I got an email today with some excellent questions about online versus in-classroom TEFL Training and I will address those questions here.
The person wrote:
I have heard a lot of talk on these TEFL forums and I understand that a 120 hour course is necessary and this is what I will do.
Usually 100 hour courses are okay too.
However, I have heard from many people that if an online program doesn’t have at least 6 course hours of supervised teaching practice with real ESL/EFL students than I shouldn’t bother.
Generally speaking a course with supervised teaching practice is FAR better for improving your teaching skills. Such courses, however, are also quite expensive. Usually starting about $1300 and going up to $2000 and more. And you’ll need to take four weeks off of work to do it and support yourself somehow at the same time.
I am semi-retired teacher trainer and YES, absolutely – if you can take a full in-classroom course with a minimum (try to get more!) of six hours of observed teaching practice, do it!
If you don’t have the time or money for such course (many people don’t – I didn’t when I started out in 1992), then an online course is fine.
I’m assuming your course doesn’t because its online. [referencing TEFL Boot Camp]
You are correct, we don’t offer observed teaching practice.
My question is, will an online course hurt me with my chances of employment?
Of course not! Most people look for TEFL jobs with no training at all. How would showing the initiative to at least get some training hurt your chances? Many places want a TEFL cert and don’t care if it is in-classroom or online. I place people in China and the schools there want a TEFL Certificate (see my website and the jobs list at: TEFL Jobs China) – The schools we work with don’t care online/in-classroom or not and don’t specify or require observed teaching practice as a part of the training. They are just happy that you got some training to learn to do a better job. This is true many places around the world.
Summary: Yes – an in-classroom course is a superior option. But the differences in price and time commitments and the ability to take the course when you can is why online courses are successful and so many people take them.
Usually people on internet forums want you to do what they have done. So the people telling you to do an in-classroom course – probably took one and want to persuade you to do what they have done. And – it is a GOOD idea! Just expensive and time consuming.
If you know you are seeking a career and want to work abroad for many years – then definitely do the Full Monty. If you want to just teach abroad for a couple years or aren’t sure how long you want to do it – or even if you would like it – then do an online course to test the waters. Nothing says you can’t go back and take a full course later.
If fact, I am working on an arrangement where if you take the TEFL Boot Camp course and later sign up for a full course at one of two schools in Thailand – we refund your TEFL Boot Camp course fees. That is a good deal!
TED’s Tips™ #1: Some training is always better than no training at all. Get what you can afford to help you do a better job.
TED’s Tips™ #2: Take a full four-six week in-classroom course if you can. You will leave the course a better teacher than you will with any other course.
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