Teach in Asia|December 7, 2010 1:17 am

Breaking Down TEFL Programs

Weaving your way through the maze of TEFL programs is like trying to work your way through a medieval labyrinth. The options seem endless. In this post, I am going to break down your options and simplify your choices.

All TEFL programs fit into one of two categories, those with a classroom component and those without. What’s a classroom component? A  TEFL program with a classroom component, in addition to providing you with information, requires you to teach in a real-world situation in front of your instructor. The instructor then provides feedback, gives tips, and, ultimately, grades your teaching abilities.

The most well-known TEFL program with a classroom component is the CELTA. The CELTA is a 5-week course designed by Cambridge University and administered in institutions throughout the world. While the CELTA is the most popular course offering a classroom component, these days there are many other comparable programs. Options for these courses are generally simple and easy to understand.

Choosing an Online TEFL course is much more difficult. These programs offer a dizzying array of choices but can generally be broken down in two ways, by hours of instruction and by specialization.

In regards to hours of instruction, there are 40-hour courses, 50-hour courses, 60-hour courses, 100-hour courses, 120-hour courses, 140-hour courses, 250-hour courses, and more! These different course options are made largely for budgeting and marketing purposes. A 50-hour course, for example, is not likely to land you a job that a 40-hour course wouldn’t land you as well. That being said, the ESL industry is becoming increasingly competitive, and the more hours of instruction you have, the better the chances that you’ll be the one who grabs the best job. Now let’s have a look at those specializations I mentioned.

There are three main specializations in online TEFL programs, young learners, adults, and business. Which of these you choose, if any, will be determined by whom you wish to teach. Some people don’t have the patience to teach small children; others love it. Some people like teaching businesspeople; others are turned off by the early morning and late night schedules associated with teaching adults. If you really love one category, you might as well get certified in that area; otherwise, just give the specializations a pass.

So, which TEFL program is best for you? Well, that depends on why you want to teach. If you are teaching as part of a working holiday, or if you’re new to the field, then an online course is probably best for you. They are less expensive, more convenient, and they offer good instruction. If you have some experience, though, and have decided to make a career out of teaching, go ahead and invest in an onsite TEFL program that includes a classroom component.

Have you completed a TEFL program? Give us some recommendations in the comments section below!

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