Teaching English at Multi-National Corporations

Teaching Business English: at the corporate level

You’ve already figured out that much of the current material on this blog comes from the great questions you readers ask and I will feature another one today.

This one we will do more as a Q and A than most others.

This reader was interested in teaching ESP and focused on the Middle East as an option and he had a specific interest in Saudi Arabia. Here we go:

Hi Richard (name changed to protect the innocent!),

You wrote:
You mentioned that you had vast experience teaching for corporate companies.

I am not sure “vast” would be the correct word, but yes, probably more experience than most teachers.

When you taught, for example, Roche Pharmaceuticals (Taiwan), did you adapt the English course to suit the pharmaceutical industry e.g. English for special purposes?

Absolutely. Yes. But what was adapted was based on a good Needs Analysis of what they felt they were having difficulty with. It was not based on a preconceived notion about what I might have thought they needed.

Would you say today, that corporate companies want specialised courses to fit their industry, so if you did teach a petroleum company, would it be necessary to study courses in geology/petroleum engineering etc.

Yes, they want a course focused on their business needs. No, you don’t need to excessively study their specialty, but it would be important to understand and have some idea about what the people you are teaching actually do on the job, when and how and why do they use/need English, and what kinds of problems they need help with. Showing up completely prepackaged is not the answer. Good needs analysis when you arrive is critical.

Also, which industry sector needs English instructors the most??

It’s a big world – I don’t know. I would say a need exists probably everywhere and in every industry. It has more to do with WHERE, rather than What. If, for example, you are teaching in the Gulf States – well, it is likely the need is in the petroleum and perhaps hospitality industries. If you are teaching in Nepal – probably tourism and hospitality, in Switzerland probably banking and hospitality, and so on.

These days many students study abroad, so their English is a higher level than students 30 years ago, so where would there be a niche market for English instructors in corporate firms?

Same answer as above. The need is Global and not always where you might think it is. It is not just about foreigners speaking to English speakers. It is about English being the only common language between perhaps a Chinese exporter and the Brazilian who needs her product. Or a Japanese construction company working with local engineers installing a high speed train in Bulgaria. Got it?

And finally, what was the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Helping people improve their career prospects. And that was a GREAT reward.

TED’s Tips™ #1: It is better to focus on teaching ESP perhaps in a an industry in which you are familiar and preferably experienced rather than looking for an industry and trying to adapt to it.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Understand that businesses want an end product. They don’t hire a teacher or pay for English classes just to take classes. They hire you to solve a language problem and you need to focus on and get to the root of what your ESP students need. If not, you will quickly be out the door.

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

Teaching English for Special Purposes

Develop your own ESP

Yeah – and I don’t mean Extra-Sensory Perception . . .
This is one of my favorite topics and one that newbies and especially us oldies ought to make sure we pay attention to.

There are many ways of being disadvantaged in TEFL around the world: If you are old, black, non-native speaker, not pretty, not handsome and the list can go on and on and we haven’t even talked yet about your skills!

How to deal with that discrimination? How to create an advantage for yourself? ESP. English for Special (or Specific) Purposes.

Most people have a work history from which they can draw draw special skills. And usually the older you are, the more in-depth skills and/or the greater variety of skills you will have.

I recently met an older guy looking for a teaching job in a wonderful destination resort area. He was older and not likely to be picked up by the local school system who like younger women for teaching the younger kids. Nor did he really want that type of job.

We talked a bit and sure enough – there was his ESP – he had been through corporate management training with one of the worlds larger five-star resort chains.

Let see – teaching screaming kids in a hot classroom – or teach hotel receptionists in small groups in an air-conditioned corporate training room? Up to you as they say . . . Me? Give me the hotel job! So that is where this man is headed. Nice resume focused on TWO things: His hospitality training and experience and his TEFL training and experience. The perfect ESP marriage.

