Is an Online TEFL Course Good Enough?

An Online TEFL Course IS good enough!

I read a lot on the internet that online TEFL training is not perfect and not as good as the stereotypical CELTA or Trinity certifications.

Well . . . by definition an online course is uh . . . well . . . online.  But even the famed CELTA these days is online too.  They do an observed teaching practice face-to-face, but so do most online courses.   It is offered as an option almost everywhere.

So what is the fuss about?

To some degree most people are promoting the specific course they took.  If you took a CELTA, you would be likely to say that only a CELTA is “good enough”.  It is nice that you had the US$1800-2800+ the course can cost and had a month off without pay to take it, but not everyone has that option.

Why Online Courses are Just Fine

Because most countries don’t even require any TEFL training at all.  And most that do, are just fine with online training.  Of the four largest EFL job markets: China, Korea, Thailand and Japan; Japan does not require a certificate. China does and will accept online certificates. Korea will accept online certificates [in 2013 some government programs may require teaching practice as part of the TEFL training and most online courses offer that as well]. Thailand will accept online also if it includes teaching practices. Most online courses offer some sort of teaching practice, just ask if you are not sure.

So then . . . what’s the problem?

Some of the issue is with Americans (I am one, so shuss!).  In the States most any kind of “distance” learning is looked down upon.  Partly because we just aren’t so familiar with it.

The United Kingdom (UK – England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for those who aren’t sure) pioneered distance training during the days of their empire.  They had officers, armies and companies all over the world and needed to provide quality training to them.  Families of their employees/representatives needed education too.  So – distance education was born.

What’s GOOD about Distance or Online Education?

What’s good is that you can get the basics about how to teach English without spending a fortune, without taking four to six weeks off work with no pay, and you can still get a good decent idea about how to give your students the knowledge that they paid good money for.

That’s right.  Your Students Pay Money to be in  your Classroom.

Don’t you want to be able to deliver what they have paid for?  No one wants to pay their money to sit in your class if you have no idea about how to effectively teach them English.  No one!  So – if you can’t afford the Full Monty from CELTA, SIT or others . . . get a good online training course so  you have some idea about how to start and how to deliver what your students want.

TEFL is not Rocket Science

Do you need Cambridge, Oxford or Harvard or . . . other training?  No, not really. But you do need the basics of how to go about doing what you are getting paid for.  You don’t want to feel like you are cheating your students.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Online TEFL Training is fine for about 90% of the world’s EFL jobs.  Will it meet the requirements everywhere?  No.  But then again I have a masters degree in education, PGCE in TEFL and about 20 years experience overseas and even I don’t qualify for 100% of the jobs out here.

TED’s Tips™ #2: Do the right thing – get some training so you can deliver what you students have paid for.

TED’s Tips™ #3: Last, but certainly not least, online and distance education is the future of all education. As a result of the skyrocketing costs of most traditional education settings (brick and mortar classrooms), many experts predict a steady movement to online distance education.

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Is there a Future for you in Teaching English Abroad?

What is this whole Teaching English Overseas thing and just how long will it last?

Good questions!

A few years back the British Council ( one of the world’s largest providers of English language training) released a 66 page report on the The Future of English that states in essence:

World-wide, there are over 1,400 million people living in countries where English has official status.  One out of five of the world’s population speak English to some level of Competence.

DEMAND (my emphasis!) for English from the other four fifths is increasing.

. . . it is estimated that over one billion people are learning English.  English is the main language of the internet, books, newspapers, airports and air-traffic control, international business and academic conferences, science technology, diplomacy, sport, international competitions, pop music and advertising.

Near the end of their report they say:   The English language seems set to play an ever more important role in world communication, international business, and social and cultural affairs.

The greatest portion of the report has to do with predicting the future and its impact on the British language industry – some relatively dry stuff.  But the overall message is that there will continue to be plenty of work out there – for you and me – for a long time to come.

TED’s Tips™ #1: You can read the full sixty six pages by downloading The Future of English.  Not to worry – the short answer is – Teachers of English will continue to be in demand for a long time to come.

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TEFL Scams – or not?

This post is a bit of a pet peeve.  A recent poster over at Lonely Planet said this . . .

I feel like that could get kinda messy with scams n’ such

And I read so many posts on forums/discussion boards, FaceBook groups and more that are always talking about how many “scams” are out there and how this is a scam and that is a scam – yada yada yada.

