• Jocelyn Hellested

Choosing a TEFL Certificate

Updated: Apr 7

For those that dream of teaching English abroad, it is important to consider getting a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate. Although you may speak English fluently, obtaining a teaching certificate assures potential employers that you not only speak the language but also have the ability to teach it. Understanding something and being able to teach it are two very different things!


Not all countries or schools require that you have a TEFL certificate but earning one will definitely give you a leg up on the competition. It will also give you the confidence and tools to be a successful teacher.


Once you decide that YES, you wish to pursue a TEFL certificate your next step is choosing a program. Do you want to take the course in-person or online, how many credit hours do you really need, is the course worth the cost? There are many things to consider and this is where things can get complicated. After doing a lot of research I chose to take my TEFL course with International TEFL Academy (ITA). Read on to see why I chose ITA and the things I considered before settling on this program.


ACCREDITATION:

One of the most important things to consider when choosing a TEFL course is to verify that it is accredited and recognized by international schools. You want to make sure that the program you choose is reputable and that its certificate is legitimate. What a bummer it would be to complete your course only to find that the positions you want to apply for will not recognize or accept your certificate. It would be heartbreaking! That is why it is important to do your research first. There are many courses out there on the internet but not all of them are accepted internationally and not all of them have an acceptable number of credit hours. Do research on the country you wish to teach in and the general requirements for foreign English teachers. You can google reviews for courses you are considering, speak to alumni of the program and look up how many credit and practicum hours are included in the cost.


In the end, I chose ITA's course because it met high standards of accreditation. ITA is a 150-hour credit course with an additional 20-hour practicum which gives you hands-on teaching experience. This meant that by the end of the course I had earned a total of 170 credit hours; much higher than the 100 credit hour minimum accepted by many foreign schools. ITA's program is also accredited through a third party English company called TQUK. For more information on their accreditation click here. Having a high-level certificate will help you in your job search and show potential employers that you are serious about your work.


WHO IS TEACHING THE COURSE?

Find out who is teaching the course. Is it a certified English teacher, an English major, do they have their bachelor's or master's degree? How many years have they been in the teaching field? Make sure that the individual who is teaching your class is qualified.


WILL THE COURSE WORK WITH YOUR TIMELINE?

What is your timeline? When are you hoping to move abroad? When do schools in that region hire teachers? Do you want to take the course online or in-person. These are all important things to consider before enrolling in your TEFL course.


I knew that I wanted to begin traveling in October of 2019 and I wanted to complete my TEFL course prior to departure so that I could begin teaching online before moving abroad. This meant I had the summer to complete the course. I ultimately decided to take the class online so that I could continue to work my 9-5 job in the states and save money while simultaneously completing my coursework.


Some folks prefer to take the course in the country they plan to teach in. This is a great way to get familiar with your new home while making friends and having a support network of other teachers. On the downside, it also tends to be more expensive. Please consider if you do this option you may have to save money prior to departing in order to afford living in a new country for a few weeks without working.


Click here to view ITA's course locations, dates and prices.


STYLE OF THE COURSE

You want a course that will do more than check the boxes to get you a job, you want to make sure that it will actually prepare you for the work you must do.


Without being too strenuous or time-consuming ITA's TEFL course prepared me to be an effective English teacher. It included a 20-hour practicum where I got hands-on experience teaching English learners. It also set me up for success with practical assignments such as creating my own lesson plans. Although I created them as an assignment I have since been able to utilize these plans in my own classroom.


DO THEY OFFER JOB SEARCH ASSISTANCE?

Does the organization offer any other perks besides the course? Will they assist in your job search help you create a resume or cover letter? Do they have connections with existing schools or have a network of teachers you can use as a resource?


One of the major reasons I decided to enroll in ITA's course was because they not only offer their teachers resources during the course but also after. Once obtaining the certificate they offer lifetime job assistance and resources when it comes to finding a job abroad or choosing a country to teach in. This includes country lists that outline peak hiring times for countries, average pay and a lot of other useful information.


They also have a large presence on Instagram and Facebook. It is so much fun to connect with fellow teachers abroad, hear their stories and use them as a resource as you begin your own journey. Like myself, they are eager to help others follow their passions and give them tips along the way. You can follow ITA on Instagram and join their Facebook groups once you enroll in the course. They have a series of Instagram takeovers where alumni show you a day in the life of teaching in their country. It is both entertaining and enlightening to see how different teachers are making the most of their time living and working internationally!



Ready to enroll or still have questions? Send me a message and I can give you some more insight into my search for a TEFL course and my experience with ITA's course. If you are interested in learning more about ITA click here to visit their website and speak with an advisor or here to enroll in a course.


ITA does have a referral program. If you choose to use my link and click here to enroll I will receive a monetary reward.

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