So let’s beef up his job search a bit. Not just hotels and resorts, but what about colleges and universities that have hospitality training programs?

TED’s Tips™ #1: Take a good look at your resume – before you got into TEFL. Identify what ESP skills you might have. Exploit them!

TED’s Tips™ #2: Don’t forget colleges, universities, technical schools, specialized vocational secondary schools and more who might also value your EXTRA skills.

Don’t ignore your ESP advantage. It will not only open many more doors for you, but you will also likely teach people with similar interests as your own. You’ll probably like the higher wages that ESP classes tend to pay too.


Teach English in the Middle East

What is Needed to Teach English in the Middle East?

A potential teacher who knew I had spent five years in Saudi Arabia asked me the following questions recently:

What qualifications are required, besides a TEFL certification to teach in Saudi Arabia?
How did you adapt to the lifestyle there, and was the pay reasonable?

The better jobs in the Middle East, not just Saudi Arabia, tend to require a relevant graduate degree and usually a minimum of 3-5 years experience – usually more than less.

Students in that part of the world can be difficult to work with and schools there tend to prefer more experienced and older teachers, as they know how to deal with such difficult students. The culture tends to be very argumentative and students are often quite spoiled and view teachers as servants. Therefore you’d better have an excellent handle on how to deal with discipline problems BEFORE you go.

The lifestyle is not easy to adapt to, but that is quite an individual question, some people adapt well to different cultures and not to others. The failure rate of teachers who went to Saudi Arabia was high, even though schools tended to be very careful in their selection process.

They culture of the KSA in particular can be difficult to live in – depending also on the part of the Kingdom in which you live and your housing arrangements. Do some reading on the country and visit forums of people who live there to understand better. There, for example, is no such thing as “dating” – it is against the law with very harsh penalties. No movie theaters. No night clubs, no nothing. And on and on.

Wages were good because they had to be good to get and keep only the best of teachers who could survive the culture and handle the discipline problems. I spent five years in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and it was a real education about things we have no idea about in Western Christian countries and societies.

I taught at the university level and I met a few people who taught at the high school level and it was generally thought to be “hellish”. I wouldn’t even try it and that is likely where you might end up with just a TEFL certification and a degree. Even the students at language schools are difficult. So, be aware that wages are high for a reason. And there is a reason why they hire only seasoned and well experienced teachers. Because the culture will chew up and spit out the inexperienced and unqualified rather quickly.

Now, there are some people who like the culture and the Middle East is a haven for gay men – as it is a man’s world – though it is a bit underground. If that is your world then you might want to explore further. I don’t know that world and can’t give many details as I went and left as a married heterosexual. If you are a single male, realize you may live in that subculture and be housed and sometimes room with members of that subculture. If you are married, as I was, you would be housed in different housing settings for married people and families.

Do know though that the local culture, as a result of a lack of recreation and/or sexual outlets, is high tension and argumentative. Especially in SA, you will teach and be allowed to interact ONLY with men. My wife taught a branch of the same school where I taught, yet in five years I was never allowed, nor would I ever be allowed, to set foot in her school. She visited mine only once – when the school was closed – on a tour with other female teachers to visit the library.

That said, can you break into that world to teach? Probably, but I don’t know your qualifications and experience. Or your goals or ability to adapt and survive in a very different and difficult culture.

My statements about teaching in that part of the world are strong, but it is not a place for the weak.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Research the culture of any country you intend to work in. You will not only work there, you will LIVE there too.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Wages are relative. If wages are high there is usually a reason. Either the cost of living is high or the students are difficult – or both. You can sometimes save more in countries that pay less. I earned less, but saved more in Korea than in Saudi Arabia, for example.

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

What TEFL Training Courses Don’t Teach You #4

Miscommunications and Misunderstandings When You are Looking for a Job

It doesn’t need to be a big deal. Pay attention!

