Get your TEFL Certification at Home or Abroad?

Another great question by a reader inspired this post.

Her question:

My sister and I are interested in completing a CELTA course in order to teach English in the UAE. My sister is familiar with the country and we have friends in Dubai. I have a BSc while my sister also has a secondary PGCE. Would it be better to study the CELTA in the UAE or in London where we are native and currently live?

I know you’ve previously recommended to study in the country in which one wishes to teach, but would studying in the UAE limit our prospects in other countries? Will completing the course in London look more attractive to employers globally? Considering the cost implications London would be the preferred choice, but I’m interested to hear your experienced opinion.

My Response:

It is almost always better to take an in-classroom course in the country in which you first intend to teach.

It may seem more cost effective to take it where you are currently located, but taking your course there does little or nothing toward your end goal of landing a job in the UAE.  Taking your course in the UAE immediately gets you into the environment and on the trail of good jobs.

Better TEFL schools will have employers coming by the school looking for you.  It will quite likely happen in Dubai.  But I quite doubt that a Dubai employer will be dropping by the course in London.

For most people a TEFL cert or a CELTA, etc is a tool to get the job they want, not the end goal. So purchase the tool that gets you closest to your goal.  In your case, a course in Dubai or elsewhere in the UAE.

No one will really care if you took the course in London, Dubai, Saigon or even Yangoon. In fact, when they see that you took it outside your home country, they will see that you can survive and thrive in a culture different than that of your home country. To me that is a bonus.

Employers, not infrequently, have difficulty with people who have not yet lived and worked outside their home country. It is a very real risk factor in hiring. Some people get homesick, others just can’t adapt. It is an unknown factor that adds risk to a hire. If you are already living in the culture where you want to be hired, it greatly reduces that perceived risk by the employer and is an advantage for you.

That’s my opinion anyway . . . I hope that helps in your decision making.

TED’s Tips™ #1: It is almost always better to take your in-classroom TEFL training in the country in which you first intend to teach.  It creates a real advantage in terms of getting yourself your first job.