Do TESL Courses really work?

For general discussion between ESL teachers.

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Do TESL Courses really work?

Unread post by christa » Sat Aug 05, 2006 4:26 am

My name is Christa and im 27 years old.The reason i ask is that The course is a lot of money and i dont want to pay if its not worth it.The course im thinking of taking is The Oxford Seminars TEFL program,if anyones taken it and can tell me if it really adequetly prepares you to teach abroad?
How do you teach students that dont speak your language?That question has been going through my head recently.And what are the chances of actually getting a good job?I have a college dipolma not a University degree and no teaching experience at all.
Can someone help me here?

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Re: Do TESL Courses really work?

Unread post by GiddyGad » Sat Aug 05, 2006 11:32 am

christa wrote:...and can tell me if it really adequetly prepares you to teach abroad?

I don't think any courses can prepare anyone to teach (abroad or at home) - courses are good when you've got the experience to make them a practical proposition. Nevertheless, courses open doors. The certificate, more that if you are a native speaker, allows you to compete successfully with those who don't have it, even if they are experienced teachers with a university degree. On the Internet, I have seen many a post by those with a university degree yet seeking
to attend TEFL courses... As to how ethical it is... There' a message posted by a German student on this forum around a year ago and now deleted that I want you to read:

[Recently] I have attended several courses and met different teachers. Sadly most of them could do anything from planning or building a house, selling things in a supermarket, washing cars, etc. but teach English professionally. Most of them were neither qualified in teaching nor did they have knowledge of their own language required when willing to teach. Virtually all questions were answered like – Well, it is absolutely incorrect, but don’t ask me why. That’s the way it is…It made me think that some of the ‘better schools’ hire losers, I mean those who are unable to find any job and think they can teach since they are native speakers.;-( I hope I have not offended anybody here … I think being a teacher is more than just being a native speaker. Cheers.

christa wrote: ...How do you teach students that dont speak your language?..

You just get yourself involved and push your way through. The rest depends on the wit and/or the nerve you've got. Experience is never negative.

Good luck,


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TEFL course

Unread post by eric_p_m » Sat Aug 19, 2006 8:57 pm

Dear Christa,

As you are probably well aware of there are a multitude of schools, including universities, and English training centers abroad which just require you to be a native speaker in order to teach non-native speakers. I would urge you to speak to a current student or graduate of the TEFL course you wish to attend to get a better idea about this specific program. Use your best judgement as far as the professionalism encountered there goes and if it is worth what they would be charging you: check out their web site and if you can't find one, that would be a clue to heed.

I believe that a good program would require you to already be proficient in a foreign language, instruct and advise about teaching methodologies, learning strategies, educational pyschology, cross-cultural communication and culture shock, and curriculum preparation in addition to providing supervised opportunities for student teaching, hopefully with a target audience reflecting the country or region you would be teaching in.

As far as how to teach non-native speakers, keep in mind that all educators should keep in mind the concept of (n + 1), where the variable represents your students' proficiency level: teach one step above what your audience is capable of handling. That gives them room to grow. My advice to you is that you never use the students' native language in or out of the classroom while around them as this does not promote communication in the target language.

After you acquire work experience, you should expect your salary to rise. As GiddyGad pointed out, with more teaching experience both in and out of the physical classroom, you will be able to implement pragmatic applications of the theoretical knowledge you have learned during your training: proper preparation is worth its weight in gold. Realistically, I have seen non-native speakers with a high profiency level in the target language and proper training be selected against native speakers who did not have educational training. Nevertheless, I have unfortunately also witnessed employers abroad that wield racial discrimination and would never hire a non-native speaker or someone whose skin color or appearance was not marketable.

My experience has also taught me that the cultural expectations for teaching methodologies and just how a class should operate differ depending on which region you find yourself in. My advice would be to use the target language's culture so that you could prepare your students to successfully study or work in a location where the target language was the medium of communication: I teach two languages and I use different methods depending on which language I am teaching to be able to provide a more authentic experience for my students.


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Unread post by Shelley » Thu Aug 31, 2006 6:00 pm

I believe a TEFL certificate is invaluable and will certainly help getting a job, not to mention what you will learn that will make you a better teacher.

Also TEFL is recognised the world.

Even someone with a PGCE (post-grad qualification to become a teacher) would benefit from a TEFL because you learn the specifics of teaching English.
You also learn how to handle multi-national classes where you cannot explain anything in the mother tongue, but have to use diagrams and actions to get your message or concept across. For example, learning how to explain verbs using time lines is very useful.

The chances are you'll learn some things about the English language you were only subconsciously aware of, and you look at the language with a view to teaching it, not just knowing it as your native tongue.

So all in all, well worth getting the qualification!

Kind regards,
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