You’ve decided that teaching English is for you and the next step is to get your TEFL or TESOL certificate. But you’re not sure which TEFL certification program is the best. How do you choose your TESOL certificate? How long will it take? What will it cost? Today I’m going to give you a guide to choosing the best TEFL/TESOL certificate course!
There are two ways to go about getting certified to teach English. You can attend a class in person or you can complete your certification online. My wife and I are both certified English teachers but we each got our certification in different ways.
I got my certification in person. My wife did her certification online. Both ways have their pros and cons. But both in-person and online give you what you need to start using your teaching certificate to enhance your resume and apply for more teaching jobs.
Today I want to share with you the basics to keep in mind when you’re deciding what TESOL or TEFL certificate course to choose. Whether you choose to take your course online or in-person, you’ll be able to use these guidelines to help you choose the best course.
But first I want to answer some basic questions you may have if you’re just starting to look into getting your teaching certificate.
What is the difference between TESOL and TEFL certification?
So TEFL stands for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. TEFL programs are intended for teachers who plan to go abroad to teach students in a country where the primary language is not English.
Often these students will be studying English as an academic subject, similar to the way you’d study science or history. The focus of these lessons will be more on grammar and the technicalities of the English language. These students are often preparing to take standardized tests like TOEFL or IELTS, which are needed for students enrolling in a university in an English speaking country.
TESOL stands for Teaching English to Students of Other Languages. Training in TESOL methodology is generally recommended for teachers who plan to work with learners who are non-native English speakers living in an English speaking country.
These students will be learning the more practical use of the English language. They will need to learn how to use the language in daily life.
The tricky thing about choosing a teaching certificate program is that these acronyms tend to be used as if they mean the same thing. Why?
TEFL focuses more on academic English while TESOL focuses more on the practical usage of English. In many teaching programs students tend to want a blend of both of these sides of English.
For these reasons, some programs call themselves TEFL/TESOL because they aim to prepare teachers to work with students in a wide variety of situations. In this article, I’ll use both terms interchangeably.
How much does TEFL certification cost?
There are many factors that can affect the cost of a teaching training program. For example, the following factors come into play when you’re determining the cost:
- Is the class in-person or will it be online?
- How many hours is the course?
- Who is offering the course?
- Is a teaching practicum included in the program?
The cheapest option is to take the training course online. The price can vary quite a bit from cheap Groupon deals of $15 to more credible courses ranging from $200-$500.
Generally, with online programs, they will be a blended TEFL/TESOL program with the option to add specialty programs like Teaching Young Learners or Business English. Most online programs do not include a teaching practicum, but the ones that do may charge extra for this. While not required it does add a lot of value to your certification.
Now, in-person programs are usually in the price range of $1,000-$2,000 and usually take from 5 days to 6 weeks to complete. The in-person program will usually include a teaching practicum, which will allow you to practice the things you’ve learned under the guidance of a qualified instructor. This is valuable for receiving feedback on your teaching and boosting your confidence to get started.
What about those cheap Groupon deals?
I often get questions about these training programs. Usually, my general answer is that you get what you pay for. However, a few months ago I went ahead and bought one of these cheap TESOL programs. I wanted to be able to answer this question fairly and objectively.
I bought two different programs from two different companies. One was much better than the other but both programs had some issues that would raise red flags:
- Both were not complete programs. In both programs, the introduction listed several books that would need to be purchased and read to complete your understanding. One of the programs listed 30 books! These were not just additional readings.
- There were no assignments throughout the lessons. While this could be looked at as a bonus, in the real world it puts the student and the teacher at a disadvantage. By only including quizzes which you can take as many times as needed, there’s no way to show that you truly understand the concepts.
- The programs were pretty boring and not comprehensive. There were no chances for interaction in the classes. A lot of practical information was missing.
- There was no way to prove that I had learned the concepts.
There are more things I could list but overall, looking at it after teaching for years, I couldn’t imagine taking one of these courses and feeling prepared to teach much less recommend it to someone else. If you’re curious about what’s involved in teaching and want to get a general idea of what’s involved, you could use these programs to do that at best.
But to be prepared to teach and actually be well-qualified you need more than what these cheap courses can give.
Bottom line: Skip the cheap course and invest in a professional course that will get you prepared for real-world teaching and give you the training to understand how to teach English.
