So, you've finally done it. You've made the decision that after months of bouncing around looking for boring jobs, you're going to pack your suitcase, book your flight and head out into the big wide world to teach English as a foreign language.
However, teaching English abroad is not quite as simple as it used to be. Simply being a native speaker won't land you a job anymore, with language schools becoming increasingly thorough in their hiring process. This means that the first thing you will need to do is get yourself qualified.
When researching teaching English abroad, you are going to encounter a lot of confusing acronyms. TEFL is the term you are going to bump into the most, and it stands for Teach English as a Foreign Language. TEFL qualifications, along with the CELTA qualification, are the most popular ones taken by those hoping to teach English abroad.
Getting your qualification correct is essential. I remember my TEFL teacher telling me that my qualification was a passport to the world, and he was right. My qualification has allowed me to teach English in several different countries and I am constantly inundated with job offers from around the globe.
A lot of TEFL qualifications will sell themselves this way but not all of them will be able to deliver. Making the right choice when it comes to your TEFL qualification will be the single most important decision you will make in your English teaching career. But with so many options out there, how do you know you're getting the right one?
One of the biggest decisions you will have to make when you're choosing your TEFL certification is what kind of course you want to take. Online courses are becoming an increasingly popular choice, though, a lot of people will still opt for a more traditional in-house training course.
Of course, there are pros and cons of both options and the decision will largely come down to how much time you have available and how much cash you are willing to spend. Online courses are much better suited to those who can't afford to take a month out of their life and attend classes every day. They can often be the more affordable option as well and can also be great if you already have some teaching experience and just need to brush up on your skills.
In-house courses, on the other hand, do provide excellent real-world scenarios and will give you a much clearer example of what it is like to teach. If you have never stepped foot inside a classroom before, then this is probably the best route for you. The last thing you want is to fly out to another country, step inside a classroom for the first time and realise that it just isn't for you.
In this day and age, anyone can make their own website and as such, there are hundreds of companies out there offering TEFL qualifications. While a lot of these are legit organisations, there are some who will provide you with a qualification that isn't worth the paper it is written on.
The biggest piece of advice I can give to someone starting out in the TEFL industry is to make sure that you take the time to research your course and whether it suits the requirements of the country you are hoping to teach in. Taking a TEFL course can be a big investment of both your time and money, so you want to make sure you're getting the most out of that investment.
One of the best things you can do in your research is to read reviews from course alumni. Those who have actually taken the course are the ones most likely to give you an honest appraisal. In some cases, you may even be able to reach out to some of these people to find out some extra information. This was one of the biggest factors for me when I took my TEFL course.
It is also important to note what you may need to take your TEFL qualification. While some countries may allow you to teach English without a degree from your home country, a lot of them will not. This can be an essential part of the visa process and is something that you should definitely make sure you research in-depth.
One of the biggest factors in choosing which TEFL course to take is inevitably going to be the cost. While the temptation to take the cheapest course possible is strong, making sure you do your research and spend your money properly is vital. If one company is offering the same course as others for a fifth of the price, there may be some very good reasons for that.
While a lot of courses online will tempt you with low prices, they will often not deliver an effective, quality TEFL course. EF English First currently offer a free 120-hour accredited TEFL qualification providing you meet certain criteria. All applicants must pass an initial interview and should be a passport holder from one of the UK, USA, Canada, New Zealand or Australia. This is one of the best offers available on the internet for TEFL courses right now. They also offer a job placement upon completion, which is a huge selling point.
In short, there are lot of TEFL courses available on the internet, and the most important thing for you to do is research. Make sure you find the one that is best suited for you but also make sure that the course you are being offered is going to benefit your career and not just somebody else's pocket.