If you remember last week’s post we talked about a misunderstanding between a new teacher and his employer. The misunderstanding came about due to some miscommunication when the employer – a non-native speaker – had some difficulty expressing urgency in her message, causing the new teacher to assume he was about to be fired!

Clarify Clarify Clarify

I want to relate another relatively similar story that says “New teachers – pay attention and clarify, clarify, clarify!”

Another newbie English-teacher-about-to-be in the middle of their visa process understood their employer to suggest that everything that cost money during the visa process would be paid for by the school, including things he needed to do in his home country. This, in spite of a contract that specifically said the expenses in China would be paid.

You are dealing with non-native speakers

Please understand, when you are seeking a new job teaching English in another country, that many times your communication will be with speakers of English who are NOT native speakers. And remember that even native speakers can have misunderstandings and miscommunications. So why would we expect our communications with non-native speakers to be problem free?

We should, in fact, assume that those communications might be problematic.

Whenever anything seems to be “too good to be true” or a rather surprising problem, seek to clarify the situation using the strategies suggested in the previous post (#3). Rephrase what the speaker said and ask if that was what was intended. You will often be surprised!

If something upsets or confuses you, ask a colleague to help sort it out.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Our Job is Communication. Communicate! Practice good communication skills all the time.

TED’s Tips™ #2: I hope you can see that this post and the previous one had very unhappy potential and both could have been solved easily.

Is this possibly the difference between people who are successful abroad and those who are not? You tell me.


What TEFL Training Courses Don’t Teach You #3

They don’t teach you how to apply what you have just learned to your job search skills.

This is important. And the next post on this same topic is important. But only if you are looking for a job or are thinking of looking for a job teaching English abroad.

A man I was working with recently became upset over a conversation with a new employer. He was in the process of getting his visa paperwork set up, but had experienced delays in getting his health exam (required in many countries) completed.

When he contacted me she reported that his new employer was possibly going to fire him or at least cancel his new contract if he did not complete the health exam by the following Wednesday.

Wow. Big problem if you have quit your job and are packed and ready to head across the world.

Well . . . it didn’t quite sound right so when I checked with the employer – who was not a native speaker – the message was different. The message was “hurry up!”

How did this miscommunication happen?

Where did good communication break down and how might you avoid or solve such an event?

Where it broke down was that non-native speakers of English often don’t know how to express themselves strongly. How to press a point assertively and appropriately. They need to be taught such things (did they tell you that in TEFL Training?) and almost every experienced Business English trainer will have spent considerable time on exactly that topic.

Somewhere in the communication with the boss, the boss implied or somehow communicated more than what she intended. And the teacher-to-be took the English quite literally and seriously and assumed that he was about to be fired.

You can’t do that!

(take things too seriously) Do you see how easily this could have become a disaster to the new teacher? And even a major problem for the employer as they would have found themselves short a teacher come the new semester?

TED’s Tips™ #1: If you intend to be a language professional, you quite need to learn how to interpret what is said to you by non-native speaker supervisors and colleagues (and your EFL students) and to seek clarification if something doesn’t seem to make sense to you or seems to be an exaggerated or inappropriate response to a situation.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Check the suspect statement by repeating it back to the speaker and then rephrase it and ask if that is what they meant. If it is still confusing, ask again and rephrase again. YOU are the teacher and the communication may well need to be sorted out and you are the person with the skills (we all hope!) to figure it out. Consider it a challenge!

Don’t let these little things get in the way of your new life teaching English abroad. They are too easy to avoid.

Cheating in the EFL Classroom

Another thing they don’t teach you in TEFL Training

When I look through the CELTA Trainer Manual and the Trainee Book – there is not one single page on cheating. Not one single word! It is as if we are pretending that it is not a problem for those of us who teach in public schools, colleges and universities.

We can actually spend more than a couple posts on the issue of cheating, but I am going to help you first with some ideas that can help keep you out of trouble.

