What should be considered when selecting a TEFL course?
Reflective Diary submitted by Dominic, Madrid.
An article in the Guardian indicates that to start teaching EFL, an online TEFL course over 100 hours of resources and a minimum of 6 hours of teaching practice should be adequate. The article states the popularity and widespread recognition of Cambridge Celta and Trinity CertTesol are the most appreciated and recognised by potential employers.
My experience in Madrid, including the preliminary research, has taught me that the following factors are worth considering:
Ensuring that the school or training centre is reputable and certified by the University of Cambridge is an effective way of identifying quality. Academies that follow the Cambridge curriculum are supervised by external assessors or moderators and the grading is therefore reliable and impartial.
If one is to study a TEFL course abroad in a city or country where one intends to stay, it is very good for establishing connections and meeting people in the target field who will be looking out for, possibly headhunting, people who attain high results from TEFL schools. However, it is important to research and check that there is local demand for teachers, as some cities are more prevalent than others for language schools but also general levels of education vary. Job-seeking will be harder in countries such as Germany or the Netherlands where educated people have limited need or desire to learn English.
The International TEFL Academy gives a comprehensive guide to picking the optimal language course. Their first tip is to research as many questions as possible. How many hours of the course provide opportunities to learn theory, practice, receive feedback or have training? Are the teachers fully qualified? Check what added value will the school provide, for instance mentoring or job search guidance and assistance upon successful completion of course. Will there be additional costs for those activities and what guarantee is there, if any, that they will use their influence and experience to help you. Within the minutiae of suspiciously cheap courses, are clauses saying that guarantees or course content will expire or become invalid if certain conditions are not met? These are a few basic questions to ask yourself as well as the academy.
Seeing that a school is registered with the International Association of Teachers as a Foreign Language is a positive sign but not a reliable indicator on which one can guarantee that the quality of teaching standards will be high. Selecting a school that is good at networking and has good contacts is vital if you intend to do a classroom course in the country where you want to work because teachers may want to employ you or can provide vital insights about other language schools and provide recommendations.