How to choose a reputable TESOL course?
There a few areas you want to look at when considering a TESOL program, especially if you’re choosing an online TESOL/TEFL program:
- Content of the course
- Length of the course
- Teachers or Tutors
- Resources available for students
- Grammar and Phonology of English should account for up to 40% (or 40 hours equivalent or more) of the course input.
- Approaches to language learning, language teaching techniques, and classroom management should account for up to another 40% (or 40 hours equivalent or more).
- Practical projects and/or practical experience in an English Language Teaching classroom should account for up to another 20% (or 20 hours equivalent or more).
In addition, worksheets and tests should be provided for each of the major topics covered in the material. These would be submitted to the course tutors for assessment and feedback. Practical projects, such as lesson plans, a learner profile, and observation of class teaching on video can be carried out during or immediately after completion of the course.
So what exactly is accreditation? Accreditation, or validation, is a process where a TESOL training course is examined by an external organization, such as ACCET. By using highly qualified and experienced professionals they can make sure that it conforms to certain internationally acceptable standards.
Many online TEFL certification programs will say that they’re accredited but you want to make sure that they’re not just showing names of associations. Businesses can become part of associations just by paying a yearly fee but accreditations don’t work that way.
These accreditations help make sure that you’re receiving a quality education and that your certificate will be internationally accepted.
The material studied online should amount to 120 hours of work at a minimum. If you studied 6 hours a day, this should take you a minimum of four intensive weeks of 30 hours’ work to complete, for example. However, this schedule probably isn’t realistic for most people. That’s why many of these programs can be done at your own pace as long as you complete the program within a year’s time.
Practical classroom experience should be included. This can be made up of writing reports of live lessons that you’re able to observe, evaluations of class textbooks or other materials, or working with real learners either as a teaching assistant or temporary teacher.
The tutors of the course should have a university education, several years of experience teaching English, and experience in teacher training. There should be a coordinating tutor. They should be available at set times, which should be told to you as a student, and they should provide feedback on the assignments and worksheets that you submit. Ideally, one tutor should be assigned to each student.
Premises and resources:
The TESOL program should have an email and a way that makes it possible to store and send your work and for your grades to be received.
Five factors in a good TESOL course:
So, when looking into a TEFL/TESOL course keep these five things in mind to choose the best course:
- A minimum of 100 hours, but preferably 120 hours. (Most accredited courses have between 120 and 150 hours scheduled, including study time.)
- A good balance between information and theory – English grammar and phonology, learning styles and teaching techniques – and practical work.
- A minimum of 6 hours of practicum which includes observation of real learners and teachers, evaluations of textbooks or other materials, or working with classes of real learners that are observed and commented on by a tutor.
- Tutors are qualified and experienced, and there is a good standard of management.
- Premises and resources are of an acceptable standard and sufficient.
What benefits are there for teachers?
So how do you benefit from getting certified as a TESOL teacher? Consider the following benefits:
- You’ll be trained to internationally acceptable standards
- You’ll be capable of preparing and conducting English classes
- You’ll have a greater chance of getting a job than someone whose qualification is not externally accredited or who doesn’t have certification
- You give yourself the opportunity to receive higher pay
- You’ll be in a position to develop more professionally
I often get asked if I can recommend any companies that offer reputable TEFL certification programs. Happily, I can say YES!
I’ve recently partnered with one of the leading TESOL/TEFL providers to give you access to certification programs that you can trust! This company offers a combination of TESOL and TEFL certification. This prepares you to teach both students learning English academically and those who want to learn more practical English.
Bridge Online TEFL/TESOL courses offer premium, internationally-recognized certification at affordable prices. All fully accredited courses include comprehensive content, personal tutors, videos, and other interactive features. BridgeTEFL students graduate with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to effectively teach English and advance their professional careers.
You’ll be able to check off all the requirements we listed in this article with Bridge! I hope this collaboration will enable you to get started faster and be able to focus on your journey teaching English!
If you got value out of this blog post, why not subscribe to this blog by clicking here.
You can also check out my FREE Get Started Teaching English Online Masterclass by clicking here.
Also, be sure to get your FREE Report Top Online English Teaching Companies where I share the top companies that nobody is talking about but that will pay you the most money to teach English online right now!
What do you think? Are you ready to get started with a TESOL course? Comment below!