In the past, particularly in the mid to late 20th century, teaching English abroad was often viewed as an informal and temporary opportunity. Young university students, often on gap years or seeking adventure, would embark on journeys to foreign countries where the demand for English teachers was high. Formal qualifications were not a prerequisite, and the process was relatively laid-back.
This era was characterised by a lack of standardised requirements and a focus on the adventurous spirit of the endeavour. However, as globalisation increased, so did the demand for English language proficiency. English became the global lingua franca for business, diplomacy, and international communication. The high demand of teachers required a more professional and structured organisation of the industry.
The introduction and widespread acceptance of TEFL certifications became a significant turning point. Accredited courses started to provide a standardised curriculum covering teaching methodologies, classroom management, and language skills development.
Nowadays, many countries and educational institutions recognise the need for qualified and certified English teachers. Schools and language institutes have been setting higher standards, emphasising the importance of formal qualifications and certifications for English teachers.
Recognition as a Career Path
Advancements in technology also played a role in the evolution of TEFL. Online teaching platforms and digital resources have become integral to language education. TEFL professionals needed to adapt to these technological changes, incorporating them into their teaching methodologies. This shift further emphasised the importance of staying current with evolving educational practices.
Today, TEFL is widely recognized as a legitimate and rewarding career path. Many educators pursue specialised training, such as advanced TEFL certifications or degrees in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages). The demand for qualified and experienced English teachers remains high, and the profession is now seen as a long-term and viable career choice.
Continuous professional development is now an essential aspect of TEFL. Teachers engage in ongoing training to stay abreast of the latest teaching methodologies, technology integration, and language education research. This commitment to professional growth reflects the evolving nature of the field.
Understanding TEFL courses
Accredited TEFL courses cover fundamental areas such as TEFL overview, language teaching methodologies, language skills development, lesson planning, classroom management, assessment and evaluation, cultural sensitivity, technology in the classroom, teaching specialised groups, grammar and language awareness, and professional development.
Assessing course accreditation in the TEFL industry can be challenging due to the lack of a unified international accrediting body. However, some authentic organisations provide accreditation for TEFL certification programs. Scrutinising the course provider’s website, researching the accrediting organisation, and verifying the provider’s listing on the accrediting body’s website are steps to assess legitimacy.
- Online Short Courses (40-60 hours)
Duration: Typically completed within a few weeks.
Overview: Short courses are designed for individuals seeking a basic introduction to TEFL. They are suitable for those looking to teach English online or abroad in a more casual setting.
- Online Standard Courses (120 hours)
Duration: Usually takes around 4-8 weeks to complete, depending on the individual’s pace.
Overview: This is the most common requirement for employers, both for online and traditional classroom settings. The 120-hour TEFL course provides a comprehensive foundation in TEFL methodologies.
- Online Advanced Courses (150-300 hours)
Duration: Can span several weeks to a few months.
Overview: Advanced online courses are for individuals seeking a more in-depth understanding of TEFL. These courses often cover advanced teaching techniques, specialised modules, and may include additional practical components.
- Face-to-Face Intensive Courses (4 weeks)
Duration: Typically a full-time, immersive program lasting four weeks.
Overview: In-person intensive courses combine classroom instruction with practical teaching experience. This format is well-suited for those who prefer an immersive learning experience and wish to gain hands-on teaching practice.
- Face-to-Face Part-Time Courses (8-12 weeks)
Duration: Spread over a more extended period, ranging from 8 to 12 weeks.
Overview: Part-time in-person courses are designed to accommodate working professionals or those with other commitments. They provide a more flexible schedule while still offering the benefits of in-person instruction and practical experience.
- Blended Courses (Combination of Online and In-Person)
Duration: Variable, depending on the structure of the program.
Overview: Hybrid or blended TEFL courses offer a mix of online coursework and in-person teaching practice. The overall duration can vary based on the balance between online and in-person components. This format combines the flexibility of online learning with the valuable hands-on experience of in-person teaching.
The duration of a TEFL course is influenced by the depth of content, the intensity of the program, and whether it includes practical teaching components. Factors such as personal commitments, study pace, and the level of detail covered in the course content can affect how quickly an individual completes a course.
Accredited TEFL Certification: it’s worth it
Having an accredited TEFL certification positively impacts job prospects in the competitive market. Respected language schools and educational institutions worldwide often require instructors to hold an accredited TEFL qualification. Accredited courses showcase commitment to professionalism and excellence, expanding job opportunities both domestically and internationally. Accredited TEFL courses also provide extensive support, guidance, and a commitment to student success.
In choosing a TEFL course, individuals should consider their own preferences, schedule constraints, and the level of expertise they aim to achieve. The variety of course durations and formats cater to the diverse needs and circumstances of aspiring English teachers.
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