Teaching English as a second language appeals to many people because it gives them the opportunity to travel to other countries while earning money. It is also an opportunity to find employment in the United States because there are so many people now working in the United States who speak a foreign language and need education in English as a second language. Companies abroad and here at home are seeking people with TEFL Certificates (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) to gap the communication bridge between their employees as well as those they do business with on a daily basis.
TEFL Certificate programs are more common and are offered by universities, independent certificate programs (both in the United States and abroad) and through distance learning programs. However, the requirements and costs of each program are varied, as is the level of education you will receive from the program. Unfortunately, there is no regulation of TEFL programs so you must research the program to determine its quality as well as how it is viewed, and accepted, by potential employers.
The questions you should ask when researching a TEFL Certificate program are:
1. What is the number of total hours of classroom instruction? Generally, 100 hours is the minimum a program should offer.
2. What certifications and/or degrees do the teachers hold? Qualified teachers should have a degree, classroom teaching experience and experience in education.
3. How many hours of observed teaching practice will be required? TEFL Certificate programs should include a minimum of six hours of teaching practice. This practice should be observed by teachers and not student teachers in order to provide the best feedback.
4. Will your observed teaching be to real students or your fellow peers in the program? It can be argued that using peers gives you better feedback; however, teaching real students gives you a better opportunity to work through real issues with the assistance of a qualified teacher. Nothing is better than actual experience with students.
5. What components or classes are included in the curriculum? A good TEFL program will include classes in grammar, teaching methodology, cross-cultural communication, linguistics and pronunciation. A good TEFL program should teach more than just grammar skills, it should train the student in ways to “teach” English as a foreign language.
6. What are the costs, fees and materials required for the program? Full time universities will tend to have more intense programs that are longer and more costly; however, certificates issued by universities may be favored more by certain employers. Inquire about the cost and weigh that against the reputation of the institution.
English International provides a thorough analysis of several TEFL training programs weighing the pros and cons of each program. They also offer suggestions of programs that meet certain criteria for specific jobs.