A TEFL certification is a key requirement for employers of English teachers globally, with most now demanding a minimum of a 120-hour certificate. You can attain this certification through two primary avenues: in-class and online TEFL courses.
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As the name suggests, these courses require you to attend sessions at a location where English is taught as a foreign language, usually for about four weeks. Given the accommodation necessity, these courses tend to be pricier, but they usually incorporate a teaching practice segment that significantly aids real-world teaching preparation.
Also read: Which country is best for a TEFL course?
These courses offer flexibility, as they don't demand physical presence at any specific site and can be completed at your own pace from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. This convenience generally makes online courses more affordable than in-person ones. However, they usually don't include a teaching practice component.
Also read: How do online TEFL courses work?
Both the in-person and online versions of the 120-hour TEFL certificate have the same general entry requirements. Anyone over 18 with a proficient understanding and use of the English language can enroll. This means both native and non-native English speakers can access these courses.
TEFL courses can greatly differ based on the institution providing the training. However, to gain the foundational skills needed to teach effectively, your course should cover certain fundamental aspects.
Essential teaching skills that should be covered include:
- Teaching methodologies: What strategies and techniques have proven effective over time for teaching different groups, like adults and children?
- Lesson planning and material preparation: After identifying a teaching method, teachers should be able to devise a lesson plan, complete with the necessary teaching materials.
- Classroom management: Mastery of classroom organization and control skills are crucial to create and maintain a learning-friendly atmosphere.
- Evaluation and testing: Every course requires some form of student evaluation and testing. What are the best methods to execute this?
Apart from teaching skills, language awareness is key for English teachers to effectively teach their students. Being a native English speaker doesn't qualify you to teach language rules. Any training course should prioritize this instruction.
Commonly covered topics in any language awareness course include parts of speech, the English tense system, and various grammatical elements such as modals, reported and direct speech, among others.
It is crucial to note that mainstream TEFL teaching usually spans five student levels: Starter, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate, and Upper-Intermediate. As a teacher, you will likely need to teach across all these levels, so familiarity with the typical syllabus for each level is important.
Finally, it is widely accepted that a 120-hour TEFL course is a stepping stone into the TEFL teaching world, with further skill and knowledge development happening through hands-on experience in actual classrooms.
Also read: Should I take a TEFL course bundle?