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Teaching Qualifications for TESL

September 15, 2005

Lots of people seem confused by the range of teaching qualificatiions that exist.

Hello again,

As ELT is a truly global phneomenon, it is not surprising different countries have different provisions and, although some teaching qualifications have worldwide recognition, others do not. How do you decide which qualifications are appropriate for your organization? This depends on your local situation. Some countries stipulate certain levels of teacher qualification before they will issue employment permits. Others are more flexible and leave it to the employer to decide. Yet to ensure that you provide a professional service, and if you wish to be able to offer students some form of quality assurance, you will need properly qualified teachers.

TEFL courses validated by external bodies, such as the UK’s University of Cambridge or Trinity College, London are well known worldwide and are usually accessible to teachers all over the world. For those unable to attend a course physically, distance learning is available.

These courses exist for entry level teachers (Certificate) and, for more experienced people, a Diploma-level course gives training in greater depth. The courses are open to native and non-native speakers but all candidates must be interviewed and take a language awareness test. The important point to stress about these qualifications is that they include observed teaching practice. Remember that many prospective teachers who have masters or higher degrees in linguistics or ELT will certainly have a solid academic qualification but may never have set foot in a classroom. This means that it is very important to check if you interview such candidates what their classroom experience is.

Remember too that if you have specialized teaching programs—young learners, business clients—for example, you will need to look for additional training in that area. Cambridge, for example, offers a Certificate in English Language Teaching to Young Learners.

However, do remember that this is a very fragmented area. Many teachers will come forward with other qualifications, earned at universities, colleges, private school and by distance learning. The status of these qualifications may be less easy to ascertain but they should not be dismissed out of hand. Check with the awarding body and look at wider background of the candidates: have they got a first degree, what experience do they have?

To find out more about specific qualifications see the TEFL Course Data Base: http://www.tefl.net/tefl-courses/.

Back soon.

Patricia.

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Comments

  1. irene Says:

    Strange as it may seem, some countries do not even ask for teaching qualifications to the local teachers. That´s the situation in my own country where people who have finished FCE do start teaching because they believe they´re qualified enough as teachers. Worst is the case of some schools or private schools (called Institutes in my country) where they take on students of English with an intermediate level in the language and pay almost nothing to them. You may be wondering why they do such a thing? The answer is quite simple: the budget. They pay almost nothing per hour to those students, being their argument that as they are not qualified teachers they cannot earn more. Who´s to blame? The government that does not control, the people attending classes that don´t check out this detail or sometimes do not even care?
    We have decided to walk our own way and we only hire teachers who have a TESOL or TEFL qualification both native teachers from abroad or local teachers of English.
    Why we do so if our bugdet will be really high? Normally we do spend more than 80% of our gross income on salaries. Sounds familiar?
    We deeply believe that service counts and in the long run people will value this.
    There´s something strange going around these days. Some Institutes do even take on local people who have been abroad for some time and sell the service as having real native teachers of English. Unbelievable!
    I think that a qualified teacher adds quality to the service and once students have been in a class with one they start telling the difference and that´s the way to succeed in this field.
    I do really like contributing to this section but I would really like to see some other comments or even to communicate or chat with teachers from abroad. It´s really rewarding to be able to share experiences and knowledge.

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