How to Tell If It\\\'s a Good TEFL Course
Dec 14, 2009 Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) 3957 Views
When I decided to train as a TEFL teacher in Madrid I discovered that like many important decisions I had to step away from it and carefully evaluate all of the aspects of where this could take me. After years of helping future teachers decide what TEFL course is right for them, I have worked out a fairly simple set of guidelines to find the right course for you.
• Remember - there are never too many questions
• Is there support pre and post course?
• Do you get that fuzzy feeling?
• What are the job contacts like?
• If it's too good to be true......
• Do you want to pay to party or to become a teacher?
There are quite a few accrediting bodies and it can often get confusing which one to take. However, my experience with the job market post course is that the schools and agencies generally want to know that it is accredited, that it has real teaching practice (6 hours being the standard) and that you know your grammar post course. An online course is a nice introduction but for me, its simple, would you drive a car after only doing an on line course (if the answer is yes, please let me know where you drive so I can avoid you!)?
If you are doing a course outside your own country and are unable to visit the school yourself, make sure the accreditation body regularly visits the facility and inspects it. You can then be sure that everything they say they have - they do indeed have.
Beware of TEFL academies that use the term 'internationally recognised' which means - nothing. Check that it is actually accredited and check with the organization to make sure it is true. It takes a few minutes to check and could save an awful lot of heartache.
Remember - there are never too many questions
It is always frustrating being referred back to a website for information when what you were looking for was a personal answer that related to you. Moving away from home and setting up your life in a new country is a big step so you should make sure the TEFL provider is willing to answer as many questions as you have. Be persistent and get the answers you want.
Ask to be put in touch with recent graduates who are a similar age and background to you. They won't be trying to sell you a course and you can usually rely on them to give you some frank and honest advice. Remember, you should get all this support before you even consider paying a deposit.
Is there support pre and post course?
Find out what support you are given pre course, such as accommodation; organizing visas; setting up a bank account; getting a mobile phone and anything else you need to be make your transition into the new culture. This is especially important if you don't speak the language of the country you are going to.
With post course support, you need to know that the academy is there to help you with getting a job, resources and advice about life in general. There is nothing worse than being given your TEFL certificate and being tossed out there into the world without much of an idea about how to go about it all. This was the case when I did my TEFL and I took some really silly jobs and spent the first 6 months feeling stressed and out of my depth.
Do you get that fuzzy feeling?
Don't underestimate your gut instincts. If you get that warm fuzzy feeling and the course is accredited, go for it. If the feeling you get through the initial contact is good, then you are probably on to a winner.
What are the job prospects like?
It can be the best TEFL course in the world but if they don't help you find a job and get you connected then they have let you down. Talk through the type of work you are looking for, business; general; children; teenagers; intensive work etc. Do they have contacts with that particular field? Again, ask to be put in touch with graduates who have been there 6 months plus to find out about their experiences with work. You are never going to get your golden schedule and the perfect job straight after the course but by the 6 month mark, you should be nearly there.
If it's too good to be true...
The TEFL industry whether it is in Madrid, Morocco or Mauritius, as with any industry, has a cowboy element. If the claims seem too good to be true and not backed up with real evidence or the price is very cheap, then think carefully before taking the plunge....if it's too good to be true...
Do you want to pay to party or to become a teacher?
The social side of any course is very important - post course! Remember you are learning to become a teacher and more importantly, you are paying to become a teacher. A good TEFL course should be intensive, hard work and rewarding. I have never once described our course as fun - we would be sued!
All these elements combined should help you make the right choice about your TEFL course.