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Getting TEFL Certified: What you need to know before committing

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Okay, so you’ve decided you’re ready to get certified. Picking a course is the next step and it’s going to require some thought. Here are your first five steps to committing to the course that is best for you:  

Online or in-person?

Decide if you prefer an on-site or online course. This will be based on your learning environment preferences, finances, or work schedule. An in-person class will typically be more expensive (expect to pay $1,500 - $2,500 for a quality course) and requires time and travel commitments. The plus side is that you’re getting an immersive, collaborative classroom experience. If you’re motivated by face time with an instructor, collaboration with classmates, old-school pen to paper note-taking, then an in-person class is a great option for you.

If you can’t spare the time for an immersive in-person course, go for the online course. You’ll be able to schedule your coursework around existing commitments, and the tuition will typically cost $500 - $1,000 less than an on-site course. Some online courses even have live tutors to instruct you throughout—so you can have the in-person feeling without the in-person price tag.

Check accreditation

Don’t let them fool you! You are in the driver’s seat of your TEFL experience, so make sure you are getting the best one possible. A quality TEFL course should be reviewed and accredited by a scholarly or non-affiliated organization. Make sure the TEFL provider can provide a means for you to confirm the accreditation from the relevant entity.

Verify that the course meets international standards

The TESOL Press has identified 100-120 hours of coursework combined with a minimum of 20 hours of practice teaching as the international standard for TEFL certification classes. If a school requires a certificate, it will recognize these standards and expect applicants to meet them.

Make sure you get in the classroom

Double check that the course has a practicum, i.e. it requires you to spend time in the classroom with English language learners (ELLs). The practice teaching is a crucial part of your development as a teacher and will give you work experience to present to future employers. Furthermore, it’s the very best way to truly experience how teaching works.

Beware discounts and deals

Avoid courses offering coupons or special deals on websites like Groupon. An accredited course with valuable content, personal instruction, and over 100 hours of coursework is going to have a corresponding tuition for the value. Just like university courses that are a few thousand a pop, a quality TEFL course is going to require an investment.

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