Based on my 20+ years of living abroad – I would like to guarantee you one thing.  And that is if you go abroad looking for scams, focused on them and always worrying about them – yes, you will find them. They are there, but then they are everywhere – maybe.

During my time overseas I have run into very FEW “scams”.    Often as not someone will call an employer a scam because after they failed to show up for work for two weeks – and they were fired.   Not all scams are like that, but name calling on the Internet seems to come free of charge with no consequences, so you can – in fact – say whatever you want about whomever you want.

Sometimes the “scam caller” is real and the problem is real, but sometimes they are a disgruntled former employee and sometimes they are a competitor hoping to hurt the reputation of a school or business or fellow teacher.

I am a “local expert” on a Trip Advisor forum and we are quite familiar with hotels posting really bad made-up reviews about their competitors.  Same with travel agents, resorts, spas, you name it.   Lots of people faking scams (I guess that is a “scam” too!) to try to hurt the business of a rival.

All I am trying to say is don’t believe everything you read.  We already know that for good things, but we rarely consider it for bad things.   People tend to believe all these “scam” ideas.

The problem with all this is that eventually – if you want to believe it all – you will be afraid to go outside – at all.  Not just after dark – but ever.

I read about scams so often on the Internet and people worried about TEFL scams this and TEFL scams that . . . Sorry – I’ve only been in the business for 20 years – I just haven’t seen it.  Yeah, there are few flaky operators here and there, but how is that different from any other industry?

Come on – get real – you already know that most people are good people.  And if you don’t believe that – then you shouldn’t go outside.

I’ve written on the topic of ATTITUDE before and this post is all about attitude.  Get out there and kick the world’s butt – but do it without being afraid of your shadow.  Yes, being positive might set you up for a “scam” sometime.   Operate with you eyes wide open – pay attention.  Things that are too good to be true probably are.  But things that are too bad to be true – probably are too.

TED’s Tips™ #1: Living your life with a positive attitude really is worth it.  If you spend you whole life afraid of things, what a lousy life that is.  I am not suggesting being an idiot and sending your life savings to the guy who promises you a million dollars in a Nigerian bank.  But I am saying that you can set the circumstances of your life.  So do it.

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Your Long-term Future as an EFL Teacher

I’ve been living and working abroad since 1989 and there are a few lessons to be learned if you wish to survive and thrive long term overseas.    Here we go . . .

#1 – No matter what you do, where you work, who you work for – you are essentially – SELF EMPLOYED. That means you work for yourself and you need to look out for yourself and not leave it to someone else to be responsible for your life – for your future – or for anything else.

A great life lesson really – no matter where you are or what you do. Look at the people who worked at Enron, WorldCom, even General Motors who left their pensions and futures to the planning of others. Not a good thing to do.

#2. Plan for your future.   I saved and purchased rental properties in my home country. Fully paid off and providing rental income. That will be part of my pension when I get really old. We all know about the property bubble/bust so that did not turn out perfectly, but the properties are paid off, so they will still help me a bit.  You might try a different approach  or strategy, but choose one and follow through.

#3. Invest in a business of some sort that will provide an income stream as you grow older. There are a zillion ways to do this – none of them easy – most filled with hype and false promises – but the opportunity is out there is you are persistent and determined.

By the way – #1 above – “You work for yourself” – does not mean to be a selfish lout. To me it means that while you are working for others (until you get #3 going) that you need to be a VALUE ADDED employee. That you need to be the “go-to-guy” for your employer. The person they can count on to get things done. The person they can rely on to be there when times get tough. NOT the person who says they aren’t going to work an extra 15 minutes unless they get paid for it. There is no room for selfishness when you want others to help you meet your goals.

As a relevant aside – last year I saw a scruffy looking down-and-out foreigner digging through the garbage cans (rubbish bins in UK English) in a tourist-beach tropical-island destination. How sad that is!  This was – no doubt – one of the “live for today” crowd – now reduced to eating garbage left by tourists. It was both shocking and really sad. And a lesson.

The lesson is: Man up (or Woman up!) – be responsible for yourself – plan for the good and bad times. It really isn’t difficult. The fat times need to be recognized as such and used to ease the lean times.

TED’s Tips™ #1: I will alter Gandhi’s famous quote here:  Live as if you will die tomorrow, plan as if you will live forever.

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