The Benefits Of Getting A TEFL Certificate
A TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) or a TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) certification allows you to teach English to nonnative speakers. It was not until I returned from my study abroad trip to Japan that I decided that becoming certified to teach English would be a great opportunity. While the differences between TEFL and TESOL are minimal, I decided to pursue getting a TEFL certification through my university.
There are plenty of ways to get your certification. I sat down and spoke with an advisor at my university, a long time TEFL teacher veteran, and he told me that there are plenty of online course programs that will certify you in the field. Some cost about the same as it would at a university, and some much more. He mentioned that the best way to get your certification would be through a university.
At my university, I had to add a certification program to my degree and take three extra classes. If you can, take in-person classes so you can get experience with teaching, instead of taking online classes. That way, employers know you have some experience in a classroom. Your school might also offer English classes to native speakers, in which case, you can volunteer to assist students to gain experience (if it’s not already required for your course, to gain some experience).
There can be controversy about people who abuse their TEFL certification solely to get overseas, just to become terrible English teachers who hate teaching. This doesn’t only disadvantage their students, but also it can give English teachers from that country a bad reputation.
Getting your TEFL certification does give you a great opportunity to live abroad, but that shouldn’t be your only motivation to become an English teacher. There is great satisfaction in teaching others something as valuable as the English language. Let’s face it: English has become a dominate language in business, pop culture and in international relations. Teaching your students, whether they are middle-aged business-people or school children, is an instantly satisfying way to help others better themselves.
There are so many opportunities to teach both at home and abroad. Those with interest in Japan might have heard of the reputable JET Program established by the Japanese government. Many programs like the JET program send qualified applicants anywhere in the designated country with preplanned housing. There are other program options in countries like Spain and Brazil. Your university might even offer a study abroad program that allows you to gain experience in an international classroom before you go do the real thing!
To some, all of this may sound too good to be true.
“I only need to take a few classes to live abroad and all I have to do is just teach English?!”
Let’s take a step back and look at the fine print of what being an TEFL teacher entails. One major requirement that these programs have is that you must have a four-year degree. Any degree will do, but having a degree in education or English could really be used towards your advantage. Programs that send you overseas also require you to be a native English speaker, but if you can prove to have next-to-native fluency, then you will be considered. If you apply to an agency that does not have a specific location that they employ English teachers to, then you could possibly end up in a much rural part of that country. You do not always have much control of your teaching environment. Remember, teaching English is not a walk in the park. Just because you can speak it does not mean you can properly explain it to a classroom of rambunctious 1st graders. Before you jet off to research job opportunities, be careful of scam companies looking for wide-eyed foreigners to take advantage of. Evil, I know!
Whether you are overseas teaching students in a rural village their ABC’s or showing new immigrants in your home country how to communicate in a grocery store, getting your English teaching certificate has its benefits. By certifying yourself as a TEFL/TESOL instructor, you are giving yourself the opportunity to gain experience working in another country and giving your future students better opportunities through the English language.