Choosing the right TEFL training school
TEFL training schools give English speakers who have a sense of adventure, the will to see the world and an interest in people and teaching an opportunity to lifetime certified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language. However, not all schools are of the same quality. It’s important that the first thing people hoping to embark on a TEFL course should look into is if the training centre is accredited, and if so, who by.
How my story started
When I first did my own TEFL course in 2002 in Brighton, UK, I chose to do my course with EF English First (later to become EF Education First). The training course was a full four-week, in-house TEFL training course, with many hours of real observed teaching practice. The course mirrored the units found on the TESOL course (which was three times more expensive). Upon finishing the course, the school in Brighton set me up with a job at EF English First in Xi’an, China. This was all free!
I found I wasn't British Council Accredited
After three years of working at EF English First Xi’an, by which time, I had thousands of hours of classroom experience and had been promoted twice to be Director of Studies, I applied for a summer camp job with EF for the summer in my hometown of Brighton, only to be told that I was ineligible for the job because my qualification wasn’t accredited by the British Council. Here I was, with all of this experience and skills, unable to get a job with the same company in the UK that I was working within China because the course I did wasn’t accepted by the British Council. This should definitely serve as a very real warning to those doing courses; check the TEFL school’s accreditation and what this accreditation offers. Is the accreditation valid overseas where you may be applying to teach? (As a side note, EF may well be running courses again and, if offering teaching courses, are probably accredited these days, still check).
Do some leg work
If the TEFL training school you’re thinking about is in, or near to your home, then spend a day visiting two or three centres to look around. Take the opportunity to meet the TEFL trainers at the school. How long were they teaching for? What are their own qualifications? Ideally, TEFL trainers within TEFL schools should be Delta qualified or have an MA in TESOL. Importantly, are they nice and do you get a nice vibe from them? These are things which a visit to the school will sort out.
Check TEFL Schools' Websites and online reviews
Whilst visiting the TEFL school, take the chance to speak to other trainees about their experience at the school. What do they think about the training and the facilities there? If doing an in-house TEFL course, then you’ll be spending a lot of time at the school either in training or doing your assignments and TEFL portfolio. Are there quiet areas to sit and work? How are the toilets and refreshments there? How does one TEFL training school shape up against another just down the road? Also, use the internet to your advantage. Most established training schools will have a website and online reviews. Spend some time weighing up one training school against another before making an informed choice about where to become TEFL certified. TEFL courses are expensive, choose wisely.
Value for money in TEFL Training Schools
This brings to me my final point about in-house TEFL courses. You’ve chosen to go with in-house training rather than cheaper online courses for a reason. You want the better training and in-depth preparation you’ll receive from an in-house TEFL course, which is far more expensive as you know. However, I’m sure you’re not made of money and you’ll want to spend your hard-earned cash prudently. Don’t automatically discount the most expensive course provider in your city; they may stand head and shoulders above the rest. However, after you’ve visited the schools and done your online research and found that they are all good, but one is £300 cheaper, then go with that course and save yourself a few quid. Put it to one side for helping you move to your new country of choice and seeing what the new chapter of your world has to offer!
by Stuart Allen