I’ve not yet worked anywhere that had a policy that cheating was okay. But I have worked many places where cheating was going on and rules against cheating were not enforced.

As we are all aware there are formal and informal procedures that go on in all institutions such as schools. How cheating is dealt with is an issue that often has vastly different formal and informal procedures.

What’s Wrong with Mr. Tucker?

While you might think that some schools will happily back you up when you catch cheaters, you will sometimes find your zeal quickly dampened.

I worked once at a school in Saudi Arabia with a very strict anti-cheating rules and this school was excellent for backing up their teachers when it came to discipline in general. But if you caught people cheating just a bit too often (like maybe more than once!), the question quickly became, “What’s wrong with Mr. Tucker? Why do people cheat in his class so much?”

Yeah!! Teachers that were too successful at catching cheaters were often in trouble themselves and brought under scrutiny to see why THEY were such a problem. Welcome to the real world . . .

Prevention is the Key

There is a good lesson in the question of “What is wrong with Mr. Tucker” and issue is prevention.

Understand that your job as a teacher is not to bust cheaters, but it is to prevent cheating. To not allow cheating does not mean that your task is to catch people at it. In a school setting it usually means that your job is setting up the environment so that people won’t cheat.

Preventing cheating is relatively easy unless you have a classroom that is bursting at the seams with students. And even then you can schedule two different exam times and test people in smaller groups even in your office if you have to.

Have your students leave their books and telephones and other devices in the front of the room where you can see them. Have students take tests and exams only on paper that you give to them. They should take their seats only with a writing implement.

Have strict absolute rules about no talking and about keeping one’s eyes only on their work. I used to post a big notice on the marker board that said, “No Talking, No Looking and No Crying” (for those who hadn’t studied). Put a couple eyes in “Looking” and a crying face next to the “Crying” and you can remove a bit of the tension of being strict.

Walk about the room. Don’t sit at your desk or at the lectern grading papers or reading a book. Standing in the back of the room and walking about quietly is the best way to help students resist temptation. After a few years you will have a good laugh at some of the wonderful ways students try to cheat.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Try to determine the level at which your school will support you in fighting cheating. If the informal rule is that they don’t want you creating any problems at all – there are informal ways of enforcing rules. I have more than a few times walked up behind a student as he was beginning to slip out a cheat sheet and just taken it out of their hand and walked away. Cheating was prevented, the student was happy they weren’t busted, so didn’t say a thing – and the school was happy too. That is not ideal. But it is one way to deal with it informally.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Prevention works best if you talk with your students about cheating and what the rules are BEFORE they take an exam. About exactly what is allowed and what is not. Talk about the rules both in the class preceding the exam and at the beginning of the examination period. If you are an educator, believe in education and teach your students to NOT cheat.

What TEFL Training Courses DON’T Teach You #1

Be Prepared for TEFL Freedom

One of the most frequently asked questions I get when I am placing people in schools in China is this: Will the school have already prepared lessons and lesson plans for us?

Well, after I stop chuckling . . . my usual answer is, “No.”

But really the answer depends on where you are going to teach. In China with only a BA/BS and a TEFL certification you can land a university teaching position. With only a TEFL Certification OR only a degree language school positions are available.

Here is my real life response to someone who is taking a position at a university (more about language schools next time) who asked specifically:

I was wondering if I should bring teaching materials with me, and how much flexibility will I have to use my own materials?

My response:

I’ve taught in four countries and frankly ALWAYS preferred my own materials to the often irrelevant and unfocused materials that were usually offered (if any were offered at all!). Some schools do have some decent materials, but most don’t.

How much flexibility? Probably a LOT and hope for a LOT. Usually schools that have a well-defined and pre-designed program are rigidly holding on to what are often terrible materials and a curriculum that doesn’t work well for their students.

Colleges and universities, especially the ones with small EFL programs, usually just expect that you know what to do and give you the freedom to do it. I have rarely encountered even a decent syllabus after working at eight different colleges and universities in those four countries. Very large English departments though are more likely to be better structured and organized.

