I completed my TEFL certification (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) just over one year ago, so I’ve had plenty of time to use it (I haven’t really). I managed to pass my TEFL certificate tests and assignments fairly easily. However, there’s a lot I could have done differently to make the process much smoother. Hence why I’m sharing my advice and TEFL course tips to help anyone who is thinking about studying for a TEFL certification.
Getting a TEFL certificate is a fantastic idea if you want to teach English as a foreign/second language abroad or online. If you’re going travelling for an extended period of time and think you might like to get a job on the road, teaching English is perfect! Sometimes you can get away with a University degree and a bit of self-confidence, but the qualifications and teaching experience you need depend wildly from job-to-job. And just because you speak English, doesn’t mean you automatically know how to teach it. Believe me, it’s a lot harder than it looks! And a TEFL certification will guarantee you’re at the top of the job application pile.
TEFL Course Tips for TEFL.Org’s 140 Hour Combined Premier TEFL Course
My TEFL course tips are relevant to the course I chose, the 140 Hour Combined Premier TEFL course from TEFL.Org. I’m so happy with my choice of TEFL course and I’d encourage anyone from the UK to take the exact same TEFL course as they are a UK-based company.
A lot of TEFL positions will advertise a minimum number of TEFL course hours, so it’s in your best interest to choose a course with as many hours as you can afford. A lot of TEFL jobs will require a minimum of 50 or 80 hours, but some are 120 hours so I wouldn’t choose a course with less than 120 hours!
The 140 Hour Combined Premier TEFL course includes 20 hours in a classroom, 30 hours on grammar, 50 hours TEFL and 20 hours on video case studies. The extra 20 hours are for teaching large classes and telephone classes which I think are super helpful modules. If you want to teach English online in the future, these modules will really help you.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me about this course, please get in touch. I’d be happy to give any specific TEFL course tips on the certification I actually achieved!
My 8 Top TEFL Course Tips
1. Choose a TEFL course with Classroom experience
There’s nothing like being able to learn from an actual human person who has years of TEFL experience and be able to talk to them and ask them questions. My TEFL course had 20 hours in a classroom over one weekend (12 hours on Saturday, eight on Sunday) which was intensive but a lot of fun and so interesting and helpful. You could choose the teaching venue closest to you which was lucky for me because I lived in Manchester at the time and the venue was near the University. But there are tonnes of other venues around the UK.
It was so nice meeting other wannabe TEFL teachers and discover their reasons for wanting to teach abroad. They were all such different people! And surprisingly, not all the students were native English speakers. Being a native speaker of English is very often a pre-requisite for teaching English positions. The class tutor was also so cool and she had fascinating stories from teaching English in three different continents (South America, Asia and Europe) and literally had a personal anecdote for every situation or question we came up with.
If you take anything from my TEFL course tips, it’s this! Choose a TEFL course with a classroom component!
2. Book the Classroom part straight away – but leave yourself time to complete the Grammar module
Definitely book the classroom part ASAP as places do fill up fast. Time the classroom course so that you’ll have already finished your 30-hour grammar module but before you start the rest of the course.
Why? Because the classroom part will give you a fantastic refresher of everything you learnt in the grammar module. And it will give you heaps of information/knowledge to guide you through the rest of the TEFL course. I booked the classroom module before I even started the rest of the course. I was so pleased I booked it at the beginning as I felt confident about starting the rest of the TEFL course. But, I did feel pretty silly that I couldn’t answer the simplest of grammar questions.
3. Take the module tests and complete the assignments as and when they appear
I know, burying your head in the sand is a much more attractive option than doing the hard work, isn’t it?
As you work your way through the TEFL course, do the tests and assignments as and when they appear. Honestly, it feels so good to get them out of the way and you’re just creating more work for yourself if you leave them until the end of the course.
I took (and passed) the multiple choice tests when they appeared naturally in the course, but could not be bothered doing the assignments AT ALL. They seemed difficult and I had no idea where to begin. But it was such a mistake because I essentially had to re-read all the modules as there were naturally some bits I’d forgotten. And I kept getting confused from modules further on in the course which I shouldn’t have learnt yet! Argh!
