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Monday, November 17, 2014

What's the Difference Between TESOL/TEFL Certificate Programs

What's the Difference Between TESOL/TEFL Certificate Programs?



If you do a quick google (isn't it becoming a verb), you'll see a seemingly endless list of schools, institutions, and companies that offer some version of an English Language Teaching Certificate.

People who are considering getting a TESOL Certified and teaching English overseas probably find the quantity of TESOL Certificate Courses daunting.  In addition to things like location, length, and price, considering whether the format of the TESOL course is right for you can help you narrow your choices down.


At the macro level, there are three choices of TESOL Certificate Courses:
  1. Face-to-Face TESOL/TEFL Courses
  2. Hybrid (part online and part face-face) TESOL Courses
  3. Online TESOL Certificates
There are many aspects to consider when gauging the quality of a TESOL Course (something we covered here).  The format of delivery can also give you an indication of the quality of the course and how it fits with your goals.

Let's take a look at each of these course formats and what they provide the participant........



The Difference Between TESOL/TEFL Certificate Programs


Online TESOL Programs are usually much cheaper and much easier to complete.  There are a number of companies to choose from.  Unfortunately, they lack key components of effective teacher training programs.

  • First, there is no practice teaching; thus, participants never get a feel for what it is really like to teach non-native English speakers or what really happens when the lesson plan goes awry.  Equally, participants never have the opportunity to develop skills like engaging students, giving clear instructions, or working with multi-level students in real time.  Developing positive teaching practices takes, well, practice; online courses cannot provide this.
  • Secondly, while these TESOL/TEFL courses may provide theory, participants are unable to personally connect with the practical applications of the theory;  Of course, teaching videos can be presented that highlight practical classroom applications, but void of the real experience. Thus, participants are unable to use experience as a vehicle for developing an understanding of positive teaching practices. 
  • Thirdly, employers do not place as high of a value on these certificates compared to accredited programs that require practice teaching.  While the course may be certified (sometimes from some obscure, unknown entity), they do not hold the weight of a course that has real practice teaching as the center-piece of its course (such as the SIT TESOL Certificate Course).  Before taking this course, make sure that the places you would like to teach in recognize this type of course.
Nonetheless, their price and ease at which they can be completed, do make these courses attractive to some people, especially those who already have teaching credentials but not a TESOL certificate.

Hybrid TESOL Programs seem to be up and coming with schools offering a portion of the course online (usually front-loaded), a portion of the course in person (usually the middle portion), and a final online component.  These programs are trying to use the benefits of both approaches in their certificate programs.  Participants develop a foundation of TESOL, put it into practice, and then rebuild their foundation.  Here are some things to consider if you find yourself looking at this type of TESOL Course:
  • These types of courses are new;  so there may be many kinks in the format that have yet to have been ironed out.  TESOL courses such as the one offered by TESOL Trainers in Santa Fe, NM are long standing, highly refined courses that have had years to develop a program that sets participants up for success.  Hybrid courses, new to the field, have yet to mature.
  • The idea of front loading a course with information about teaching English to non-native speakers has its benefits; however, getting so much information on teaching receptive and productive lessons before actually teaching them diminishes the power of practice teaching and decreases the ability of the participant to learn from his/her experiences in a scaffolded way.
  • As with the online TESOL courses, there are limited opportunities for participants to interact in a real classroom setting.  The chances are they will be teaching in a real classroom, and hybrid courses fall short of being able to provide its participants with the maximum number of opportunities to learn through interacting with their peers, trainers, and content of the course.
Nonetheless, no one can deny that online learning is propagating our world.  Hybrid courses, at least offer some real practice teaching experience and are certainly here to stay.

Face-to-Face TESOL Programs, like the SIT TESOL Certificate Course and CELTA, are all done in the traditional sense, in a real classroom environment.  While more consuming in terms of time and energy, and money, participants tend to get far more out of these experiences on so many levels.

  • Since most English language teachers teach in a real classroom environment, taking a TESOL course that models this has powerful benefits.  Participants get a real sense of how the classroom environment affects learning.  They also experience what it is like to work within a community of learners with the same content.  Today's experts on second language learning encourage focusing on authentic materials and language usage;  you can't get more authentic than taking a real class.
  • Because the trainers are always present, participants are able to observe how the trainers interact with the class and manage it on both a macro and micro level.  Trainers constantly model effective teaching strategies, lessons, and real-time adjustments to the needs of the participants.  Through this experiential approach, participants can reflect on the experience, glean the principles on display, and develop their own theories on what helps and hinders learning.
  • We learn language to communicate with others; while some people do learn languages on their own, it largely remains a communal act.  This same principle is true with learning how to teach English to non-native English speakers.  The fact that participants are actively involved and interacting with the content and one another helps them develop a solider sense of confidence and competence, essential to feeling ready and being ready to teach a real class.
Like Marvin Gaye sang, 'ain't nothing like the real thing.'

John Kongsvik SIOPWhile Online programs and Hybrid programs have their place (especially if you are experienced in TESOL but don't possess the qualification), face-to-face programs offer participants the chance to
use their own learning and teaching experiences to develop and grow as a TESOL teachers.

If you're going to make the decision to begin a career in TESOL, why not start off on solid ground?

Our course in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the SIT TESOL Certificate Course offers intensive TESOL programs (4wks long) and extensive courses (12wks long) throughout the year.  You can find out more about our course schedule by visiting our website.

It's a jungle out there, especially if you google.

The next time we'll look at the Micro Level of TESOL Certificate Programs.....There's more to it than just a name!!!


If you've got a thought about this, drop a line!



Just Remember:  TESOL Trainers has your ticket to Teaching your way around the world!©



TESOL Trainers, John Kongsvik, Setting all students up for success one teacher at a timeTESOL Trainers is an education consulting company that sets every student up for success, one teacher at a time.


We work with all types of educational institutions (K-12Higher Ed) that support excellence in teaching and excellence in learning.

TESOL Trainers, Inc. offers the SIT TESOL Certificate, the most reputable in the world.

Contact John Kongsvik, the Director, for more information.

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