Why you should do your CertTESOL (even if you don’t want to be a professional teacher)

“A minimum of at least two years\’ experience required. Minimum requirement: CertTESOL or equivalent.” This is what you’ll need if you plan on applying for English teaching jobs in countries like Australia or New Zealand. Their standards for ESL teachers are high and the job market is tough. That’s why it would be very difficult to apply if you are an expat looking for a job in either country (I mean, why employ you if they can just employ locals?) Not to mention both countries’ draconian visa laws. Plus, if you are over 30, like me, your chances for applying for the famed working holiday visa is practically null and void.

My plan is to settle down in one of these locations after I finish in China. “Finish in China” is a vague phrase or statement which can mean many things. For some it can mean finishing a gap year to return home, for others, a longer journey consisting of self-discovery and travel, but often riddled with existential questions like “What to do next?” and “What is my purpose?”

For a long time, while I was teaching online classes at SHOTC (EF’s, Shanghai Online Teaching Center), I was in the latter boat. I stayed too long, stagnated in my professional growth and became too comfortable teaching the same PPTs over and over again. Until an opportunity came up to enroll for CertTESOL with EF through Trinity College. In fact, EF offers ongoing teacher training through CDP (Career Development Plan training at individual school locations) and certificate options through EF’s corporate training department program.

The Trinity Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages or CertTESOL for short, is a certificate designed for people who have little to no experience in teaching English and is especially helpful for those considering teaching English full time, especially when you don’t have a bachelors degree in education. The course consists of at least 100 hours of teaching input, as well as 6 hours of “supervised, assessed and moderated teaching”.

But why do it? I’m not even in China to be a “real” teacher.

Having an internationally recognized teaching qualification under your belt is something worth working towards for several reasons, even if you don’t plan on pursuing teaching as a lifetime profession:

1. As you teach English, you will find that extra in-depth knowledge will give you a deeper understanding and appreciation for what is happening inside any English classroom. It will make you more motivated in your job and you will feel more accomplished every time you apply a new skill you learned in the course.

2. Your deeper knowledge will make your classroom experience with your students more rewarding and also more enriching. In turn, this will make the time you have in China more meaningful.

3. Because CerTESOL is also accepted in most countries around the world, it opens many doors for further travel, especially for those who “teach to travel, or travel to teach”.

4. There are many hard and soft skills that a person picks up in both the classroom and in the course, which could be transferable to other fields or jobs. It could firstly serve to enrich your original degree. The exposure to the socio-linguistic dimension of ESL is a great way for me to reflect on what I’ve already acquired theoretically in my major, Social Anthropology. Secondly, if your teaching sojourn is more transitory, perhaps you can use your new skills in a different field or endeavor.

5. Finally, doing CertTESOL may inspire you to do your DipTESOL. It could also put you on the path to becoming a senior teacher at your center. It will aid you when mentoring and training others, which is also a transferable skill.

I’ve been applying what I’ve learned in CertTesol for a year now and feel much more fulfilled professionally. There is more structure to my teaching, and I get to reflect on my classes in a more conscientious, philosophical way. It’s also giving me long-term goals to work for. If I want to immigrate down-under, I know what’s at stake career-wise and doing CertTESOL opened up new doors.

Sources and further reading:



Teach, travel, and train with EF English First



Post by: Maggie Nel

Saffa (South African) by heart, but expat and world citizen by nature, I came to Shanghai in 2015 and have been living and working here since then. I have traveled to Vietnam, Mayanmar and New Zealand and plan to see Kyoto in Japan this year. I like eating, Cappuccino, writing and watching horror films.
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