit their course. There should be clickable links to help you find out information about these bodies. Have a look at their websites and make sure they are genuine accrediting bodies and not just subscription services. A good rule of thumb is if they are related to a government or education body, then you can feel comfortable that they are legit.
For example, The TEFL Academy courses are DEAC-approved as meeting the criteria for Approved Quality Curriculum statutes (the DEAC is a US Department of Education-recognised awarding body), as well as being regulated by the UK government department Ofqual and awarded by the UK government-recognised awarding body Qualifi. In order to figure out what that actually all means, hop on over to their websites and see what they’re all about.
Read more: TEFL Accreditation Explained
7. What do other students say?
Finally, we know we can trust the people of the Internet to speak the truth. Find reviews of your courses and you are sure to find any bad reviews of the course or any red flags you might not have picked up on in your research. Besides the reviews on the TEFL course provider’s website, have a look for independent reviews online on forums or Facebook pages. The numbers won’t lie: if a TEFL course has thousands of satisfied customers, you can be comfortable in the knowledge that it is a good course. But if there are more than a few dissatisfied customers, rather look elsewhere.
Making the decision to do a TEFL course is an investment of your time and your money. It is an important decision. You won’t be doing yourself any favours if you choose the cheapest course or the quickest course.
You are investing in your new career. And above all you are investing in yourself. Don’t sell yourself short.
A good TEFL qualification will get you a job which will earn you the cost of your TEFL course back quickly. A good TEFL qualification will prepare you adequately to teach English as a Foreign Language in any situation you might find yourself in. And a good TEFL qualification will support you throughout your journey as a TEFL teacher. The key is, it must be a good TEFL qualification. So do your due diligence and set yourself up for success.