Posts Tagged ‘TEFL certification’

Getting accredited to teach English abroad, ctd.

Friday, April 3rd, 2009

Commenting on my original post about the merits of pursuing TEFL certification in order to teach English abroad, reader Debbie passes along some very useful tips:

I spent a year teaching English in Prague (after getting my TEFL certification there), and have just a few more pieces of advice: has a lot of information about teaching abroad and lists hundreds of programs. It can be a bit overwhelming, but if you poke around for a bit, you can find really useful info. Also, if you have an idea of the country/countries you’d like to teach in, you can search by country or city.

-Through Dave’s ESL Cafe or just by searching around the blogosphere, try to find someone who is already teaching English in a country or region you’re interested in. Getting info straight up from someone who’s there is key. Helped me immensely. If you find a school or program you like, email them and ask if you can contact some of their alumni to get more unbiased info.

-If you don’t have connections in your desired city/country, it may be worth it to search for a program that promises/offers/aims to help you find a job. Very helpful!

-”…not to mention that it actually trains you to be an English teacher, which is not as easy as it sounds”––I couldn’t agree more! The TEFL course is rather intense; not only are you expected to pick up skills like classroom management, error correction, time management and lesson-planning in four short weeks but you’re also overloaded with the basics and complexities of English grammar––which is a lot harder than it sounds! My university educated classmates and I couldn’t have labeled an auxiliary verb or diagrammed a sentence in the present perfect tense before the course, and it took many months of teaching to actually feel comfortable explaining grammar.

Of course, teaching English isn’t all grammar and technicalities. But the ‘easier’ stuff (vocabulary, slang, pronunciation etc) comes more naturally. If you’re serious about teaching English, I’d highly recommend it. TEFL etc. is intense, but definitely worth the time and money.

Thanks so much for the useful information, Debbie. Labeling an auxiliary verb or diagramming a sentence in the present perfect tense was definitely something I couldn’t do while teaching English in northeast China (and still can’t do, for that matter). My Chinese colleagues would often ask me grammar-related questions and I always had a near-impossible time answering them—the English as a second language speakers always knew far more about grammar than me (I took to prefacing all my grammar-related answers with, “Well, this is what we would say…”). In hindsight, some preparation in this regard would have been really useful.

And even more than that, some preparation in the matter of, as you put it, “classroom management” would have been a godsend. I got plopped into my classroom with nothing but a classlist, a Side by Side and an encouraging pat on the shoulder. Learning how to be a teacher on the fly (in a completely foreign culture to boot) was formative in a “whatever doesn’t kill you” kind of way, though I would have saved myself mountains of frustration and been a far more effective teacher much earlier on had I been properly trained.