Choose how you want to earn your certification
There are two options for how you can get certified to teach English abroad.
You can complete your certification course online, which is great if you like to work at your own pace and are planning on getting certified while still working or going to school. You’ll have to be self-motivated for this option, as it’s essentially the same as taking an online class and you’ll have assignments due and tests to take on your own.
The one downside is that you won’t get in-classroom experience but some online courses give you videos of sample lessons being taught by experienced teachers in different parts of the world. This give you the opportunity to observe real lessons. It’s also a good idea to try get some in-class experience on your own by volunteering to teach in your area. perhaps at a YMCA or local school. It’s important to note you don’t necessarily need to complete 20 hours of practical teaching or observation in order to get TEFL certified, but it will make you more desirable when applying for jobs.
If you happen to already have teaching experience, then getting certified online is definitely the easiest and most cost-effective way to do it.
If you prefer to learn in a classroom, you can choose to do so abroad or in a major city back at home. The advantage of getting your certification abroad is that it may help you connect with language schools that could hire you once certified, but it’s also much more costly than doing it while at home, as you’ll have to pay for airfare, accommodation, and more. Both options may offer in-classroom teaching experience.
Find a certification organization
There are many options out there when it comes to certification organizations, so there are a few things to look out for when deciding which to use.
Types of certification
What level of certification and training would you like to get? This will depend on what you plan on using your experience for. For example, some courses offer introductory courses, which are ideal for someone who wants an introduction to English teaching (obviously) or looking to use their experience for volunteer purposes. Or you can go for a more advanced course which will take at least 120 hours to complete but will provide you with the type certification that you’ll need to be considered a qualified TEFL candidate in most destinations.
Post-certification job placement services
Many TEFL companies promise to help with job placement once you’ve completed your course, but you may find that their services are actually quite limited. Before you commit to a program, contact the job placement team and ask them as many questions as you can. Let them know if you have a certain destination in mind and ask who their hiring partners are in that area. Also pick their brains on when peak hiring time is for these partners to see if it coincides with your ideal travel dates.
Does the course cover your specialization?
Remember when you brainstormed what you might want to specialize in? When choosing a course, be sure that it covers your specialization, but if it doesn’t, see if there’s the option to add an extra module on, like a Teaching English to Young Learners (TEYL) specialist certificate.
What level of support does the course offer? Will you be mostly left on your own to submit assignments at the end of each module with a pass/fail grading system, or do you have a trainer assigned to you that will carefully grade each of your assignments and tests and give you feedback on how to improve? When it comes to an online course, that can be invaluable as you’re not sitting with your teachers in a classroom, face-to-face.
Testimonials from past students
Many organizations have testimonial pages but if you ask, you may be able to contact a past student to hear about their experience with the course and finding a job afterwards. Google the program that you’re interested in and see if you can find any students to contact that way (so many English teachers blog these days, so you may find someone that way.) Some organizations will give you the contact info of past students, so you can ask for that, but try to find someone independently as well so you can get an honest answer.
Once you’ve chosen the organization you’ll use to get your certification, be prepared to work hard— English is easy when it’s your first language, however teaching English is another story!