Evaluating a TEFL Training Course: Part 2


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?

Absolutely critical.

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.

What’s up in China? Learn what kind of jobs are on offer if you would like to Teach English in China – EFL’s final frontier.

TEFL Training Courses: How to Evaluate Them

Separating TEFL Training Hype from BS from the Real Deal: Part 1


This post will begin a short series discussing how to evaluate TEFL training courses. This topic is important as it is quite difficult to sort through all the hype on the Internet and to get down to basics as to what is really needed and what might be best for you personally.

Just a bit of advice here . . .

If you cruise the Internet a bit, you’ll know it’s a real jungle out there, but sorting out the best school for you can be easier than you might think. We will discuss the important questions and how to get the answers you need.

The best answers in this decision are always going to be the best answers for you, there is no one-size-fits-all here!

Most important:

Don’t rely solely on what you read on the Internet forums!

More than just a few schools employ people who cruise the Internet forums pushing their school and nay-saying other schools that might really be just as good or even better in terms of meeting your wants and needs.

You can expect CELTA people to say anything else is a waste of money, and TEFL Cert people to say CELTA smacks of elitism and prima donna instructors will make your life hell with last minute busy work that keeps you up all night . . . Yeah, all that and MUCH more!

No big deal, it is just a competitive business and companies do what companies do. You just want to find the best company for you.

You’ll soon get a good feel of what we are doing here with the checklists and can be confident about your decision making.

In the next post we will discuss the school itself, if it is accredited and some questions about what that accreditation is all about.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Don’t let fancy websites, cool videos or other marketing ploys make your decision for you – do your research before you choose your training school

TED’s Tips™ #2: The school that is best for YOU may not be the best school for your friend or someone else. The decision needs to be as individual as you are.

TEFL Training Options:

If the Traditional TEFL Training Model doesn’t Work for You

Okay, TEFL schools cost a bit of money and at least four weeks of your time – and time is money.

While it is nice to “Do it right”, not everyone has the money in savings or the ability to beg or borrow the money needed — or even the four-weeks vacation time that is required.

If you really think you can’t afford it, look into taking the course in countries where the course is cheaper. Don’t price it in your home country. It will be much more expensive there and ideally, you should take your training in the country where you intend to teach.


Because you will do your practice teaching with students similar to your real students when you go to work. It will also give you time to network a bit and find the best places to work.

Usually your TEFL instructors will have lots of experience in that country and region and can help set you off on the right path. Don’t miss all of that valuable experience and help.

Still not sold?

Okay, look into programs like Literacy Volunteers of America, who will provide you with some training before you start volunteering.

Here is a link to their mother organization called ProLiteracy: Literacy Volunteers in the USA and here is a link for volunteering with them outside the USA: Literacy Volunteers.

Also—take a look at some free online TEFL training at TEFL Boot Camp. It really is free [no catch, no fine print!] and has almost all the content of a full-blown TEFL course – but no tutoring or assistance is provided, nor is a certification provided.

Another option, try the TEFL Training for New Teachers eBook – which has essentially the same content as the TEFL Boot Camp website but comes with some great free bonuses: Two Peace Corps TEFL Training Manuals – designed for EFL teachers with no experience and the well known Fast Track Grammar Review for EFL Teachers. Usually the whole package is less than US$10. This is probably your best option if a real full-blown TEFL course is just not possible for you.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Any kind of training is always better than no training. Walking away from a lousy first class is not a good way to start your journey abroad. Give yourself a leg up by learning what to do, how to do it and when to do it.

TED’s Tips™ #1: If you can, do some real teaching, even if only on a volunteer level before you head overseas. It will make a big difference in your confidence level when standing in front of your first large class.

CELTA versus TEFL Certification

What’s the Difference between a CELTA and a TEFL Cert?

It’s a bit of apples and oranges really, but not really. All quality TEFL training programs will contain components of teaching methodology, English grammar, observed teaching practice and demonstration classes in front of your peers.

Most programs will also include information on the problems and needs of the EFL students in the country where they are located and this is very helpful for you if you take the course in the country where you intend to teach.

Generally speaking these programs are quite intensive, there is a LOT to learn in only a few weeks. Don’t plan on partying or hanging out on the beach too much while you are in training. Hang on the beach, but take your study materials with you . . .

CELTA is more standardized as it is a franchised program (franchised like 7-11s or Kentucky Fried Chicken, as examples) and the schools that teach the CELTA TEFL program must pay a royalty for each course participant. Possibly for this reason you will notice that CELTA programs are generally the most expensive around the world.

CELTA also is a program oriented towards teaching adults, the “A” in CELTA. If you wish to teach children, you might wish to lean towards a TEFL Certification program that will give you some practice with them as well as adults. Most TEFL Cert programs will try to give you a variety of practice teaching experiences and will cover teaching children AND adults. Many new teachers, just starting out, will spend some time teaching children, so this is an important consideration.

There is an elitism about CELTA and you will find people who rabidly consider it to be the only real TEFL course. But, you will also find that people have great loyalty to the TEFL school they went to. It’s a bit like loyalty to your university or high school – people spend some money, put in some hard work, and therefore want to feel that their school is the ONLY school or at least it is the BEST!

It’s like the kinship solders get from going to boot camp together.

Now . . . if you wish to teach in Europe, know that CELTA is considered the standard and the only “valid” certification. But this is usually because the employer you are hoping to find a job with is a CELTA sales outlet. So, of course, they want you to buy their program before they will employ you.

How do you get past this idiocy if you are applying for a job there? Volunteer to do a demonstration lesson – are they interested in your SKILLS or only in the piece of paper that they want to sell you?

Generally, you won’t find TEFL Cert schools pulling this scamming tactic on you. When you apply they will be happy to accept your TEFL Certification, no matter where you got it – as long as it meets the internationally accepted standards.

TED’s Tips™ #1: If you are going to teach in Europe – give in, go for a CELTA – but in the rest of the world no one cares.

TED’s Tips™ #2: If you have the opportunity, interview the primary teacher-trainer at a TEFL school you are considering. Try to get a sense of if they LOVE teaching or not. If not, don’t go there. If they sound excited about teaching, THAT is the teacher-trainer you want!