TEFL Training: What are the Accepted Standards?

What makes a TEFL Training Program/Certificate Acceptable or Not?

The Internet is the Internet and you will read many opinions, some very definite and positive, but still just opinions about what kind of TEFL Training is acceptable.  About international standards.  About what employers will or won’t accept.  Some people say only the CELTA or Trinity are okay and suggest you are wasting your money with anything else.

Most of the people making these statements are not employers.  Are not teacher trainers.  Are they the people you really want to hear from then?

What you need to know is that there is not ONE organization nor ONE set standard in the world for TEFL programs. Period.  There just isn’t.  Sorry.  It would easier if there were . . .

Be aware also that some training companies have paid marketing people that are cruising the internet marketing their programs, pooh poohing programs that are not theirs or anything that is not similar to theirs.  Often suggesting that programs that don’t exactly match theirs will not be accepted anywhere.   Keep your ears open – of course – but ignore that noise as best you can.

Bottom Line:

What teachers usually really want to know is this: If I take a specific course, will it help me get a job?  Will it meet the standards of employers who might be looking to hire me?   Will my money be well spent with a particular program or just wasted?

Here’s how to judge TEFL Training/TEFL certifications for yourself.

China, Korea and Thailand – in that order – are the largest employers of EFL teachers worldwide.  Fourth place?  Probably Japan.  Other countries barely show up on the radar, those are the BIG 4 of TEFL.

China first as it is the largest employer of EFL teachers in the world.  In theory, a TEFL certification is required in China in order to obtain legal working papers.   I say “in theory” as things are sometimes different from province to province even though this is a national requirement.

China will accept anything from a 20 hour online program up to the Full Monty of a CELTA or SIT program.  Up to you.  If you have the US$1500-2800 and four to six weeks time off to take a super course – of course! – do that.   If you have only the time and money for something more modest – do that.


Employers know that.

Korea is EFL’s second largest jobs market.  They require NOTHING in terms of TEFL Training.  A degree, yes.  A TEFL cert, no.  But . . . Korea is a somewhat competitive market for teachers as the wages are reasonable and due to the flush benefits (free housing, paid airfare, very low taxes), teachers can save up to US$1000 a month without really trying.

As Korea is a competitive market, any effort shown by a teacher candidate/applicant to demonstrate an interest in doing the job well, will help move you to the front of the line.   Thus, getting any kind of training will benefit your job search.

Thailand is EFL’s third largest market and requires a TEFL certification of at least 100 hours.   If you want to teach in Thailand – be sure to get a certification that is at least 100 hours – and you will be fine.

Japan does not generally require a TEFL certification, but is – like Korea – a competitive market where some training will help you gain a better job.

It is really that simple.

One important note/exception – if you intend to teach in Europe or the UK there is strong preference there for the CELTA name brand. In most of the rest of the world employers don’t generally have a preference. Know that schools that sell CELTA or even their own name brand, often prefer to hire students who have taken their course.

Be aware that you can NEVER meet 100% requirements of every country or every employer.  With 15+ years of classroom experience, a masters degree in education, a post-graduate certificate in TEFL – even I can not qualify for every job.  It just doesn’t work that way.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Get the training that fits what you want or need.  If you don’t want to invest too much time and money (or just don’t have that much time and money) then find a modestly priced course and go to work in a country where that is acceptable and helpful to your job search.  If you have the time and money for a Full Monty certification and want to work in France . . . then get take an in-classroom program from SIT, TEFL International, Text and Talk, CELTA, Trinity or 100 other course providers.

This post is one of several about TEFL Certification at theEFL ESL Blog Carnival.

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EFL ESL Teaching Methodology Made Simple

A reader recently wrote:

I am trying to find out more on Teaching English PPP

She was having trouble getting a grasp about what PPP or ESA or any teaching “method” was about.

There is a good basic and simple way to look at EFL teaching methodology – or, for that matter, any kind of good teaching method.  But . . . let’s use PPP as a simple example.

PPP is only an extension of good basic teaching methodology and that is this:

Presentation = 1. Teach something

Practice = 2. Have your students practice working with it to become familiar with it and understand it and how it works.

Production = 3. Have your students manipulate it and use it with their own information to help put it in long-term memory.  PRODUCE something new from what they have learned.

You can even teach mathematics that way.

Give your students new information, have them practice it in a structured sort of way (to help ensure success) and slowly remove the structure as they get better at using it.  The removal of structure can come in activities that provide at first, a LOT of structure and little chance for error and the following activities provide less and less structure as confidence and skills grow.

Read: http://teflbootcamp.com/teaching-skills/teaching-methods-for-tefl/

and listen to the audio podcast that goes with it here: http://www.teflbootcamp.com/TEFL%20Methods%20Podcast.mp3

and even more good material here:  http://www.englishraven.com/method_PPP.html

One problem for teacher-trainees (student teachers) is that they often think methodologies should be perhaps more complex.  It is really not rocket science.  It is just good simple method designed to help students learn what you are hoping to teach.

Got it?

TED’s Tips™ #1: Don’t OVERthink teaching methodology.  It is simple and it makes good sense to keep it simple.  When things get too complex, students tend to not learn what you are hoping you are teaching.

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How to Choose a TEFL Training School: What’s Best for You?

There are lots of generic statements out there on the web about a TEFL school must be this or must have that and on and on, but in fact, your personal factors are more important in the decision process.

There isn’t one correct answer.  The right answer is as individual as you and the reason  you are taking the training.  And you are, in fact, spoiled for choice.  That’s a good thing – as Martha Stewart would say . . .

A bit like real estate sales people “qualify” buyers, you need to qualify a school to see if it meets your needs.  Most school advertising talks about they are this or that, but they don’t tend to ask you what you think you might need or want.

