If you follow us on Twitter (@LongingToTravel), then you have heard the great news that we have finally decided to enroll in a TEFL certification course. Some of our past posts give insight into how we came to this conclusion, but for now, let us explain what our research has taught us and what we’ll be doing for the next few months.
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Research Your Options
Yes. We spent hours on the internet reading websites, contacting ESL instructors on LinkedIn and learning about all our options. What we learned is that there are different acronyms we needed to understand before we could decide which ‘group’ we belonged to. What we found is that the different acronyms (TESOL, TEFL, ESL, etc.) are all part of the same family of teaching English to non-native speakers. As a result, we chose to further investigate TEFL certification since our goal was to teach English to learners outside of the USA.
Identify a TEFL Course Provider
Through our research, we were able to identify the major TEFL certification providers and choose a program that fit our needs. There are many options on the web (both in person classes as well as online), so this part can be overwhelming. Our research showed that there are accrediting bodies that vouch for the quality of certification programs offered and that there are a set of standards that are accepted worldwide (i.e., minimum number of class, practicum, etc.). This was very comforting to learn since we did not have a strong sense of which TEFL course provider to choose.
After deciding we wanted to get more information from the International TEFL Academy (ITA), we read EVERYTHING we could find on their web pages as well as cross-referenced some of their claims to see if other forums and websites made similar claims (i.e., that there are lots of teaching jobs available each year, that 100+ hours of course training is the global standard, etc.). We found their information to be consistent with other TEFL course providers, so our next step was to speak with someone.
Talk to the Provider and Choose a Course
The Admission Advisor we spoke with (Jeff) was extremely helpful and he answered all of our questions. It was helpful to speak with someone who had experience completing the TEFL course, searching for jobs, moving abroad, etc. He expressed that our questions and concerns were common and went on to explain answers in such great detail that we really couldn’t think of any follow-up questions (and if you know me, this is a feat in and of itself!). Our conversation with Jeff was integral in making the decision to choose a course with ITA.
Taking into consideration our finances, the fact that the holiday season is approaching (read: spending money on gifts) and that something like 80% of alumni from ITA took the online course, we decided to do the same. This allowed us to keep our current jobs, see what we thought of the course itself and to ultimately have time to prepare for our departure (the online course is 11 weeks long).
NOTE: If our personal situation was a bit different, we would have loved to take the class on-site (abroad or in Chicago) since the course would only take 4 weeks and for some regions of the world, finding jobs is easier to do in-person. So you should consider your personal situation and choose what fits your needs and desires the best (online vs. in-person class).
Begin Your Course
On November 11, 2013, we began the first day of our class. It has been a while since we were students, but so far, things are going well. What I am most impressed by is the number of resources available to us. For example, there are free course readings available and an optional textbook we can purchase. In addition to that, our course instructor is available for weekly (online) office hours and there are even additional lectures we can view online (like a webinar) FOR FREE! Yes, each week we can choose to watch 1-2 lectures hosted by other teachers. This is incredibly valuable for people like us who have never taught English before.
So far, we are happy with our decision to invest in a TEFL certification and have found that ITA has supported us throughout the decision-making process. We never felt pressured to enroll and always felt that we could contact Jeff with questions at any time.