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Earning an Accredited TESOL/TEFL Certificate Online

written by: Sylvia Cochran•edited by: Tricia Goss•updated: 12/26/2011

When obtaining a TEFL certificate, quantity and quality of education do matter. Since there are no official governing bodies that oversee the issuing of the certifications, it is up to aspiring ESL teachers to find an accredited TESOL/TEFL certificate online or at a brick and mortar school.

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    What is TEFL?

    TEFL is an acronym for teaching English as a foreign language. English speakers who acquired either a native command of the English language or acquired a near-native ability to speak it may become qualified teachers by obtaining a TEFL certificate. This certificate is earned via classroom or Internet coursework. Locating an accredited TESOL/TEFL certificate online or offered by a brick and mortar school is not as easy as it sounds.

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    Nuts and Bolts of Earning a TEFL Certification

    It is no longer enough merely to speak the language like a native. Instead, the number of specialized teaching settings online and abroad now require English language teachers to have a more sophisticated understanding of the learning and teaching process. While there is no officially prescribed methodology of going about obtaining a TEFL certificate, there are some general rules of thumb.

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    Finding and Passing TEFL Courses

    The TEFL Professional Network advises students that certification is usually open to English language speakers with a graduate degree. It is possible to circumnavigate this requirement with related work experience.

    Remember also that successful graduates from a TEFL course, who hope to travel abroad for work, must apply for (and be granted) a work permit from their target country. Depending on the requirements of the target country, the graduate degree may be necessary.

    Earning an accredited TESOL/TEFL certificate online or from a brick and mortar school is the next step. Thus far, there is no official accrediting body; not surprisingly, a large number of schools and course conductors have sprung up. Students should be aware that in this environment, the reputation of the course is what matters most. Look for courses sanctioned by the U.S. School for International Training, Britain’s Trinity College, Cambridge or its College of Teachers.

    Whether it is a TEFL certificate online or an in-person course, the minimum requirement should be 120 hours that feature teaching practice in addition to language related coursework.

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    Quantifying the Learning Experience

    Although there is difficulty in anticipating the type of training provided by a reputable course, there are hallmarks that guide students. Depending on the venue, the students may actually engage in foreign language learning for a very short portion of their coursework, just to get a first-hand taste of what it looks and feels like to be on the receiving end of the instruction.

    From there, the lessons on second language acquisition, classroom management, experiential learning, materials selection and facility organization take on a different – and deeper – meaning. Courses that omit this first element, nevertheless, focus on the aforementioned skills while also stressing the ability to listen to a speaker of a foreign language, entering into a discourse and from there fostering a successful teacher-student relationship.

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    What about Obtaining a TEFL Certificate over a Weekend?

    TEFL short courses are a new trend designed to give aspiring teachers a taste of the profession and to also help seasoned educators to brush up on their skills prior to embarking on a new assignment. These certifications do not carry the same weight as those earned after a four-week intensive class schedule.

    As outlined by TEFL Admissions, these courses span roughly 40 hours and primarily act as a primer for classroom management skills, lesson planning, student and teacher relationship building and grammar.

    The aspiring language teacher who is serious about honing skills will be best served by taking the full-length courses designed to prepare educators for their assignments abroad.






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