Published 12th October 2015
TEFL courses are about as similar as rugby and American football. They are similar in theory, but you will find in practice they are very different. TEFL courses can be 24 hours, 120 hours or even 360 hours. There is no international association or body governing standards of TEFL courses, which allows for a lot of variation between courses.
What you should expect from a TEFL course is a solid grounding in the theory of TEFL, as well as a brush-up of your own English grammar. You should expect some serious work. The TEFL course crams a lot of information into a short space of time and you are expected to do a lot of reading. Getting to grips with the theory can be confusing and then applying it in a practical way can be difficult. Also, if your grammar is a bit rusty, dealing with all the grammar of the English language can be more than a little overwhelming, but it’s a necessary evil of any TEFL course.
As well as this, you should ideally be involved in teaching practice of some sort. These practice lessons will usually be observed, so expect feedback and don’t expect it to completely positive. The TEFL course is there to mould and shape you into an effective teacher and you may have bad habits which you are not aware of and which are not conducive to a good language learning environment. Constructive criticism will only make you do better the next time, hopefully.
These practical lessons will involve a lot of preparation and this is usually the part most people underestimate. Thinking of a good, logical lesson plan to accomplish certain aims while still being fun and enjoyable is not easy, and can (and will) take time. Just a note, though, the time you spend planning lessons on your TEFL course is usually a lot more than you will in the real world.
Finally, be prepared to teach. This might sound a little silly, but use the safety of the TEFL environment to get over your nerves of teaching people. Some people are nervous to teach Young Learners, others to teach adults, but we all have anxieties about something or other and this is the best time to get over that. Use your practical sessions to get to know yourself as a teacher and to find out what works and what doesn’t work in the classroom.