Teaching English oversees is an increasingly popular career choice among graduates and those seeking an adventure within their careers. It encourages those from primarily English speaking nations to travel abroad and teach their native tongue to eager learners who could economically or socially benefit from including English in their language skills. Teachers will find themselves in language schools that offer English courses to both adult learners during their careers, and to younger learners in a more traditional classroom teaching role.
Like other career options, teaching English abroad generally requires TEFL certification and having such a wide variety of qualifications could create a lot of confusion among prospective teachers. The sheer volume of acronyms are not helping matters for a lot of teachers-to-be, either. So, let's look at various qualifications and their distinction.
There are dozens if not hundreds of qualifications that students could take as a means of gaining access to a career of teaching English abroad. Some of these qualifications are in-house certificates that are primarily used by the specific language school offering them. Certificates can be distinguished by their branding and are usually listed as TESOL within courses having British English focuses or TEFL certifications for American English focuses. Although lacking in flexibility, in-house qualifications are an excellent way to begin a teaching career. For those wishing to travel to one set location, then it is an option well-worth exploring.
Once you started successful careers using the in-house qualification, spend a significant amount of time gaining experience and building their teaching portfolios in your initial position – you can start exploring other possibilities: moving up the career ladder or to travel and teach elsewhere. This maybe a good time to get another certification, CELTA. Prospective teachers have undoubtedly read about CELTA during their research and rightfully so. CELTA is regarded as the de facto “king of the road” when it comes to certification of English teachers and an overwhelming majority of language schools will request it by name when looking for new teachers and employees. CELTA is closely equivalent to Trinity's Cert TESOL, which is another industry-leading qualification that differs only in regional availability rather than course content and global recognition.
Teaching English as a career option is often sought by those who are educated to degree level in a relevant liberal arts or an English-specific subject. In certain countries holding an undergraduate degree in English Literature or English Language is becoming increasingly requested by employers to satisfy visa and immigration requirements.
In reality, though, it is important to note that holding an undergraduate degree isn't necessarily a requirement of the field as a whole. There are language schools and vacancies that don't call for any formal education requirements beyond committing to an internal TEFL certification course prior to teaching a class. However, there are anecdotal reports that these positions aren't always reputable ones and employment standards can be very low in these circumstances. Prospective teachers who are serious about their future roles should consider it prudent to work towards a degree and proper certification prior to starting any sort of foreign travel.
Much like the availability of the qualifications themselves, there is no one set time to finish a TEFL course and each vary in their requirements. It is possible to complete a full-time CELTA course in four weeks, but this is a significant investment in both money and energy required to complete all of the necessary coursework and the preparation needed before a student's observed teaching practices. For those who appreciate a more accelerated approach, then it's certainly possible to complete a TEFL certification course quite quickly. However, many student teachers may wish to take a more relaxed approach and these can certainly be accommodated through other types of qualifications. It isn't unusual to find courses that range between six months and two years in duration.
While CELTA is regarded as a world-class TEFL certification, it has a price tag to match its prestige in the teaching world. CELTA is a classroom-based qualification and can cost students up to £1,500.00 GBP ($1,990.00 USD) for a full time course. This doesn't include other costs such as travel, accommodation, learning materials, and general expenses.
In house qualifications range in their prices, but often don't charge anywhere near the end cost of CELTA certification. Student teachers typically find courses for less than $500.00 USD. There are even free options that student teachers may wish to consider. For example, EF English First offers a completely free TEFL certification course to eligible learners that only requires student teachers to commit to one year of teaching in China or Indonesia following the course.
TEFL certification lasts for a lifetime and qualifications do not expire. However, some providers will require students to take refresher courses as a part of a continuing professional development plan. These aren't an established industry standard and CPD courses are currently overseen by employers rather than course providers, but CPD may become a more integrated part of the certification process in the future.
TEFL courses are available in all formats to suit a student's particular preferences. These include in-class teaching, correspondence courses by mail, and online TEFL certification courses. Many certification courses are available worldwide and students aren't likely living very far from their nearest provider right now!
Teaching English overseas offers a fun, varied, and exciting career. Obviously, a qualification required to be a teacher, so one has to go through a certification. It may seem rigorous at first, but it's nothing you can't handle once you are ready to put some time and effort in. The teacher in you is waiting to come out, so let him or her shine with a solid TEFL certification that unlocks the world to explore.