As often happens, questions from you – the readers – are better than any ideas I have for blog topics, so here is another thoughtful question:
I have my BA and have been looking into TESOL certifications. I’m trying to find the most appropriate track to teach English (most likely overseas or possibly in my local community classes, but I am not interested in public schools in my country.)
I am not sure I have ever said a degree is not necessary though I would say or agree that a degree is not always required. However, simply having a degree does not qualify you to teach English as a foreign language. In your questions, you have asked about a couple different career tracks. Teaching EFL abroad is a bit different that teaching ESL or even just straight English in a country where English is the first language.
He also asked:
From your experience would you say that it would benefit me to get a post-bachelors TESOL certification or some other type of similar certification, or even a master’s degree? There are so many different types of courses I’m confused as to what certification would be the most advantageous to look into since I currently have a BA.
First: If you want to teach in the USA/UK/Australia/etc in a community college setting or just community-type classes, you probably should consider getting an MATESOL. Otherwise you will have difficulty competing for and landing such jobs as almost everyone applying will likely already have experience abroad and an MATESOL or similar qualification.
For teaching abroad, your options depend a lot more on what you intend to do, where you intend to do it and for how long you intend to do it.
If you are not sure about TEFL as a career path and are thinking of just heading out for a year or two to see if you like it – then one of the online programs will be just fine. No need to spend a huge amount of money. They will give you some good simple basics that will significantly improve your teaching skills. Usually many things you would never have thought of if you had no training.
Get out in the world, get your feet wet, see if you like the occupation and if you do and if you decide to stay abroad for many years then you should take a good in-classroom TEFL certification course. Name brand does not matter much (in my opinion). CELTA is often seen as the gold standard, but you will pay a lot of extra money for that course, sometimes twice as much. Most generic TEFL courses are just fine. Most employers don’t care about one brand or another (unless they are selling it!).
IF you intend to stay abroad for a long time and wish to approach the field as a professional, get the best jobs, teach at universities and colleges, save some real money and get lots of paid time off – then RUN, don’t walk – to get an MATESOL (or an M.Ed. in TEFL is okay too – or an M.Ed. with a PGCE in TEFL or anything roughly similar).
Teaching at the college/university level is quite a different occupation from teaching at language schools. Language schools tend to offer only limited time off and the career path leads to supervisory or DOS type roles.
University positions can offer a much lighter work load, a more prestigious position that will allow you time to pursue other interests – professional or otherwise – and offers you a longer occupational lifespan. I’ve spent many of the last 16 years with anywhere from ten to twenty weeks PAID vacation per year and much of that time was with four-day work weeks. It can be quite a decent career if done right. It allowed me to explore websites, pursue further professional training and – at times – just take a well deserved rest.
TED’s Tips™ #1: Get some training no matter what you intend to do in TEFL. If you goal is short-term then an online course is fine. If it is longer term, get a good four-week in-classroom course. If you wish to teach at the college/university level, a graduate degree is a must. This is true for the great majority of countries though not true for China, but you may wish to be able to work in a variety of countries in a similar capacity.