Speaking English is not enough these days to get an ESL teaching job. Gone are the days when you could travel to an exotic location and teach English as a second language just because it’s your mother tongue. No matter where you go whether it’s to a more Westernised country or somewhere further East, the minimum requirements to get an English language teaching job is to have a bachelor’s degree and a TESOL certificate.
If you have the desire to teach ESL, but don’t have the right qualifications, you can always do your TESOL training online. However, there are so many different courses out there these days ‘claiming’ to offer you the TESOL training you need and like in anything there are your more reliable courses and the ones that are not. So how do you know? What should you be looking for in a TESOL course?
Firstly, you need to take a look at the hours. If you’re looking for a basic course that will introduce you to TESOL you should be looking for courses that offer you no less than 100 hours of instruction. There are a few courses that will offer you a weekend of intensive learning; however, it is impossible to learn all the basics of TEFL teaching in a matter of two days.
You should also check whether the course you’re interested in doing has been accredited by bigger TEFL or teaching institutions. Without this accreditation, it’s very unlikely that this course will be recognised both in your home country and further afield. I The organisation that ends up awarding you your TEFL certificate is of the utmost importance – this is what proves its quality and credibility, so you need to do some proper background research.
The TEFL course you choose also needs to be logically divided up into different modules starting with the basics such as the philosophy behind teaching English as a second language. In the beginning you’re most likely going to learn about a number of different study techniques to help you learn. You might see this as a waste of time as by now you’re more than likely have your own method of learning and retaining knowledge, however, as you’ll be instructing English as a second language in the future, you also have to be reminded of what it feels like to be a student.
Others such things you should be aware of when choosing the right TESOL course for you is whether they will give you instruction on the deductive analysis of English grammar and its use. Yes, it is predominantly native English speakers who opt to take TESOL courses, however, we have to remember that just because we speak English as a mother tongue language it doesn’t mean we understand why we use certain grammar constructions for certain things. It’s essential for ESL/EFL teachers to know and understand grammar – after all you’ve got to be able to explain it to ESL learners too. One of the biggest faults in English speaking countries is that young people are no longer taught grammar at school, which is why we often fail to understand our language and why we use specific things as opposed to other constructions. If your student asks you a question about ‘why is it like this?’ related to the grammar, you can’t just answer ‘because it is!’
The same goes for the elements of pronunciation. Obviously, you know how to pronounce words, but have you ever sat down and thought about the rising and falling tones of intonation? You need to know about sentence stress and the phonologic chart, which is why you need to make sure your TESOL course offers this – how else will you know what the schwa sound is?
You should also pay attention whether they have a section that focuses on vocabulary. It shouldn’t just be about how to select and teach vocabulary in ESL, but it should also give some helpful advice on its frequency and lexis formation such as building words from its stems using prefixes and suffixes. Your TESOL course should also give you a few tips on whys to keep your students’ attention and very importantly your TTT (teacher talking time).
Every good TESOL course should also focus on the four skills of a language: reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Your instructors will instruct you on what kind of exercises you can use in class for the different skills and how you can incorporate it all into the lesson while providing your learners with a communicative lesson. You’ll also learn about the wide range of teaching aids that you can use to make your class more interesting such as the use of audio-visual, flashcards, props, and actions.
Another important aspect that all reputable TESOL courses online should offer you is an insightful view into student error and how to deal with them. You’ll learn how to classify student error according to their importance through using a carefully formulated correction code. Additionally, you should look for a course that will also teach you to produce efficient remedial exercises and techniques for dealing with differentiation.
Another big part of any decent TEFL course online or classroom based is learning about classroom management and assessment. In this module your instructors will cover things such as teacher talking time, your use of questions, how to manage interruptions in the classroom, the different learning styles, time management, conducting a needs analysis, and writing efficient lesson places with clear and concise objectives.
A TESOL course, whether you do it online or in a classroom is usually for a period of one month. While you can almost learn anything online these days, there’s still one advantage of doing it in the classroom – you’ll get a certain amount of authentic teaching practice time which is observed and assessed. Those employers, who are clued up on TESOL instruction and further TEFL education, know that any note-worthy TESOL course includes this component, so don’t be surprised if they ask you about your observed teaching hours especially if you’re a new EFL teacher.
There’s an abundance of different TESOL and TEFL courses available for those of you who fancy teaching ESL at home or abroad, which is why you can also afford to shop around and find the right course for you!