I don’t mean my criticism of schools to be negative – it is in fact very positive – as the freedom tends to allow you to build exactly what is needed for your students. Nothing is worse than being forced to teach a very structured program that doesn’t help your students at all.

Now, sometimes a school will give you a book, the book somebody used last year. Sometimes you will be expected to use it as the campus bookstore ordered it and sold it to all the students already. So you use it a bit and add in your own materials and gradually fade out of the book. You will need to use their book a bit, so the students don’t complain about being sold the book – practical considerations! Next semester you get to pick the book.

How the world really works

I had a teacher contact me once, looking for a job because he was about to quit the job he had just taken. His comments were: The school is very unprofessional – they told me to just develop my own program.


Yeah, in my mind the PERFECT teaching position! And he was going to quit!

Be happy for the freedom you will have in a position that offers it.

Certainly in most Asian countries and especially at smaller schools you will be offered a lot of freedom and the school will expect you to know what to do. Especially as they are often paying you more and sometimes much more than the non-native speaker local teachers.

TED’s Tips™ #1: LOVE the opportunity to release your creative skills in the classroom. So few teachers in the world have that opportunity.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Teaching is a profession. Treat it like one. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Evaluating a TEFL Course: Part 4


Visa Issues when taking a TEFL Certification Course

Before you head overseas, you need to find out what type of visa you will need to enter the country you are going to and how to obtain it.

Sometimes you don’t need to do anything in advance, a “visa-on–arrival” is issued and you are on your way.

Ask these questions about your visa while you are in training – KNOW before you go:

Most of these questions are relatively self-explanatory

1. Do I need to obtain a visa prior to arriving in country?

2. If I do not obtain a visa prior to entry, how long can I legally stay in the country?

3. If I must obtain a visa, how much does it cost?

4. Is the visa difficult or expensive to obtain, or take a long time to get?

5. Can I extend the visa to stay in the country for a longer period of time?

6. Does the school help me obtain a visa? Or is it just simple and easy?

7. Will the initial visa cover me for the duration of the training course?

8. If I seek work in the country will this visa be convertible to an employment-type visa?

9. If I can not convert the visa, what do I need to do when I find employment to be sure I am working legally?

10. If I need to do a “visa run” to obtain a working visa, what are the typical costs involved? Do employers usually pay for or reimburse those costs?

11. How long does the typical process take to convert to legal working
papers and what is required?

TED’s Tips™ #1: Know the visa process and issues before you go to any country. Get, stay and keep yourself legal at all times. Your visa status and your legal presence in a country is your personal responsibility. Not that of the school, your employer or anyone else.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Be sure you understand the costs in time and money of getting a proper employment visa once you finish training and start working. In some countries it can be time consuming and costly. In others, simply the stamp of a clerk sorts it all out. Know for sure before you go.

Evaluating a TEFL Course: Part 3

Evaluating your Primary TEFL Course Trainer


Some schools will have only one primary teacher for your course, though other experienced teachers will help with the observed teaching practice, and other schools will have several teachers, who will teach you different components of the course.

Either way is fine, but you should probably ask or know the answers to following questions about your primary instructor.


Because the author of this website once had one of his teacher-trainee students hired fresh out of the TEFL certification course to provide teacher training at a competing school. Would you want that teacher, who had never really ever taught a class on his own?

If you can, ask your teacher-trainer directly, via email or telephone, these questions:

1. What are your qualifications [education, certification, etc]?

Though TEFL Cert and CELTA are courses designed to be given to high school graduates, it would be nice if your instructor has a relevant degree and really understands how teaching and learning works.

Preferably a teacher-trainer should have a MATESOL or at least an M.Ed. and some sort of TEFL certification – PGCE, a DELTA or something similar.

