Working in the field of ESL (English as a Second Language), I have made some of the most memorable experiences in my life. It’s hard to put into words the rewarding feeling when a student remembers a new word or when you get a love letter with an adorable drawing on it. Yes, teaching English abroad is one of the most amazing careers to follow but the journey towards your dream job can be hard. It’s especially hard to choose the right TEFL/TESOL course that gets you that dream job. I have taken several TEFL/TESOL certification courses and can tell you exactly what to look for.

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Here’s how you can choose the right TEFL/TESOL course:

How To Choose The Right TEFL TESOL course


Do I need a TEFL/TESOL certification?

This is probably the first question you might as yourself – and the first question I asked myself. The answer depends on where you want to work and what kind of lifestyle you want to lead during your time abroad. For me, it was clear I was going to move to live in South Korea where competition for ESL teaching jobs is fierce. I needed something to set me apart from the other candidates, something that showed potential employers that I am serious about teaching and am not just looking for a ‘fun experience abroad’. The Korean ESL program called EPIK (English Program in Korea) that hires teacher for the public school system only hires TEFL/TESOL certified candidates, for instance.

What I also quickly realized were the higher paying positions with better benefit packages and more appealing working hours were only available to those with TEFL or TESOL certification. This was when I knew I absolutely had to get this type of certification to be able to make it in this industry.

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exploring Korean national parks

Online Vs. In-Class

The first question you need to ask yourself is whether an online certification will suffice or you need, or simply prefer, to possess any practical teaching hours. For me, I had already been teaching in China for a few months and did not need any additional teaching practice to be able to work in South Korea. Therefore, I decided it was much easier to take on an online course. At first, I was unsure as to how they actually work and how effective, or simply ‘legit’, they really were. After hours and hours of research, I found a reputable TEFL/TESOL course provider offering a wide variety of different courses, both online and offline, with great reviews. I started comparing the different course options and came to the following conclusion:

ONLINE COURSE

  • great flexibility
  • study at my own pace
  • study from laptop, tablet or smartphone
  • cheaper course fee

IN-CLASS COURSE

  • Group training
  • Observed teaching practice
  • Feedback from teacher trainers
  • Worldwide training centers

After speaking with their friendly customer service team about the pros and cons of each option, I decided to take their 120-hour online certification course. I chose it because I could work my full-time teaching job in China while preparing for Korea. How the online course works is you have access to a study panel with all 20 Units available to you to view online or to download. Then, you work through each unit and complete a short multiple choice assessment to check your understanding of the unit content. You do this until the final unit, which is your ‘lesson planning’ project. You are given a situation and have to prepare your lesson plan accordingly. This plan will be evaluated by an ITTT teacher trainer and then you will be given your certification.

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Specialized Courses To Enhance Opportunities

When signing up for the 120-hour online course with tutor support (they have a no-tutor version also), course participants automatically receive a free 50-hour specialized course of their choice. ITTT, the TEFL/TESOL provider I used, offers either a certificate in teaching English to young learners or in Business English. I opted for the CTEYL (Certificate in Teaching English to Young Learners) as I was looking for a kindergarten/elementary position in Korea. However, I also did the Business English course because I majored in International Business and could certainly see myself holding English classes to business executives in the future. The 50-hour courses work quite similar to the 120-hour option and I had no problems finishing the course quickly.


Applying for Jobs

After I finished my course, I took advantage of the post-course support offered by ITTT. It includes finding suitable job positions, resume/CV writing, interview preparation and access to an extensive lesson planning and teaching material library. I was quickly sent several job offers and had several job interviews. In the end, I got hired by a renowned Korean private language school in the city I wanted to work in. Still today, I make use of the resources and materials offered in the ITTT library. On top of that, I still have access to the support services as long as I work in the ESL field.


The Right Course For You

As you can see, I did a lot of research about my options. Most importantly, I looked at the needs and requirements for my desired location and type of school. I knew I wanted to work in Korea and opted for the 120-hour course. I knew I wanted to work with children and, therefore, chose the young learners specialized certification. And lastly, I received a better paying job at a renowned Korean school in the city I wanted to live in. That’s why you need to think backwards: Where do you want to be? What school do you want to work for? What are the requirements for this kind of position? Which TEFL/TESOL course suits your needs best? And then, drum roll, the result is your most suitable TEFL/TESOL qualification course.

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  • Kate AndKris

    Good advice. For Korea online courses are fully accepted so it sounds like you made the right choice. In other countries, online certificates are less widely accepted so other choices may be better for people. We also teach English abroad and have done for ten years now. We’re compiling a list of useful blogs for people thinking of teaching abroad and have included yours.