What is TEFL?
First and foremost, TEFL is merely an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. It may also be referred to as TESL, Teaching English as a Second Language or TESOL, Teaching English to Speaker of Other Languages.
Fear not, there is little difference between each of these courses – with all three allowing you practice teaching English as a foreign language upon completion.
Why are there so many different courses available?
The real confusion stems from the difference between online courses and face-to-face courses. For a TEFL cert to be valid, it must be internationally recognised by an accrediting body such as ACELS. Essentially, this ensures that all TEFL certs worldwide meet a professional standard.
Many online courses claim to be ‘internationally recognised’; however, they often use this statement as a type of red herring, as they are in fact not recognised by a national government professional accreditation e.g. QQI/ACELS in Ireland of Ofqual in the UK.
What is a national accreditation body and what affect does it have on a TEFL cert?
A national accreditation body will provide a course with a professional seal of approval. In short, when a TEFL course is accredited, it means that the cert is internationally recognised and that it meets the minimum guidelines exemplified by CELTA – Cert in English Language Teaching for Adults.
What are the minimum guidelines outlined by CELTA?
CELTA, is essentially a brand of TEFL which is affiliated with Cambridge University.
Its guidelines include a minimum of 100 hours of teacher training, which must include 6 hours assessed teaching practice. Crucially, these 6 hours must be spent with authentic foreign students, with a minimum of two different levels of student, e.g. beginner/advanced, Upper Intermediate/ Pre-Intermediate, required to progress from the course.
Generally speaking, CELTA courses span a 4-5 week period, with 6-8 teaching practice sessions along with regular assignments and continuous home assessments contributing towards an overall result.
When should I do a TEFl course and approximately how much will it cost?
In order to teach with a TEFL cert, you must have the equivalent of a level 7 degree, although you may take the course at any given time, your cert may not meet the national professional standards until you meet this requirement.
Essentially, this means that students may use their TEFL certs after the third year of their degree. This makes the second year of college the ideal time to take a TEFL course, giving you license to travel from the summer of third year onwards.
In terms of cost, the price of entry-level courses varies from company to company. Based on Niall’s expertise, a CELTA course will cost in the region of €1500; however similar courses such as the ACELS CELT and TESOL sponsored by Trinity College London are available for up to 500 less. So don’t be afraid to shop around, so long as you’re certain the course is internationally accredited.
What jobs are available to graduates with a TEFL cert, and where are the jobs stationed?
With its burgeoning reputation, particularly in Asia, a TEFL cert allows you to travel the world while earning enough money to pay your bills. TEFL teachers are highly sought after in Asia, while European destinations such as Russia, Spain and Italy offer good money to English teachers.
Having spoken to Niall, it is evident that many TEFL teachers are practitioners of a double life – whether that be the life of a backpacker, an artist or a dreamer – TEFL has you covered!
Where can I go to find out more about TEFL?
First and foremost, TEFL Training International offers a website with more details on their courses and on TEFL in general. They have also been known to provide consistent and highly competitive prices for entry level courses such as PDA TESOL.
In addition, acels.ie is an excellent resource for those entering the world of TEFL, as it allows the consumer to shop around in terms of courses, course providers and also potential employers.
Upon completion of a TEFL course, tefl.com offers a one stop search engine which allows graduates to search for jobs around the world.
And if that isn’t enough, eslcafe.com provides a handle on the job situation in Asia for TEFL teachers, along with a series of teaching resources and student guidelines.
So what’s the final verdict?
Although the world of TEFL seems like a myriad of acronyms and red herrings, once conquered, TEFL provides a graduate with a passport to travel worldwide while also earning a competitive wage in a wide range of exotic destinations.
With a number of entry level courses such as TESOL and CELTA available, it is becoming increasingly easier to enter the diverse and complex world of TEFL.
For those graduates unsure of their next career move, or those students unable to bear the thought of another summer spent looking for part-time work in Dublin, TEFL offers ample opportunity to go and explore while also enhancing your career prospects.
Sounds good to me!