TEFL or TESOL or CELTA do I need this

Needing a TEFL or TESOL or CELTA certificate in China is not about the job. Most teachers have nothing, many don’t even have a degree. What really counts in getting a job is the ability to be able to demo and then teach a class. It’s much easier than you think, and after observing classes and getting a basic training most pick up how to lesson plan and teach. At the end of the day the school only cares you can do it, and what you get out of any of these courses is teaching practice. Hands down this is what they care about.

The reality is for 90% of the jobs in China they will never ask for this and never require you to have this. Even if they mention it, just say you have experience and they don’t care. So you don’t need it to teach. These schools need teachers, and they usually don’t care how qualified they are. Many people just buy a book, learn to lesson plan, and do it all for under $20USD. Also a huge complaint from cert course grads is that NO ONE ever asked to see their cert, no schools, no students, and they just filed it away. Be prepared for this in China.

That being said, getting a certificate is good for the teaching experience and getting a basic idea of how this all works. Lesson planning and teaching experience are the keys you will bring from this. Also it’s a great place to meet now friends.

Now you might ask how I know about this? Well I started a TEFL school many years ago in Beijing, ran the school for two years and partnered with one of the biggest names in the TEFL field, unfortunately every day was a shock and disappointment from our partnered school of unprofessional proportions. I know every trick these schools pull and the all the workings. I know what makes them good and what makes them disappointments.

So the major question, should you do this? Which should I do? Let’s break down the three.

TEFL – First most don’t know but this is NOT an organization just an acronym for Teaching English as a Foreign Language. If it’s a TEFL school, it’s more than likely not accredited, has not approval, they just teach you the basics. It can cost anywhere from FREE to $1600USD or more for a month. I would highly not recommend anyone to do a TEFL course because in many cases it’s the worst option. There are many better options if you choose to take a course. They throw new teachers in very often who have one month experience to ‘train’ you. Not worth it. Here is the Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teaching_English_as_a_foreign_language

TESOL – Also very similar to TEFL, but there are more accredited courses. TrinityCert TESOL bearing a very good name and recognized worldwide. But be careful, always check it all out before hand. Many scams do exist. Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TESOL

CELTA – This is the most recognized of the bunch. They are accredited, internationally recognized and seems to be more consistent then the others. Only CELTA schools bear this name, unlike TEFL where any company can throw that name on their door. Wiki http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CELTA

What to look for when choosing any certificate course:

1: Accredited: who is backing this? Trinity? Cambridge? Any University? Do you want a certificate backed by Cambridge or some Mickey Mouse school? It costs the same, go for Cambridge, sounds better to me.

2: Is it recognized back home? What countries is this certificate recognized in? Many of these so called ‘Certificates’ are useless in the UK, USA, Australia, or even many parts of the EU. Check it out.

3: Trainers: Who will be your trainers during the course? Make sure they have 5 to 10 years experience, you are paying a lot to do this.

4: Do they help you find a job? Now this is a loaded question. Helping with a job is great, but what kind of job? Many of these schools place you only with schools that pay them a finders fee, if they don’t pay the school will not tell you about it. But if they pay they expect to pay the new teacher less than normal. So you have to know what they school usually pays.

4: Do I have enough money to do this? It’s an expensive proposition, you will need the $1600 for the course, maybe at least $1000 to $1500 or more for the month of living before you work, maybe another $1500 or much more before you get a job. You will need a flight ticket, $600 to $1000. For example, you might rent an apartment in Beijing. That means 3 months rent and one month deposit, if you live alone a cheap apartment will run you $500USD, or $2000USD. All in all, this might cost you anywhere from $4000 to $8000. Do you want to invest in something that you probably don’t need to get a job?

5: Do you want to meet new people quick? Yeah, you can meet people at a new school, out at night, playing sports and other activities, but a benefit of a course is you meet friends. That can be helpful for some.

6: If you are online looking at a school, try to confirm that is the school you are going to. Many of these websites are there only to bring you in, they collect $500 from you and you are passed off to a local school that has completely different materials from one to the other, so it’s hit and miss. When I ran the school we had a partner doing this. Every month new students would come in and say “Oh, this is the wrong school, I should be at a different school”. Nope, you got the right place. Check them out.

7: Average age of students? I am not sure how old you are, but most of the students are young, and I have seen some older students get isolated. It’s all about if you get a lucky group. But if you are 20 to 24, there will be a lot of others your age in the group. If you are 30 or 40 I would check to ensure a good bonding experience at the course.

Overall going to a course can be a great experience. But there are variables you have to consider. Money, time, experience, friends and so on. If you have a good amount of money to burn, it can be a fun party.