This week, I finally finished (and passed) my 150 hour TEFL course. It’s been quite some time since I last ticked anything off my bucket list, so I’m relieved to finally get this one out of the way!
Towards the end of my final year at university in 2011, I started toying with the idea of teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL). I’ve got a number of friends who are doing something similar in countries such as Korea and China, and they seem to love it. English was always one of my favourite subjects in school, and what could be better than combining my love of English and travelling whilst getting paid for it?
However, as I went into full time work almost straight after university, the idea of gaining my TEFL qualifications has always kind of taken a backseat. The more thorough courses I looked at seemed pretty much incompatible with a 9-5 job, so I felt a little bit stuck.
Thankfully in June 2012, I saw and purchased an intense 20 hour TEFL course from Groupon. This took place at Media City in Salford Quays, Manchester (where I happened to meet ex-Manchester United footballer Bryan Robson!), and was a great introduction to the world of TEFL. Shortly after, I purchased a 150 hour online course with Global TEFL from the same site. In essence, I got around £400 worth of qualifications for just under £150; not too bad!
There are, in some quarters, doubts about the efficiency of such courses. A quick Google search will show you that a number of people don’t think an intense course, or an online one is sufficient to qualify someone to teach a class. My opinion on the matter is that I feel both have given me a good understanding about teaching English as a foreign language, and I feel I’ve grasped the basic principles. The training provided by future employers should hopefully see me through.
Modules on topics such as classroom management have taught me quite a lot about the common problems that TEFL teachers are likely to face, and more importantly; how to handle them!
The grammar topic was also quite an eye opener. I class myself as pretty good at English (and I hope from reading my blog you will agree!), but this topic actually taught me a lot more about the complexities and theories behind the English language. I didn’t even know the word “gerund” existed, never mind what it meant!
The criteria for completing the course is pretty straight forward. There are four marked assessments: a grammar test, a detailed lesson plan, a classroom management assignment and a final exam which encompasses pretty much everything you learn on the course. For those wondering, I gained the highest mark possible (just sayin’…)
Completing the course took me quite a lot longer than I imagined, but I put that mostly down to laziness. I bought 365 days access to the course, and only when I got an email telling me it was due to expire in a month did I really begin to focus on it. I often found it hard to motivate myself to sit and read about listening comprehension with a Playstation and an iPad in the same room!
As I mentioned, I hope these two courses will take me closer to a teaching job when the time is right. My next trip is hopefully going to be to Asia, with a view to getting a teaching job at the end of it. I’ve seen a number of jobs in places such as China that say such a certificate isn’t always 100% necessary, which suggests I may even have a head start in some cases. In the worst case scenario, it’s something to put on my CV!
I would probably recommend a course similar to this for people wishing to be a taste of TEFL and learn some basic principles – providing it is on offer. Due to the doubts about how lucrative they are in the eyes of an employer, I wouldn’t shell out the £300 or so that some places seem to charge for an online certificate. I’d keep your eye on sites like Groupon and Wowcher though, as they often crop up on there.