Many of those who read this blog or who are serving in another country know that teaching English is one of best ways to support yourself when abroad. Before we moved to Spain one of us was already teaching English. We had planned to both support ourselves while serving by teaching. We are happy that this has been able to work out for us. One issue that we had to overcome was understanding what certificate course we needed and what to look for. So here are some things that we learned.
When it comes to teaching English abroad just because you know how to speak English, doesn’t necessarily mean that you know how to teach it or that you’re necessarily qualified. This is why most reputable schools will require native English speakers, a college degree, and a TESOL certificate at the minimum. Sometimes when we tell people that we teach English they kind of look at us like it’s a hobby and don’t really consider it a real job. But the truth is that it’s hard work and this is why we are grateful for the training we received in our TESOL course.
Questions to Consider
Here are some questions to consider when looking at a course.
- Do you want to get certified online or on-site?
- How much time can you dedicate to earning your certificate? Can you do a full week intensive course (or longer), or do you need to take your time and study part-time?
- Does the school have a practicum teaching component?
- How many hours of instruction does the school provide?
- Is the school accredited and recognized internationally?
Online or Onsite Certification
Lately we’ve received a lot of emails about TESOL certificates. One commonly asked question is whether someone should take an online course or an onsite course. We have experience with both and it really comes down to flexibility. Both courses will be able to train you on the basic methods and theories of teaching English while the onsite course may be more hands-on and intensive while the online course will provide more flexibility and let you learn at your own pace. Another thing to keep in mind is the cost. Onsite courses tend to be more expensive than online courses. You also want to consider your own learning style. Some people may be disciplined enough to learn online whereas others need in-person instruction.
Another important factor is what is known as the practicum component. This is a section of the course where you practice teaching in front of an experienced teacher and get feedback. Many online courses are starting to provide this, usually around twenty hours. Some courses will even provide internships so that new teachers will be able to come away with experience and maybe even a job after obtaining their certificate. The practicum component is very important for newbie teachers because it helps them to put into practice what they’ve learned and feel more confident.
Many of the better courses will provide job assistance after graduating. This is useful because you can take advantage of the network that the school has and possibly land a job in your desired location.
Generally it is better to have a course that offers more hours. The best would be 120 hours (typically 100 instruction and 20 hours of practicum). However this is not required for everyone and the hours you choose depend on your goals and what you want to do with your certificate. Both my wife and I did not take courses that offered 120 hours but we have been able to work in multiple academies and for online companies just fine.
When choosing a TESOL program it can be viewed as an investment. Sometimes we hear about really cheap TESOL courses on discount sites for $59 or $90 with a really low amount of hours. More times than not these courses may not provide any practicum, job placement assistance or accreditation. Granted these courses will provide you with some benefit, but will they really be able to provide you with the skills and guidance you will need to be prepared to teach in a real classroom? Or will they provide you with assistance after you get your certificate to find a job?
This is huge. If the course that you are looking at is not accredited or internationally recognized it will do you little good when you are looking to find work. You will want to do your research to make sure that the organization providing the course is accredited by a respected independent body or that it is affiliated with a reputable university.
We hope that this information has been helpful to those who are weighing their options with deciding on a course. We are excited to be able to soon offer a TESOL course that we believe in with an organization that we have partnered with in the near future so that hopefully more can achieve their goal of serving in another country. If you have any questions about this article feel free to send us an email at [email protected]