Published 12th October 2015
In a word: no. TEFL does not have an international board or association which regulates and maintains the standards of TEFL. There are no rulebooks or guidelines regarding the content of TEFL courses and no requirements for the trainers. With TEFL, the truth is you never know what you are going to get. Courses vary from country to country, and indeed even between schools in the same city. This doesn’t mean the TEFL is a waste of time, but it does mean that you should be selective when deciding which TEFL course to take.
Of course, without any regulation, there are loads and loads of TEFL schools and courses which are generally rubbish, while there are others that have very high standards. Also, because the content of the courses differ, while one may cover Teaching 1-2-1s, others may focus more on Teaching Young Learners. Their assessment standards may be different too, so you may be required to do different assignments in order to pass the course. This can seem quite overwhelming, but don’t panic, because there are a few things to look out for so that even on paper you can see which are the better courses.
Before you choose a course, have a look at what is offered in the course content. It is preferable to do a course which is at least 120-hours and includes some classroom training. The basic foundations of TEFL theory should be covered, as well as a general look at specialising – Young Learners, 1-to-1s for example. There should generally be a good amount of reading and research required, as there is a lot of theory behind TEFL, which is why 20-hour courses can be a bit worrying.
Wherever you get it from, your certificate will state what you have done on the course, which is why schools want to see a copy of it. This is why it’s important to choose a course that offers what you need and what employers are looking for. Employees may investigate the school to look at the credentials of the TEFL tutors, so bear that in mind too.
Finally, and possibly most importantly, you want to choose a course that is going to give you a solid basis for your teaching. Doing a good course will prepare you for the classroom and give you peace and mind and confidence before you even get there.