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How to Choose Your TEFL Certification Program (if at all)

You want to teach English abroad – but how do you snag a job? Most first-time teachers with no experience need to get certified with TEFL or some other internationally-recognized organization before employers will take a look at them. Although it is possible to find work without a certificate, in my opinion it is worth the extra money to avoid finding yourself alone and jobless in a country where you don’t speak the language. Since TEFL is a well-known program, I did the work for you on how and where to get TEFL certified.

There are a couple of options in getting your TEFL degree: online and onsite programs. The online course costs somewhere around $300, is a 40-hour program and can be taken from any location. The easier-access and lower cost of online programs may seem appealing, but I would still recommend on-site programs. You will be more focused when you are surrounded by other students and instructors in an actual classroom. Most on-site courses will provide a hands-on teaching experience and will have 80 more hours of instruction than you get with the online program. Depending on the location, most programs (including housing) cost somewhere between two and three thousand US dollars.

The application process is easy and will most always be online. The only pre-requisites for the applicants is that they have a high school diploma and that they speak fluent English. The application itself is not that intimidating, although it does require two written essays. I recommend applying at least six months prior to when you are planning to leave, since classes fill up quickly. This will also give you a comfortable amount of time to take care of travel arrangements, visa processing, etc.

The instructors that will be teaching you during these courses are professionally trained. They will prepare you with practical teaching approaches to the unique situations teaching a language might entail, as well as how to develop a good lesson plan. You will also have practice doing your own teaching in classrooms. The best part about the instructors is the network they will instantly provide in recommending you to jobs. They will be a great resource for advice and direction – sort of TEFL parents. The other students taking the class with you will be good to bounce off your ideas and frustrations. Honestly who wants to make friends with their keyboard? Taking an on-site course will be way more enjoyable than the online option. And who knows? You might meet your next roommate this way.

If possible I recommend getting certified in the same country that you are planning to teach English. A lot of times your course curriculum will include cultural information and some language training of the particular country. They will also have more contacts in your desired location, than if you were trying to get certified from another country. There will often be a job fare during the course where students can get introduced to potential employers.

Another way to find jobs once you have your TEFL certificate, is by looking online. The website has 11,000+ registered employer postings and last I looked, 3,803 available positions. With certification, I do not think you will have a problem finding a job. The initial cost of the course will pay itself off in the end because you will be much more attractive to employers and land a better-paying job.