Evaluating the TEFL Training Course and the School
While there is no set international standard for what constitutes a TEFL Certification course, most countries will have requirements that schools must meet before handing out certificates.
Sometimes this review is only cursory, but sometimes it may also be detailed and require certain content for the course and even the qualifications of the teachers.
Know the answers to these questions about a school you are considering and its TEFL Certification course:
1. Is the school licensed by the Ministry of Education, or local education office or just by a business licensing agency of the local government?
This should tell you something about the rigor of the evaluation of the school by their government.
Ask Specifically: Who issued the license to your school?
2. How many hours of in-class instruction are there?
The generally accepted “International Standard” is 100+.
3. Is there a grammar component to the course? What does it entail?
Not just “grammar”, but how to teach it, how to correct it and how to explain it. Most teachers in training also need an extensive review of grammar.
While most native speakers have an intuitive sense of what is correct versus incorrect, we often have no idea why, or even more importantly, how to simply explain why something is correct or not.
4. Is there a teaching methodology component to the course?
5. How many hours of observed teaching practice (OTP) are there?
The generally accepted “International Standard” is a minimum of six.
6. Who observes me during my OTP?
Are they experienced teachers? Some schools will only have other student teachers observe you. You want an experienced teacher, preferably with five or more years of experience observing you.
7. Will I be teaching “real” students during my OTP?
Some schools will have you only teaching your student-teacher peers.
8. Will I be taught the common problems of the local students?
The perfect reason for taking your course in the country in which you intend to teach. A course should ALSO teach you common problems around the world – not just for that one country.
9. Will I teach the same students every time I do OTP?
There are good and bad points to this. Some variety will expose you to wider range of student problems, while teaching the same students several times lets you experience their progress and how it needs to be planned and organized.
10. Will I be teaching adults and children?
It is better to get some experience teaching both, but this is not always on offer.
11. Will I teach the type of students (kids or adults) I am most interested in teaching or can that be arranged?
This is a follow-up to the previous question.
12. Are all needed books and materials included in the course price?
This can be a substantial additional cost, though with many schools you will need only to provide your own board markers and a few incidentals. Some schools will recommend books and materials that you probably really should have, but not require you to purchase them.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Don’t sign up for or pay for a course for which you do not know the answers to these questions. They are simple and easy to answer and if a school is not able to answer them, that should be a big red flag.
TED’s Tips™ #2: Most schools are more than willing to let you sit in for a day. Ask. Know that not every day of a TEFL course is exciting, some are slogging through lesson plans and other time consuming and difficult work.
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