Remember, the internet is your friend. There are more TEFL teaching resources online than you can shake a stick at. And you can re-do the tests and assignments as many times as you need. So, just give them a go! And please don’t worry about getting 100% on everything, it’s really not worth the hassle. You only need 75% to pass and your marks aren’t written on your certificate, sooo… Who will know apart from you? Who will even care?
Done is better than perfect.
4. Save all the documents and pdfs – you don’t have access to this TEFL course forever!
This is one of my hot TEFL course tips because it’s key insider knowledge. When you’re going through the course, there will be links to pdfs/attachments which have all manner of useful TEFL resources. I’m talking grammar cheat sheets, games, activities, things like that. SAVE THEM. You don’t have access to the course forever, and you don’t know what TEFL.Org will revoke access to in the future.
Keep a file on your computer called ‘TEFL resources’ and keep them all there. This also goes for your TEFL reference letter (so handy) and scan in your TEFL certificate as soon as you receive it in the post so you have a digital copy on hand.
5. Don’t leave most of the course until the last minute, but don’t worry about extending either
You have six months to finish most online TEFL courses which, now that I think about it, isn’t very long. Life gets in the way and before you know it you’ve run out of time with only 40 hours completed and you still have to book your classroom course.
Try not to leave it until the last minute. 140 hours (minus the 20 hours in a classroom) is 20 hours per month. Try to get the grammar module (30 hours) done in one month because there are no assignments and you should be able to blast through it quite quickly. You then have three months to finish the main TEFL module (50 hours), and you should probably book your classroom course during this time.
Then one month for the 20-hour video module and one month for the 10-hour large classes module and the 10-hour telephone classes module. Boom! You’re done.
Planning your six months like this will help you stay on top of your time. However, there’s no shame in extending if you can afford to (time and moneywise). It’s not like a big read ‘EXTENDED’ sticker is slapped across your final certificate.
6. Keep on top of your grammar knowledge after you’ve finished the course
As native English speakers, we don’t need to give the grammar we’re using a second thought. Appropriate sentence structure comes naturally to us and sometimes we don’t know ‘why’ a sentence makes sense, it just does.
However, it’s important to know the tenses and different components sentence structure off by heart if you’re going to teach English as a foreign language. You can’t stop a class to consult a textbook, you can’t quickly google it.
And it’s so easy to keep on top of. Make flashcards of all the different components of grammar, and as you’re reading a magazine or book try and identify all of the components (verb, noun, preposition, etc.) and tense of some sentences. Use your flashcards to check yourself. If you keep up with this habit then you’ll be a grammar expert in no time and it will help you feel more confident in front of your students.
7. Look at the TEFL.Org Jobs Centre, it’s really useful
One of the best reasons to buy a TEFL.Org TEFL course is because you have access to their jobs centre for life! And it’s a bloody good jobcentre in my opinion. Sure, there are others but this one is directed towards UK citizens. A lot of the TEFL/TESL jobs boards seem to mainly address American English language teachers. It’s a bit confusing as UK citizens will have different VISA requirements than Americans so you are never sure if the company even wants to hire you.
However, the TEFL.Org jobs centre is specifically geared towards people that have taken one of their TEFL courses in the UK. Granted, the jobs board doesn’t have tonnes of jobs, but it still advertises a fair few. And they all seem to be of a high calibre and the companies are checked out. This is fantastic as an unfortunate few teaching English positions are scams.
They advertise short and long term positions, English language Assistants as well as English language teachers, Conversation Assistants, Summer Camp leaders, tutors and online English language teachers. So many different types of positions are available!
8. Buy your TEFL course when it’s on sale!
And finally, the last of my TEFL course tips is to wait until the courses are on sale. My goodness, does TEFL.Org have a lot of sales. I bought my course when it was £100 off during a Black Friday sale, but they seem to have sales all the time.
Right now, as I type, all courses are 40% off. FORTY FREAKIN’ PERCENT. TEFL.Org have sales on Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, New Year, January, Easter, summer, jeez. If there’s an occasion, they have a sale! Not that I’m complaining. I would never, ever complain about too many sales. Only rejoice.
Nothing like a bit more incentive to learn a new skill, move abroad and earn decent money, ey?
And those are my top TEFL course tips! Would you add any more TEFL course tips? Have you ever thought about teaching English as a foreign language or complete a TEFL certification? Let me know in the comments below!