Everyone agrees that an in-classroom TEFL Training course is the best training to get if you can afford it.
People spend a lot of time asking about validity of courses, content and more, but the one thing they never ask about, might just be the most important factor in their success: The Teacher Trainer.
It is important to know some information about your primary instructor.
Some schools will have only one primary teacher for your specific course and the rest of the teachers will help with the observed teaching practice. In other schools you may get different teachers to cover different areas of the course.
Both are fine, but it is still important to know a few things about your primary instructor.
You may ask why it is so important.
More than a few years back, one of my teacher-trainee students had just finished our TEFL certification course when he was hired by a competing school to do teacher training. He had no teacher training experience and he had never really taught any classes on his own…would you want such a teacher-trainer for your first course? Could or world this person inspire you in your new career? Ummm . . . probably not.
Before you sign up for an in-classroom course, ask your teacher trainer these questions via email or telephone:
1) What are your qualifications (education, certification, etc)?
In a perfect world it would be great if your instructor has a relevant degree and really understands how teaching and learning works.
TEFL Cert and CELTA are courses designed to be given to high school graduates. It would be better to look out for a teacher-trainer with something like a MATESOL or at least an M.Ed with some sort of TEFL, PGCE or DELTA certification.
2) What is your experience?
You want to look for a teacher-trainer that can provide you with insight in every area of teaching. This person will understand the TEFL-world and all the problems teachers are facing.
Someone with a minimum of six to eight years teaching experience (to both adults and children) and experience in at least two countries, in different settings, will be able to give you that insight. The number of years and the number of countries is a question you should definitely ask.
3) Have you taught different students in different settings? What about tutoring?
If your teacher-trainer has taught in more or less the same setting and circumstances you expect to teach in, they will be able to provide you with spot-on information.
If they don’t tell you about this, ask them!
4) Do you enjoy teaching? Why? Why not?
Even though it’s a hard thought to grasp, there are some teacher-trainers out there who DON’T enjoy teaching. For them teaching is merely an excuse to travel, see the world and live overseas. They may actually hate teaching.
If you have one of these people as your teacher-trainer, their attitude will reflect in your classroom and you may not enjoy it at all. It is all a choice – if you learn to enjoy your work, it will be a positive change in your life.
5) What’s great for you about teaching?
Listen to their voice, heart and attitude to know if they really like teaching or not.
TED’s Tips™ #1: I strongly advise you to study under a teacher-trainer with at least six to eight year’s experience, in at least two countries, in at least two or three different settings (public school, university, language school, tutoring) and with children and adults. Your teacher-trainer should have some kind of qualification – ideally a master’s degree, but something in Education or DELTA will do as well.
Teacher-trainers with these credentials are rare, look for them. If you want to be the best you should get the best! You are spending a LOT of money on an in-classroom course. Be sure you get what you pay for.
TED’s Tips™ #2: Don’t fall into the trap of marketing schemes, beautiful websites, cloying testimonials, impressive looking and sounding curriculum. Rather go for the best teacher-trainer that you can find, this person will be the one who will make you a good teacher. Will inspire you. Or will turn you off to teaching. Up to you.