2. How much and what kind of experience do you have?

A minimum of six to eight years in a least two countries, preferably teaching kids and adults in a variety of settings would be preferred.

This way they can help you more and will have a deeper and wider understanding of the problems teachers face. Ask specifically about number of years and number of countries.

3. Does your experience include a variety of students in a variety of
school settings? Tutoring? Ask specifically if you are not told.

Have they ever taught in the type of setting(s) you expect to teach in? If so, they can give you much better direction and advice.

4. Do you enjoy teaching? Why or why not?

Believe it or not, there are teacher-trainers who do NOT enjoy teaching. They teach as a way to travel and see the world and to live overseas.

Don’t take a course from one of these people, or you too will end up with a bad attitude in the classroom. It is better to learn to ENJOY your work. After all, it is a positive change in your life that you are considering.

5. What do you enjoy about teaching?

Listen closely for if they REALLY like teaching or not

TED’s Tips™ #1: It is the author’s very strong opinion that your teacher-trainer should have at least six or eight year’s experience in at least two countries, in at least two or three different settings (language school, public school, university, tutoring), with kids AND adults, and some sort of formal education in Education or a DELTA, ideally a master’s degree.

You want you to get the BEST, but sadly teacher-trainers with those credentials are rare.

TED’s Tips™ #2: DON’T buy slick marketing, beautiful websites, impressive looking and sounding curriculum. Buy the BEST teacher-trainer you can find. Bottom line: it is that teacher-trainer who is going to make YOU a good teacher.

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!

Share your Talent with TEFL Teacher Training – Please!

We welcome guest articles from experienced teachers and even newbie teachers.

If you have something you feel is important to share – particularly related to teaching and skills training- we’d love to post it here for you.

We don’t think we know everything, so we are happy to learn more from you.

We are interested in creating a successful skills for students and how you have made that happen.

By helping others, you help yourself in the big scheme of karma . . .

We are also interested in country profiles – an overview of the jobs scene in a specific country – IF you are working there or have worked there recently.

Requirements of a Guest Post

Sorry that we have to be so specific, but history says we must . . .

A minimum of 400 words are required and we prefer 500-600 words.  More is okay if there is meat on the bones.

Please write using English correctly.  Don’t submit something written in email short hand.  We don’t really have time to edit your work.  Inability to write properly probably means you should not be teaching English.

Links – unless to very authoritative websites – are not accepted.   Writing an article for TEFL Teacher Training to get a link to your blog or website is not what we are looking for.  We will not post it.  If you submit an article with such a link and we like the article – we will remove the link and post your article.  Fair warning!   If you don’t follow our wishes, we won’t follow yours.

Links again – absolutely, positively NO links to irrelevant sites.  That means no links to gambling or gaming sites, to any unrelated to teaching English abroad.  Don’t waste your time or ours by submitting articles with such links.  We DO read submissions.  Preferably, just no links at all unless very germain to the topic.

We 100% reserve the right to accept submissions that we want and to reject those that do not interest us.    We are not interested in fights, debates or anything other than what we think our readers would like to know.  We might disagree about what they want to read and know – and in that case – our opinion is final.  We won’t debate it with you.

Submit your article to Ted @ TEFLteachertraining.com using ONLY a Word document.   Please put TEFL Teacher Training in the subject line.

My apologies, but some legal mumbo jumbo . . .  Terms and Conditions, etc.

Anything you write and that we publish becomes the property of TEFLteachertraining.com

We are the sole deciders of if it remains on the site or is removed and if it should be edited or altered in any way.

By submitting your article to agree to the above conditions.

TWO WAYS . . .

There are two ways to go about this.  You may contact us and ask if we are interested in your topic and we will let you know OR you can just write it up and send it.   A well written article may convince us of something we would have rejected had we been asked.

Either way – send your inquiry or article (Word documents ONLY) to Ted @ TEFLteachertraining.com – Again – Please put TEFL TEACHER TRAINING in the subject line.




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