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TEFL certificates are a great base on which to build your TEFL career, but if you're in for the long haul you might want to consider a diploma
There are basically two types of initial TEFL training - taking a weekend certificate course plus optional add-on modules or taking a longer intensive 4-week course. After qualifying and gaining at least one year's (preferably two years') experience, you will have the chance to extend your qualifications by taking a diploma course. There are also online TEFL courses, which you can search for information on in the main menu. Below are some typical details about each type of face-to-face TEFL course to help you understand the comparison more fully.
However, they don't expect you to know everything and will probably be very understanding if you make mistakes initially.
Many schools abroad and some in the UK accept teachers with this type of training. Various agencies, for example Cactus or i-to-i [see below] offer training courses and can find teaching placements abroad for you. Some of these schools will also ask that you have a Bachelor’s degree in any subject, but many will accept teachers who have no additional qualification.
There is no formal exam at the end, but it is still possible to fail this type of course depending on the tutor’s assessment of your capability and suitability. Assuming you pass, you will have a good launch pad from which to start teaching and you will gain experience very quickly in your first job.
Course content includes all the basics on a Trinity or Cambridge Certificate course (see below) but in slightly less detail. All lesson teaching and observation tends to be done with peers rather than with foreign students. In addition, time constraints mean that you will probably finish the course without having taught a whole lesson. All the same, you will have had several opportunities to stand in front of others, gain confidence and present some new language to the class. You are likely to get some practice at organising the class and setting up activities. Many tutees decide to take extra qualifications alongside a practical weekend training course. Companies such as i-to-i offer further certificates in a variety of subjects such as grammar, teaching large classes, teaching with limited materials and so on.
Is it worth it? Yes - many people gain enough insight into the teaching process to lead happy and successful lives as TEFL teachers, especially abroad, following this type of course.
A number of schools abroad and every British Council-accredited school in the UK require one of these certificates in order to take on contracted staff. As above, some of these schools will also ask that you have a Bachelor’s degree in any subject, but many will accept teachers who have no additional qualification.
The courses feature assessed teaching practices and a short written examination at the end. Whilst it is still possible to pass this type of course if you fail one or two teaching practice assessments, you will still have to satisfy an external moderator or examiner of your suitability to teach at the end of the course. As in the weekend course, the majority of trainees pass, and one reason for this is that they have to pass a suitability interview before being accepted onto the course in the first place.
A language school will have very similar expectations for people who had either type of training. Schools realise that this type of training will be enhanced by the actual practice of teaching classes on a regular basis. They are very likely to offer a good level of support to the novice teacher. The price and length of time it takes is considerably higher than weekend courses, but you will have the opportunity to teach real language students as part of the training and you will be expected to complete a total of 6 hours of teaching practice prior to qualification.
In the UK and abroad, schools with British Council accreditation are required to have a certain proportion of Diploma-qualified teachers on their permanent staff. You may like to follow the link below to learn more about this process.
Passing at Diploma level isn't straightforward, so the failure rate is far higher than at certificate level, but many teachers do manage to pass first time around! There are assessed and observed lessons to be taught, plus assignments and written examinations to do. Some teachers choose to do their Diploma part-time or by distance, alongside a regular teaching job. This is a very helpful way of charting your progress, as you are working with your normal classes as part of the process. It may take the best part of a year to become qualified in this way or you could search for an intensive 10-week course and do it full-time. A typical language school obviously has much greater expectations of a Diploma-qualified teacher.
A lesson attaining diploma level should feature the following attributes:
Is it worth doing a Diploma? If you are serious about teaching longer term and want a greater chance of promotion or job security, then the answer is a resounding "yes". Doing a Diploma is hard work, but very interesting. It will help the experienced teacher to shake off any unhelpful habits they may have acquired since initial TEFL training and will bring new confidence and assurance to their teaching style.
All of these courses are designed to ensure that the TEFL teacher is equipped to pass on knowledge in an interesting and informative way to their learners. Each course requires time, money and commitment in order to pass with flying colours. Each course will ensure that the teacher is able to evaluate their own performance and think how future lessons might be improved upon. If you are just dipping your toes in to test the water, go for the Weekend Course. If you are certain teaching is for you and that you definitely want to work at a private language school in the UK, go for a CELTA or Trinity Certificate in TESOL. If you have a teaching qualification already and over 2 years teaching experience behind you, then why not take the next step and consider doing a Diploma? Getting appropriate training is empowering for the teacher and an incredibly rewarding and interesting experience in itself.