A few years ago I started researching my option as regards doing a TEFL course. I came across countless online courses that promised easy, in-depth training and guaranteed results. And I wouldn’t even need to leave my couch! I am extremely glad I chose the on-site option with TEFL Worldwide Prague and I can now see why an online certificate would be pointless. The thing is that if something is too good to be true – it most likely is. Online TEFL Courses are NOT a good idea and here are the reasons why.
As convenient as it might seem to do a whole teaching course without leaving your house, the biggest downside to that is that you will not gain any practical skills. It is impossible to become a teacher without actually teaching real students in a real classroom! During the on-site TEFL course, we had an opportunity to teach students of different levels. What is more, we practiced teaching groups and individual students. Those 10 hours of hands-on practice were of immense benefit to me. I gained confidence and was able to learn from my mistakes.
People assume that if you just learn how to teach it will be easy to walk into a classroom and do it. But that is false. Standing in front of a group of new people and trying to teach them something is not as easy as it seems. Practice in a safe, comfortable environment is essential to perfecting your knowledge, finding your teaching style, learning how to interact with students and how to adapt to unexpected classroom situations. And those are not a rare occurrence.
Most language schools will ask for a demo lesson at the interview. It is so important to show your potential employer that you know what you are doing and that you are comfortable before a class of people. No employer wants to give the job to someone who never stepped foot in a classroom before, because how can they know that you will be good?
Online TEFL courses can’t possibly provide quality teaching experience, and I can guarantee that people who do them are full of anxiety and panic before entering a real classroom for the first time.
In-person quality feedback.
The benefit of having those 10 hours of practice was the fact that our experienced trainers observed our lessons. It is difficult to see your own mistakes while your mind is focused on trying to be a good teacher. Therefore, having someone to comment on the work I had done, giving constructive criticism, ideas for future lessons and general support was incredibly valuable. After each taught lesson we received oral feedback and notes on the lesson plans and the execution of them. I still have those notes and sometimes refer back to them to make sure I do my job well months after finishing the course.
This face-to-face communication during the course helped me to construct good lessons, taught me how to notice my mistakes and correct them and to focus on what I need to change in my teaching style. Unfortunately, online courses don’t provide a possibility of such evaluation and constructive feedback, because the trainer does not observe your teaching.
Before, during and after the course the TEFL Worldwide Prague staff were incredibly helpful and open to communication. Any question a trainee had was answered and any issue resolved. In-person communication was so helpful, as the TEFL course was a demanding and time-consuming experience. So, having people around who were always ready to help was comforting and took away the stress of learning.
Online TEFL courses might have the staff there to support you, but there will always be a screen and miles between you. Waiting for the answers to your urgent questions and not being able to connect easily can have a huge impact not only on your stress levels but on the quality of learning as well.
If you are looking into getting a TEFL certification, you are entering a completely new field and a new job market. It can be overwhelming trying to find a teaching job without knowing what you are in for. At the on-site TEFL course, the trainees have an opportunity to get advice and tips on finding a job, having a successful interview, writing a CV and a cover letter, and in general made aware of all the different options out there.
While still doing the course, I had access to language school contacts all over the world, as well as online. The staff works hard to keep the database updated and they are always looking for open positions and offers around the world. Besides, the trainers are super helpful as well, as they stay in touch with TEF: alumni and can put you in contact with people teaching all over the globe.
Online TEFL courses might provide you with some contacts, but you will not get the in-depth information you can get in-person and building connections with people in your class and your trainers will be a lot more difficult as well.
All things considered, I can confidently state that choosing a 120-hour on-site course with observed teaching experience was the best choice I have ever made. Even before completing the course I was sure I would be able to find a good job and have a successful interview. I was prepared for all sorts of questions, knew how to communicate with the language schools, what to ask and look for. Giving a demo lesson was a breeze as well, as I had lots of practice writing lesson plans and teaching real students. In interviews, I was often asked what level I taught before and what my teaching approach is with different types of learners. I also had to talk about my strengths and weaknesses, and all I had to do was refer to my feedback from my trainers at TEFL.
The truth is that language schools don’t want to risk their reputation and hire people who have no experience in interacting with students. They want to know the details and the lessons you’ve learned while doing your teaching practice.
On top of all of that, I was confident when starting to teach new classes. Of course, there will always be some nerves when meeting new students, but I was not nervous about my abilities as a teacher and performing in front of a class.
The last important pint I want to make is accreditation. Any valuable teaching certification must be accredited, otherwise, there is no point in getting one. For example, TEFL Worldwide Prague is accredited by IATQUO and a potential employer can contact this organization to confirm the validity of your certificate. Many online TEFL courses do not hold any valuable accreditations and therefore do not have much value. Some are recognized by accrediting bodies, but as you can see from my previous points, the benefits of on-site training as compared to online are obvious. Being careful in choosing a TEFL course is crucial – make sure to check the accreditation bodies that support the course.
My biggest advice is – don’t throw your money away on something that will not guarantee a job or recognition by language schools. And if you are still not sure about where to get your certificate – why not give TEFL Worldwide Prague a go? 🙂
By: Ana Yuziuk