The Best TEFL Training School for You is the one that best meets your needs.

Factors to consider before making a decision:

COST:   Can you afford what a particular school demands?  Price ranges can vary widely.   In-classroom courses can go from US$1200-1500 all the way up to $2800 or sometimes even more.  Even online courses have a wide range of prices from US$140 on up to US$1000 and sometimes even a bit more.

TIME:  How much time do you have to set aside for taking a course?  If it is an in-classroom course, remember to add in the cost of not having an income for four to six weeks while you are in training plus accommodation and other living expenses.  It is not realistic, unless you are already a somewhat experienced teacher, to work while taking a full-time in-classroom course.  If you can’t afford the time, an online course is a good option as you can study at your own pace while you remain on the job.

WHERE do you want to take your course?  Do you want to take the course near where you live now or in the city or country where you expect to begin teaching?

Where to you intend to teach?  This is important as certain countries may have requirements you will need to meet.  While most countries don’t require any TEFL training at all, if you want to teach in Europe, you can expect they will want a 100-120 hour program with at least six hours of observed teaching practice.  Some countries – like Thailand, will be less strict but still want 100+ hours of training.  China – requires a certificate, but will accept anything.  There is no minimum hours or any other requirement.  Just a certificate.

Since most countries do not require TEFL training, any training course you take is going to help you move to the front of the hiring line.

If you intend to teach in Europe, there is a name brand preference for CELTA and Trinity.  Most of the rest of the world is not name-brand conscious or will not even have heard of those two brands at all.

WHO do you want to teach?  Children, adults, business people?  Do you want to teach any specialties like TOEFL or IELTS?  Does the school you are considering offer options to help you with them?

 Which TEFL Training will Maximize your Employment Potential?

This is the concern that is really behind most people’s questions and it is important!  How do you maximize your employment possibilities while still paying attention to costs and time?


If you intend to make a long-term career of TEFL then teach for a year or two (make sure you like it!) and then go get a master’s degree in TESOL.  If time and money don’t matter, that is by far your best option.

Other options:  If you intend to teach for more than a couple years and time and money don’t matter – then take a good in-classroom course in the country where you intend to teach.  There you can do your teaching practice with EFL students who have similar grammar and pronunciation problems as the students you will be working with.  Learning how to deal with those issues will be a part of your training rather than a surprise the first day on the job.

If you intend to spend only a year or two teaching overseas and just want the experience – then an online course might be just fine for where you want to go.

If time and money are major considerations, consider a good online course to help you get the basics.  Do get some training though as students will be paying a lot of money to sit in a classroom with you.  It is only fair that you know how to deliver what they have paid for.

Is the School Responsive to you?

One last thing.  TEFL schools should have YOU first in mind.  Send them an email and ask about the program.  See if they respond.  Many programs won’t! What does that tell you about them?  About their interest in you?  What if an employer contacted them to determine if your certification was valid?!  But more likely you will have some questions and it is a good way to find out if a school has any real interest in their customers/students.  Give them an “F” for no response, a “D” for a generic cut-and-paste response and an “A” for having a real human get back in touch with you.

TED’s Tips™ #1:  Advocate for yourself and make sure that you take a course that will meet your needs and qualify you for the job you want.  Even if a training certification is not required, get some training anyway so you can provide a good service to your students.

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TEFL Training: Is it really necessary?

English teaching wannabes and newbies often ask several questions here:

Is TEFL training required to get the job I want? Do I have to have it?

Would it make a difference if I had it?

. . . and the answers are: sometimes, sometimes and yes.

Some countries require a TEFL certification before they will approve your legal working papers. Thus – before you can work in Thailand, Indonesia and a few other places, you need to complete a good TEFL course.

Most countries don’t require any TEFL training at all, but the better employers will prefer their new hires to have had some training. So, in fact, TEFL training may be required for a move up the food chain or even give you the ability to start out in a preferred position.

And while many countries and some jobs that don’t require any training at all, it shouldn’t be about just getting by with the minimum and, if you are lucky, just doing a mediocre job.

Will TEFL training really make a difference?

You bet! There are several ways in which you may benefit from TEFL training. First is that many employers will pay a small premium to teachers that have some good training. While often not much on a monthly basis, it adds up across a year and tends to easily pay for itself.

Add that to the idea that you can probably land a better job than the one you would get without training and you might be seeing an even better return on your investment.

Those are the good practical reasons for getting yourself some training. There are also some ethical, moral and emotional issues to consider.

The first is that you owe it to your students to get yourself some training. Students, in most foreign countries, pay a lot of money to sit in your class. Wouldn’t it just be fair to know what you are doing?

While teaching English overseas is not “brain surgery” or “rocket science”, it does require some skill to do it well. And as long as you are changing your life and heading overseas – why not do it right and feel good or even GREAT about the service you provide to your students?

The days of just showing up at a TEFL job and “chatting with the students for an hour” are long gone. Language schools these days would like you to provide some real teaching in their classrooms. And students almost intuitively know when a teacher knows what they are doing – or not.

One of the best reasons for getting yourself some training is that you will find preparing your classes much easier and you will enjoy your work more knowing that you are providing a quality service and not just skating by on someone else’s money. Best of all, you will sleep better at night.

It’s about doing it right – and feeling good about it.

Now . . . not everyone can afford four to six weeks of not working and the costs of a full blown TEFL certification program.  Online courses are accepted in three of the world’s largest TEFL jobs markets: China, Korea and Japan.  That means there are some lower price alternatives available to you.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Get some training. You will enjoy yourself more and do a better job.  Remember how lousy teachers really turned you off when you were still in school? Yeah, don’t be one of those.

TED’s Tips™ #2: If you can’t afford the “Full Monty” of a four-to-six-week course, check out a good online course.

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