Confused by the number of different TEFL / TESOL courses?
If you type 'TESOL Courses' into Google you'll find a vast array of course providers all over the world offering online TEFL, weekend TEFL, 4 week CELTAs, part-time Trinity qualification, 4 week non-CELTAs, university courses (pause for breath) and exciting combinations of the above. If I was looking now, with an outsider's head on, I have to admit that I probably wouldn't know where to start. How would I choose a 'good' course? They all say they are 'accredited' so what does that mean? Is one accreditation better than another?
These questions didn't bother me much when I was looking to get started in TEFL many moons ago. Why? Because it was either CELTA, Trinity, or CELTA or Trinity. It was pretty much your 4 week standard intensive or nothing. There was no way I wanted to wing it around the world without a qualification, trading on my English native speaker status alone. The thought of standing in front of a class, mouth dry, not knowing my prepositions from my prefixes just made my blood run cold. So, a CELTA it was. No worries over accreditation, recognition or acceptance worldwide. Oh, life was so much easier then.
My, how things have changed. When considering a TEFL course. Where do you start? Well, first you might want to read my other blog on Online TESOL vs CELTA. This will give you an idea of the different options available today and which is the best choice for you.
Then, I suggest working backwards to ensure that the course you take will get you where you want to go. If you want to work in the UK and need the security of working for an English language school year-round, then I'd suggest a CELTA. However, there is very much more to the UK than working in a language school as many successful freelancers in the UK TEFL market will tell you. For many others, especially those with a degree and flexibility, an online TEFL course will often suffice. For many, the CELTA vs Online question is purely academic since they can neither afford the money nor time to invest in a CELTA.
Is there an online TESOL accrediting body?
If it's an online course you want, how do you choose a good one and how does your employer know it's a good one? I would like to argue the case for external accreditation.
There's every chance your prospective TEFL employer will not have heard of the school you did your TEFL course with. Even the biggest online schools have little or no international reputation with most TEFL employers. How then does an employer satisfy themselves that your qualification has any merit and that you have the necessary methodology to conduct a class? I suggest the only way is for the provider to be independently inspected and accredited. There should also be an option for the successful trainee to gain certification awarded direct from the accrediting body.
While there are a wealth of online course providers, it was difficult to find a UK-based well-established, independent accrediting body that specialised in online TESOL only. We also wanted our trainees to have the option of a certificate awarded direct by the accrediting body.
After much investigation, ACTDEC (the Accreditation Council for TESOL Distance Education Courses) seemed the perfect solution. ACTDEC set specific TESOL qualifying criteria, course levels and strict codes of conduct. As a non-profit making body, ACTDEC's sole responsibility is to 'maintain professional standards in TESOL distance programmes'.
In the anonymous world of online TESOL provision, is there any better way to ensure quality training?
Well you could visit a comparison site but often they either have
a) an axe to grind or
b) get commission either overtly from sponsoring schools or less obviously through an affiliate marketing site, such as Groupon.
Even blogs and forums have to be treated with a pinch of salt; it's well known that schools often respond to forum questions posing as happy TEFL graduates from xxx school saying 'why don't you try xxx school?'
My advice is to ask yourself 'Is online training for me?' If yes, then choose a provider whose courses have been independently scrutinised by an independent TEFL/TESOL body and has the capability to award a certificate with their seal on to back this up.
Deciding to try and obtain ACTDEC accreditation some years ago was a big decision for us at Global English TESOL courses. Time consuming and expensive, we had to submit our courses, marking papers, marketing and tutor biographies for investigation. We had to justify and in some cases amend our material to ensure it was up to scratch and met the tough qualifying criteria. By the end, we knew we had courses of quality that would prepare our students for the TEFL classroom. The good news for students and employers is, it's not just us that says so.
Find out more about Global English accreditation here.
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Course Director, Global English TESOL courses
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